Sacramento street, heading down the one-way street back towards Kearny
Street, planning on circling the block.
But one of the dizzies is petrified of circling the block. They'll see us,
Which is crazy, I tell her, nobody looks up the one-way street. They look
The Buena Vista at the Wharf, one says in my ear.
But that's where we said we were going, one countered.
But they won't believe us, another said.
They won't look for us?
Sure, they will.
Not after what they spent on us.
They won't show at the BV, the one insisted. They'll look for us on Union
before they'll think of the BV.
Besides, I said, playing the game, maybe you can get your giggles looking at
guys you left behind.
How did you know that?
Just by listening to you, is all.
We passed Clay and Kearny Streets, and we all craned our necks down the
one-way street towards McGoon's. Where the doorman was helping three
businessmen from the saloon's front door.
There they are!
I hope they don't see us!
They didn't, one crowed.
Oh, they were so old, another marveled.
It was all so funny, I really cracked up, started laughing so loud, my hat
the back of my head. One of the dizzies in the backseat caught it and
over the seat. Do you think it's funny? she asked.
Sure, it's funny, I said.
You wouldn't think it was so funny if you were us.
Aw, you'd think it's funny, too, I said.
By this time they were relaxing, unwinding, and a couple of them got their
chuckles, too. Oh, they were so old, the one in the front seat repeated,
mimicking her girlfriend in the back.
Well, they were.
They weren't that old.
The one I was with, he was old. He was so old, his fingers shook when they
brought out the cake.
Maybe it's arthritis, one said.
Maybe senility, another said.
Jesus, what losers!
Conventioneers? I wondered.
Uhn-uh, just on a business trip.
Where'd you meet them?
At Trader Vic's.
How'd you get over here? I wondered.
We took a cab.
What's the story? I asked. C'mon, you can tell me.
Well, it was her birthday.
You wanted the drinks at Trader Vic's.
Well, it was your birthday.
We couldn't afford much, one broke in, telling me the story. We're just
girls, but it's her birthday, so we figured we could afford one or two
someplace fancy, like Trader Vic's, so we went there after work and started
drinking those rum things with the cherries and the fizzle on top . . .
And these guys, one in the backseat interrupted, they asked us is they could
They sent the waiter over to us.
So we had dinner!
A free meal's a free meal, I agreed.
And then they brought out a cake.
What for? I asked.
For her birthday!
And they bought us so many drinks, and everything.
Why'd you come to McGoons?
We just had to get out of Trader Vic's.
It was so embarrassing.
You're just helping some old farts get their kicks, I told them.
Old farts is right.
I don't want to be their kicks.
So we ran away from them, one told me. We ran outside while they were
their topcoats, and there you were.
He is, you know.
I almost blushed.
By the time we reached the Buena Vista, their plight had made up for the
of evenings. The fare came to a little over two bucks. They were gripping
how fast the fare had been rising. I told them I'd settle for two bucks.
managed to scrape that up, part of it in pennies. Wishing them good luck, I
finding a fare headed back to a hotel on my way down Columbus Street.
It was a while before I got back to McGoon's.
I told the doorman the story.
He didn't laugh. They do it every night, he said.
Different guys, but . . .
He shrugged it off.
Frederick Zackel has published two novels. He currently teaches at Bowling
University in Ohio. He has written for Exquisite Corpse: The Journal of
Letters and Life,
Unquiet Mind, Winedark Sea, WINGS, The Dictionary of Literary Biography, and
Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction (among others,) and is a contributing editor
to the on-line
literary magazine January
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