Yuk's on Me

Fifteen minutes early turns out to be forty-five minutes early, and then, ultimately, turns out to be seven days early. It’s a clean, cozy Lincoln Park bar. “D. Byrd’s Nest,” it’s called. To mix and pour tonight, we’ve got a bartender and bartendress in their mid-twenties. The website promised “Comedy at Eight!” Ah, but lest one forgets—as I had—Chicago comedy crowds aren’t known for being punctual. And it’s Monday night. So the girl-half of a girl-guy act promises me there’ll be comedy at eight-thirty. She’s very pleased to see me—a true patron—someone who isn’t there to perform. Only I’d rather not wait around in a bar, alone, and not drink (I’ve a low tolerance—for alcohol…and pretty much everything else), so I stroll the neighborhood until its fifteen after eight. Then I head back to the Nest. I grab a stool along the bar and order a Guinness. I flip through a week-old Red-Eye. Reading in this place is a challenge, even when it’s a short  attention span newspaper. Apparently, a decision was made to crank the volume up on all of the ceiling-hanging TVs. But then who goes to a bar to read? So I spend a few minutes staring up at the TNT rerun of “Law & Order.” At the commercial break, I swivel my stool around to catch a bit of “24.” Presently, Jack Bauer is tied up and beat up. But that’s like every other episode, isn’t it? Another TV’s tuned to the Bulls game. So, notwithstanding the cacophony of media, there’s something here for everyone. Unless you’re part of the PBS crowd. Would any bar in the world play PBS? And I mean not as a gag. The bartendress is telling the bartender that she needs to lose weight. To that, I’d say, “Nah,” but I’m not part of the conversation. Past eight-thirty, I walk my Guinness to the back room. I feel like a fool. I’m the only one there. The host greets me and asks me to wait. One of the comics recognizes me from the show I’m doing. Fifteen minutes later, the host tells me he’s cancelling. He makes me promise to come back.* I smile, nod, finish my beer, and head for the nearest ‘L’ station. 

31 March 2005 

*[04/16/23: Not the first promise I’ve broken.] 

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