Party Down

“VilaFishburn,” Jimmy says, answering my question.

“Vila what?”

“VilaFishburn,” my man replies. “The band’s name is VilaFishburn.”

At first glance, Jimmy is not a bartender one thinks about messing with — shaved head, large frame, scanning the crowd and moving quickly behind the back bar of Joe’s Grill 2, on 96th, not too far east from I-69.

“Not bad,” I reply.

I order two more Pacifico Claras, one for me and one for Clint, an old friend. We talk of old times and catch up on current events. We’re sharing a pool table, rotating games with a young couple — a long wait on our end. Our games? Ten minutes. Theirs? Twenty-five.

But it’s all good.

I’m taken aback by the atmosphere in Joe’s. Everyone is having a good ole time. I’m not used to this. Not at all. Everyone looks happy, and I mean everyone. The waitresses are smiling back and forth, out on the floor, then behind the bar.

“You guys need another one?” one asks, as she comes behind the bar so Jimmy can speak with the bouncer.

“Sure.”

“You want it on your tab, right?” she asks, handing over the cervezas.

“Of course!”

“Hey, you guys want our table?” a voice asks over my shoulder.

I turn, greeted by a friendly face — I think his name’s Scott.

“Sure. You guys finished?” Clint asks, smiling and patting him on the back.

I can see Clint is also puzzled by the friendliness in the air. He is a wild child, a street savvy country boy who’s no stranger to bar room brawls. Legend has it, Clint broke a Budweiser bottle over a guy’s head because the guy didn’t care for an arrangement Clint had proposed. But tonight, even Clint has been overcome by niceness.

We stand around for the next 20 minutes, bullshitting with Scott and his group.

“Did you catch who won the Heisman?”

“Let me just find out.” Scott reached in his pocket and grabbed his cell phone. “Well, the headline says ‘Reggie Bush runs away with Heisman.’”

I look to the big-screen, hoping to check any scores that may be flashing, and I catch a young woman walking across the floor, holding a package. She walks to the bar and hands the thing, probably an early Christmas gift, to Jimmy, who accepts the package with a smile.

“Jimmy!” a voice hollers across the bar.

I look up and see this dude strutting across Joe’s with a pair of sunglasses over his eyes. I laugh to myself. Pointing my cue in that direction, I say to Clint, “The snow must be blinding tonight.”

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