Johnny R. – 2009 to Present – Needle in the Groove – Part 1

Another fun day with my friend who loves vice.

I love this day. I finally get to write about Johnny R. with a little vice because I planned it that way. Art imitates life.

I sleep in on Saturday, because it’s the only day I  am technically off from my two jobs. The real day off. That’s plenty of time for me, because I like to work.

Johnny texts me that he will roll into Suburban Station around 1pm. I have to get out of this bed. I am drifting in and out of the arms of Morpheus and listening to NPR. I have to go out and be with my dear friend.

His train is coming in and I am walking towards the station. He says he is busting for a piss and is going to Tir Na Nog. That’s the closest bar to the train station, and a beloved spot for him because they have a satellite dish and play all of the liverpool soccer games that he loves all the time. I don’t get it because I’m not a sports guy but he loves it. I know when Johnny says he’s heading to Tir to take a piss that means he’s going to be drinking 5 minutes after that, so I need to get there sooner than later.

I arrive and he looks great and we’re happy to see each other. Tir Na Nog is obviously an Irish bar on 16th street near Arch. It’s a good spot but normally is a sausage bar. Lot’s of dudes and sports fans. Never my cup of tea. I prefer hotel bars with pretty nubile waitresses eager to please me.

Johnny is sucking on a bud bottle and seems surly. He says he has no coke or adderall so he’s probably going to behave but be tired later on. I don’t mind. As long as I can spend time with my friend and we get our kicks, I know we’ll all be better for it and his wallet won’t hurt tomorrow. (Nor will his soul)

He tells me he hates the raven haired Irish female bartender that’s currently on shift. I love his rage about everything. I ask him why, and he tells me that he sat here with an empty bottle and she ignored him and went to talk to her friends at the end of the bar. Normally I would hate this too but I have a little surprise that I didn’t see coming for my friend Johnny.

Johhny: “I fuckin’ hate her. Shitty service.”

Me: “Hello Sheila! I haven’t seen you in a while. How you been?”

Sheila: ” Hey, great man, I’ll come by the new salon soon!”

Johnny looks at me incredulously.

Sheila: “Hey, this round is on me.”

Johnny: “How?”

Me: ” She tans at the salon so she doesn’t look so pale when she goes back to Ireland every year.”

Johnny: “Wow. Thank you.”

Me: (I point to me and then him) “Honey… vinegar. It’s all good dude.”

That was a huge savings and an elegant meeting spot for me and Johnny. It had history, soccer and free drinks in it!

We head down to Locust Rendezvous for some food, because all I’ve had in the way of food today was beer. We get there and the place is chill. We sit in our usual seats at the end of the bar and I order a Yards Pale and some chicken fingers. Johnny goes for the plain grilled and I of course go for the buffalo.

Locust Rendezvous is a clean little dive down at 15th and Locust. Local crowd. The food is good and cheap. The staff is consistent and sweet. They have a fantastic $5 burger lunch special there. Check it out if you’re ever in Philly. Worth it! We’re chatting and sipping our beers. Johnny with his Bud bottle as always. The food comes out and it looks great. Johnny complains that his chicken is tough but he bitches about everything. It’s actually endearing and one of the reasons I love him. It’s like hanging out with comedian Bill Burr.

Our day is unfolding beautifully, until he gets a piece of chicken lodged not in his throat but in his esophagus. He has a thing. It’s not serious but you know how deadly chicken and it’s bones can be to humans and dogs.

Johnny pauses. I turn. “Are you okay, dude?”

“I’m fine. Just a piece of chicken that needs to keep going to my stomach.”

“Is there anything I can do?” I’m getting worried about my friend.

“”No. I just need to go to the bathroom.”

I’m concerned, but it’s his thing and he knows how to deal with it. Chicken is dense and you gotta take little bites.

I continue to drink my beer and rip into my delicious “moist” buffalo chicken fingers. After a few minutes he comes back and he’s fine. I’m relieved and he’s still pissed about his dry chicken. But that’s just Johnny. It didn’t kill you, so eat it brother.

I finish my meal and I know what’s going to happen. Since all I’ve consumed has been beers and buffalo chicken today and that has been breakfast and lunch, I need to go. It’s called middle age. You put something in your body and the system turns on and things start moving. I tell him I’ll be right back and I walk to the back of the bar to the men’s room. It’s funny because the bathrooms are labeled. “Nuts” and “No Nuts” and they have pictures of a boy and a girl squirrel. It’s pretty obvious what bathroom has been appointed to which sex, but I just wonder why they went with that theme here. It has nothing to do with the bar.

I really have to go. The machine is running and I need to deal with this. Forgive me readers for going here. Some of you may hate anything bathroom related, but I promise if you stay with this scene, you’ll enjoy it.

I go into the “Nuts” bathroom because I have a pair, and I tie my button down dress shirt in a knot at the bottom so it’s away from all of the action. Every time I do this I always think of Rod Stewart tying the bottom of his shirt and looking gay. Nothing against the gay community or Rod, (No pun intended) I love gay people but this move always makes me feel a little gay.

I drop my drawers and have a seat. It’s a tiny bathroom. Just one commode, a sink and that’s it. Just me, my phone and my thoughts. I’m cool. I’m having a good day with my pal who’s at the front of the bar probably sipping his beer and playing with his phone.

I finish and life is good. I feel relieved and I’m having a great day with my dear friend. Hopefully there’s more fun and deviltry to come. So I’m ready to get up and I look around. First casually, then frantically. There’s no toilet paper in the men’s room. Not a stitch. Not a square. Nothing! There is a little soggy wad next to the toilet on the floor in the corner. I’m not touching that!

What the fuck am I going to do? I can’t wipe!

I’m panicking now. I’m trapped in the Nuts room and I can’t leave.

Wait! I brought my phone in with me. I’ll call Johnny and tell him my situation and he’ll tell the bartender and someone will run back a roll to save me!

I pride myself in knowing where all of the liquor stores and clean bathrooms are in this fine city. I’ve done this my entire life. Sometimes I get tummy troubles and a man need to know where to get a clean restroom. This comes in really handy with the fairer sex. But I’m being held hostage by my dirty ass right now and I have failed myself as a good bathroom vigil.

I grab my phone and call him. You can’t text your friend at the bar when you are trapped in the bathroom. You have to call! He’ll pick up. I’m with him right now. I dial his number.

Ringing…

“Pick up…”

“Pick up…”

“Pick up Johnny….”

“Pick up you fucking asshole!”

(voicemail) “You have reached (phone number) Johnny is not available…”

“Are you fucking kidding me???”

How is everybody chained to their phones and you are literally sitting at the bar with me in the same bar and you are on your phone and I am calling you and you are not picking up you fucking asshole???

He never picks up.

I’m stranded in this bathroom. I want to kill him. I really want to kill him. I’m going to kill my friend next time I see him.

Necessity is the mother of invention. I have been in worst situations so I need to get creative and do what is necessary. I get up off the seat with my pants around my ankles and turn my butt toward the sink. I hop towards it and get to the sink. I grab the porcelain and hoist my ass up onto the sink. Apparently the sinks in Locust Rendezvous are strong enough to support the full weight of a grown man. I reach back behind me and turn the spigot on. The water is running now. Is it the hot water or the cold? Should I turn them both on?

I feel like a little kid now. Sitting on a another toilet with my little legs dangling in the air a foot of the ground because I’m small. I reach back to check the temperature of the water with my hand. The water feels ok, so I realize the inevitable. I lean forward and get my ass as close the water stream as close as possible to my sweet star fruit. I reach back and literally scrub my asshole with my bare hand under the fresh stream of water from the faucet.

How do they even open their bar on a Saturday and not even check the bathroom situation? At the beginning of my shift at the salon I run patrol on the whole place. Well I suppose this is how you earn the title, “Dive Bar.”

So I scrub my asshole clean until it squeaks. There isn’t even a way to dry my butt because they have an air dryer for your hands in there. And I am not going to be able to do the gymnastic to do a head stand on the sink and get my balloon knot up under that blower to dry off my turd cutter. (Yea, I’m using creative names to make it even funnier than this sad situation already is.)

I hop down when I’m done and am actually a little proud of myself for my resourcefulness and creativity in a bad situation. Urban survival techniques!

I thoroughly wash my hand with their soap. I use it copiously! Then I get to take advantage of their modern hand air dryer in the bathroom with NO TOILET PAPER! Because if they had any paper hand towels I would have totally ripped them up and wiped my sorry ass with them. If it clogged up the toilet I would have been fine with that because that’s your punishment for not doing your fucking job and checking the bar before your shift! Now you have a REAL mess to clean up, lazy! (I kidding…I wouldn’t really do that)

So I walk out of the bathroom and back to the bar with my super clean, still wet ass and I see Johnny just sitting there sipping his beer.

“You wouldn’t believe what just fucking happened to me in the bathroom!”

“The redhead blew you?”

“Really, dude? No! there was no toilet paper in there and I had to use the sink as a fucking bidet on my butthole!”

“(Nonchalantly) Oh…I saw that you called.”

“Why the fuck didn’t you pick up?”

“I just thought you accidentally butt dialed me.”

“Yea! My butt was crying out for help and you left it literally blowing in the wind!”

“Alright. I got lunch. Wanna go to McGlinchey’s?”

“Dude! I needed your hel… You got lunch?”

“Yea.”

“Okay. I’ll buy the first round at McGlinch…”

“I hate when you abbreviate everything.”

“It’s my thing. It’s what I do.”

“We know. Let’s go.”

We step out onto 15th street headed to the foulest bar in the city.

“Why couldn’t you have choked on that piece of chicken.”

“What?

“Love you….”

 

 

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