Night Life

The Kelvin Arms

I hear singing, and turn my head in time to see a woman bust a lame dance move around an askew barstool. She crashes into my group like a shitfaced, premenopausal Scud ­missile.

We've come to Kelvin Arms (2424 Dunstan) on the back end of a midweek pub crawl. I'm leaning against the bar, with wingman George sitting at my left, consciously aloof Karl at my right. Sarah, a dark-haired, obviously overserved urban cougar, pounces on George.

"You're awfully cute," she purrs, rubbing his back with her left hand. Thrusting her cleavage at the barkeep, she tosses her credit card on the bar. After ordering a couple of beers, she returns her attention to George.

"He's just...debonair," she says.

"You just haven't stuck around long enough to see me pick my nose or something," replies George. She laughs. His shoulders slump further.

Sarah's male friend/chaperone/handler comes to collect his beer, smiles at me and promptly returns to the vault to flirt with another woman. She looks at me, her bloodshot eyes softening. She thinks she's hurting my feelings.

"You're both cute, don't get me wrong. But he's closer to my age." She runs a hand through George's hair.

I have to turn away to keep from laughing, so I look to my right at the baseball game that Karl is staring at. He checks the scene to my left.

"Oh no," says Karl, "He just picked his nose and wiped it on the bar."

Sarah doesn't notice, apparently. By her pickled logic, our lack of interest in her amounts to a lack of interest in her entire sex. She's convinced George and I are an item.

"I respect your relationship," she says.

"We appreciate that," I reply, ignoring Karl's snickering. He's still behind me, red-faced.

"Yeah," she continues. "I'm bi."

"Then you understand our plight. It's not easy."

"No," she shakes her head. "It's no homo-topia out there."

Karl nearly spews beer. George buries his head in his hands. Sarah rubs her hand across George's back once more and departs for the vault.

Aside from stimulating conversation with drunken women, the best thing Kelvin Arms has going for it is the vault. The pub, or the building anyway, was once a bank, and its proprietors have kept the vault, complete with massive steel door, intact.

The room is red walls, elegant leather furniture and soft light illuminating the corners. A fine make-out spot, of absolutely no use when you're with two other guys and the only woman in the room paying attention to you thinks you're gay.

"She wasn't giving up," Karl says, sipping his beer.

"She's deaf-drunk," I say. "Way beyond reason at this point."

George is now on his cell phone with his girlfriend:

"No, you should definitely come meet up with us...Really, you should. Please. She won't leave me alone, and she thinks Henderson and I are gay.

"Whatever, that's fine, bring your cousin with you. And tell her to come in topless. We need all the help we can get."

Sarah returns about this time, putting one arm around my waist and another around George's.

"Oh Christ," George says. He hangs up and puts his head on the bar. "Isn't he good-looking?" she says, rubbing on George's slumped shoulders.

"He's a goddamned fox," I say. "I'm the last person in the room that needs to be told."

"You're good-looking too," she says, putting her arm around my waist. "I'm just not into what you've got going on. But you're really hot. You look like a model."

She reaches her arm around George and nods at me.

"Doesn't he look like he could be a model?"

"He used to be a model," he replies.

"Really?!" she blurts." What'd you model?"

George interjects. "He modeled those long underpants like they wear in Alaska."

"Those are sexy." She spits the word into the atmosphere with a palpable, though unintentional, condescension. She's too drunk to be sarcastic.

"Isn't this place great?" Sarah slurs, looking around the bar as though she actually gives a damn. "It's like a little bit of heaven. And nobody gets too much heaven anymore. The Bee Gees said that."

She laughs heartily.

"Yeah, and those Gibb boys don't fuck around," I mutter. Karl is laughing so hard he has to walk away.

Sarah begins telling George a story about airport security. It's long and involved and doesn't make a bit of sense. She finishes.

"That was it?!" George says above the din. "Where the hell is the punch line?!"

Sarah stalls, but quickly returns to form.

"Some girl in the vault just showed me her tits. Did I mention I'm bisexual?"

"Yeah," I say. "It's no homo-topia out there."

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Chris Henderson