Two Buck Chuck

By Seamus Muldoon, Himself
Copyright © 1997-2017
All Rights Reserved

I now feel good enough about the third edition of Muldoon’s Saloon that I can comfortably entertain one and sundry simply by discussing it. It is another concept, unlike the first or second editions of this sacred shrine to sociability and alcohol. To be sure, the core beliefs and doctrines have been left undisturbed. There is no television. You cannot request music. You listen to or ignore what the management plays. You may not wear a hat or any other headgear, and that includes religious fanatics. Since this is Texas and not San Francisco, the ambient attitude is that of the independent mind with no concern whatsoever for consequences that may arise from speaking one’s mind. There is no such thing as politically correct in Muldoon’s. Everything is correct. You may espouse any position of your choosing about any subject or issue. Rather, it is the manner in which you express your position that will or will not get you dragged outside and thrashed to within an inch of your life. Say what you like, but say it coherently, respectably, and with a modicum of sensitivity for the fact that the folks at Muldoon’s do not lightly tolerate the insulting of their intelligence. The more outrageous your thoughts on any given subject, the more it helps for you to be able to express it in a humorous vein. It is perfectly acceptable, for instance, for you to extol the exemplary experiences of George Bush’s heroic service during the Viet Nam war in the Alabama/Texas National Guard. Actually it would appear that he was in the Texas National Guard, but served episodically in Alabama.

You may recall that back in the days of the Viet Nam war, compulsory service was determined by the drawing of lots, numbers which set your likelihood of being called. We now know that there was a separate and somewhat less risky lottery for members of the “lucky sperm” club. Recently, the then lieutenant governor of Texas, Ben Barnes, explained to a press interviewer that among his duties was the arranging for scions of rich Texas families to avoid Viet Nam by being accepted into the Texas National Guard. As he put it, “One of the duties of any politician in office is to do favors for the rich.”

Sorry to digress, but that just came out today and it is too funny to pass up.

In addition to having a very effective way of humorously presenting any outrageous theory you may espouse, it helps to be very large and of a notoriously aggressive demeanor. Accordingly, I can and do with absolute impunity announce upon every opportunity that I am supporting Al Sharpton in the upcoming presidential election. When called to account for that position, I explain that it is now true in my opinion that it probably doesn’t matter at all who is President of the United States, just as it doesn’t matter in the slightest who is governor of Texas. The President/Governor is merely a figurehead, and the policies are determined and promulgated by some committee of eminences grises who are installed in the belief that an incompetent figurehead President needs at least to be backstopped by a group of folks with some competence in the tasks to be accomplished. Given that prospect, we can bloody well afford to have a President like Al Sharpton who has soul; has a great sense of humor; has really lived life on the hard and wild side; is a fantastic fund raiser; can command attention by the power of his personality in any setting and on damn short notice; and who can in an instant invent a position on any issue and state it with well articulated rationalizations to a degree that almost everyone will fail to recognize that it is utter bullshit. The major parties are putting up people who cannot state bullshit without it being instantly recognized as bullshit. How can you ever expect to rule a nation with such ineptitude?

I am trying to talk everyone into having Al Sharpton rallies/nights. Maybe, if we do that and get some press, Al his own self might come down and spend an hour with us, posing for pictures and signing autographs. We could play a lot of James Brown music, and he could teach us a few of his fabulous dance steps. He’s so fucking cool!

Just think of the music that would be in vogue if he were President. No more of this white bread Neo Beach Boys crap. If Sharpton isn’t President, we can count on absolutely shitty music in this country for the next four years. Neither party has fielded a candidate who has any musical taste or any cool tendencies whatsoever. At least, thank God, George Bush will bomb somebody every now and then.

Ok – back to the story.

I have to admit that my interest in Muldoon’s, as far as my personal participation is concerned, waned a bit when I quit drinking martinis. Life is so much more fun on martinis – for me even if it isn’t for anyone else. Since I foreswore martinis almost five years ago, life just isn’t the same. In many ways it is better. Hell, you can’t keep it up the way I was doing it forever. And, devotion to martinis being what it truly is, you either stay with em till you’re dead or you quit em altogether.

While I was madly in love with the very dry martini, I never noticed what kinds or quality of wine we sold.  I never went there to drink wine. I went there to drink martinis and to tell bullshit stories and to sing to the women – whether they wanted me to or not. Face it – they loved every minute of it, right? Damn right they did! When I gave up the hard stuff, I became acutely aware that our wine inventory was bloody awful. Chuck is an absolutely great guy, and he is perfect to run a saloon. But he has no idea at all about wine. If it’s cheap, he will stock it. Accordingly, our vendors loaded us up on some real tordre boyeaux. Not just piguette! You have no idea what I’m talking about, do you? Let me elucidate.

These are frog expressions that describe really lousy wine. In the frog vernacular, piguette, when applied to wine, means piss. Now, to be really French, there must be piguette village and piguette superieur. Most of the wine the bloody frogs drink is piguette. But there is even a gradation lower than piguette. That is tordre boyeaux – twists your bowels. And I suppose that if you are a real connoisseur of crap, you might be able to distinguish between tordre boyeaux village and tordre boyeaux superieur. It was appalling. This reminds me of an old story of a frog gentleman who bragged that just by tasting a wine he could tell the vineyard from which it came and its cuvee. In a tasting of white wine, he was handed a glass of piss, which he immediately identified correctly as piss, to which the rejoinder was, “Yes – but who’s?”

Now, thank goodness, Chuck has discovered that if we stock good wine, people will buy it even if the prices are rather dear. Now the wine we serve is really nice. I used to have a bar tab every Friday of around $ 100 anyway when I was enjoying martinis. So what’s wrong with the same bar tab spent on some decent wine? And, with better wine, we are getting a tad better crowd. In the race for cheap wine, there is now something that comes in a box with a plastic bag inside that represents bottom level fermented grape essence, and it is known as “Two Buck Chuck”, for the fact that in bars where it is sold, the price is two bucks a glass. When I came off the hard stuff and started tasting what we were selling as wine, Two Buck Chuck came immediately to mind. God, am I ever glad those days are over. One more major policy issue accounted for. On to the next battle.

I would love to get support for my diversity marketing strategy, but I know that the associated expense will be an insurmountable obstacle. There are just too goddam many laws to comply with, and the expense of compliance is overwhelming for a small business. Consider the following, for example.

Businesses fear the patronage of those who have special needs. If your business fails to have provided for any requirement of any disability, and a person needing the missing facility becomes your customer and needs that missing resource while present in your establishment, and that person knows a lawyer or belongs to some militant affinity group, you are dead meat. They will rat you out to the appropriate government agency, and that agency may send over some damn inspector, who then reports you to some enforcement facility that, in the case of a saloon, may attack your qualification to have a liquor license, as well as stage a television consumer protection report about what an insensitive sonofabitch you are, featuring the writhing victims re-enacting their agony of the moment when their colostomy bag came loose, spraying shit all over your floor and draining their digestive juices all over their skin and clothing. And, of course, had you already installed what the disability act requires for such people, it wouldn’t have prevented the poor bastard’s colostomy apparatus from malfunctioning anyway. But there will be his lawyer, the notorious Texas Avenger, telling everyone on the Channel Two News how uncaring you were, and that the emotional shock to the nervous system of his client, not to mention the humiliation and psychic injury that nothing less than ten million dollars could even come close to adequately compensating, will be coming out your no good hide (assuming that you have liability insurance in force and that the carrier does not deny coverage).

In order to serve the vegetable constituency, you should, according to the notions of those who sponsor such ridiculous regulation, have invested in everything that any tragic episode attendant upon having any of their goddam diseases might require, including diapering tables in adult restrooms suitable for rediapering grown-ups, and everything that the failure of any prosthetic device might require for its remediation. If the sound of your carbonated soda or carbonated soft drink dispenser nozzle dispensing its liquid products causes the urge to pee in some incontinent bastard, you become the defendant as well as the subject of adverse publicity by Two On Your Side or some other bleeding heart anarchist.

What the hell have we become? No small business can raise sufficient capital to equip itself with every possible capability that any physical or mental defective may require when in the throes of some damn attack of whatever it is that afflicts them. What this stupid regulation has accomplished is to make small business owners hope each day that these drooling unfortunates take their business elsewhere. Anyone who can’t effectively function in a saloon without the saloon having to have emergency room level capabilities should stay the fuck out of saloons in the first place. If you can’t get over a curb or a threshold without requiring architectural modification, you probably shouldn’t be drinking anyway. And heaven help us if we refuse to serve some poor bastard because he’s drooling all over himself and his eyes are rolling around in his head, and he is mumbling incoherently. If some normal person does that and we do serve him, we may be sued and prosecuted for over serving someone who was exhibiting signs of intoxication. The poor bartender has to be able to diagnose the episode as something associated with fibromyalgia or worse and to be able to distinguish between a drunk and an epileptic seizure, because if he refuses to serve the sonofabitch, then we get sued for discriminating against the disabled. If some poor bastard has a feeding tube or some other device going into his mouth/nose/throat, do we have to poor his fucking drink into the tube?

I would like to see us install dispensers in the lavatories so that folks who think they are about to get lucky may have immediate access to products intended to reduce the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. The cost of that would be negligible, as the makers of those products will provide the machines and stock them for free, so long as you agree to buy restocks on a regular basis.

But just think of what the damn blue noses will do to you if you have condom and other birth/disease control dispensers in a rest room where minors may get in and buy them. Suddenly, even without the minors issue, you are accused of running a sexually oriented business. Kiss your insurance coverage goodbye unless you can afford enormous premiums and loss of coverage after your very first claim. In Texas, people under twenty-one come into cocktail lounges/saloons all the time, usually in the company of some group of adults, including their parents. And there you are promoting promiscuity in the john. You are encouraging fornication and selling booze at the same time. Get the fuck outa here! The anti fornication league will have Channel Two on your ass by the evening news. The insane way that things work these days, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if one day the Texas Avenger sues us because we failed to have condom dispensers in the crappers and his poor client became impregnated and infected at the same time by someone who was drinking with him/her in our saloon.

I would like us to have gay and lesbian theme events and evenings. Yeah right! Just think of what the press, the anti gay and lesbian constituency, the disability act enforcers, Channel Two News and the Texas Avenger would do to us if there were to be an unfortunate mishap during one of those evenings. I would like us to have themed events and evenings that encourage mutual understanding amongst groups that might benefit from knowing more about each other. Forgetaboutit! As my fellows who have say in what goes on in the bar are quick to point out to me, people who don’t know or understand each other always hate each other, and there would be fights, shootings, knifings, race riots, more adverse television coverage and more lawsuits. We aren’t there to be the goddam United Nations or the Mutual Tolerance League or the Center For The Advancement Of Human Understanding. We are there to sell booze! We will never have Yasser Arafat and Ariel Sharon sipping martinis, chatting together and trying to pick up women in our saloon.

The old crowd is changing a bit. Some have perished. Some have moved away and stop in only when they visit Houston, expecting that we will all be standing there waiting for their return and ready to pick up the last conversation we were having exactly where we left off. We more frequently toast absent friends these days. Some are having too much fun at the first Muldoons, now run by an incredibly nice guy and his wife, and simply won’t drive this far to have fun, risking a sobriety check point stop on the way home by the anti saloon league and their minions. I don’t expect to see John Kerry there with his Bruce Wettman hairdo. Some, like our old regular, Defendant Skilling, who used to be Mr. Skilling, CEO of Enron, have been required by the court to curb their overindulgences as a condition of their bail. Skilling, after being accused of getting potted in the Big Apple and assaulting people in some paranoid drunken episode, was ordered to cool it on the booze and saloons and do community service working in some non-profit public endeavor. Before this new Muldoon’s attained profitability, Chuck called him up and invited him to come work at Muldoon’s, offering to pay him with his bar tab. Having a notorious accused financial criminal awaiting trial as your bartender could be a tremendous draw. We thought that with him there we could form an Enron Circle Stock Club, trading exclusively on inside information and making a bloody fortune.

As my public tippling has lessened in its frequency, Chuck gets lonely and will from time to time pull off some bozo ruse to attract my attention. He would never call and just say “C’mon down”. That wouldn’t be cool, wouldn’t be properly aloof, fuck you, bartender protocol. I know when those things happen that it is time to make another personal appearance. It started with his calling me to say that friends or clients of mine were in there asking after me, and why don’t I come on by and join them. When I would get there, he would say they had just left, thinking I wasn’t coming down – yeah right, Chuck. On other occasions he would say that someone or other had come in and that they had talked about me, and that they had left money to buy me a drink – so why don’t I just toddle on down and enjoy it? While someone might buy someone else a drink if he were present, no one leaves money for a drink for someone who isn’t present. And if they did, who would drive through traffic for one free drink when he was not otherwise thinking of going there? Since I knew no one had left me one drink – no one who knows me would ever think that I would be interested in only one drink – I knew it was Chuck’s way of saying that one on the house awaited me. His most frequent ruse is now to give my home number to any vendor or creditor and tell them that he has no authority and that they have to speak to Mr. Muldoon himself about whatever it is that was on their mind at the moment. He refers to me at home anything that he doesn’t have any intention of dealing with. These people call at all hours. And I know he will do that with someone every other day until I show up and socialize. He’s like a puppy at a party and no one will play with him, jumping around and trying to be cute to no avail until, in desperation, he starts humping the legs of the guests to get any attention at all. Lately, he has gone to giving my home number to pretty young women salespeople, telling them before they call that I am old and stupid and easily influenced by any good looking woman who will pretend that she might be available if I authorized some purchase or other. So they call and some salacious innuendo sales pitch ensues. The humor never ends. If Belinda answers the phone they get all flustered. They don’t expect that some old fart like I have been described to be might have a very young and young sounding woman around.   I know he will vehemently deny this entire scenario, because he doesn’t want anyone ever to think that might actually like someone. Ultimately, it is flattering to think that the guy who professes not to give a shit about anyone does these coy ploy cheap tricks to get attention, and that it is my attention he craves. He probably has similar little begging techniques that he uses with Geoff O’Donnell and some of the other old timers from the first joint.

About three or four doors down the strip center where Muldoons is located there is a Middle East “restaurant” or what passes for a restaurant in their culture, called Fadi’s, which we call Farties in honor of the flatulence that ensues if you eat the hummus they serve/sell. I never gave it much thought before, but there must be a variety of hummus farts that corresponds to the various recipes by which hummus is made from village to village and country to country from whence these people came.  I must remember to send a note to Homeland Security that they should build up a hummus fart aroma library that could be of enormous assistance in identifying where terrorists really do come from, notwithstanding what their passports may say. A Hummus fart from Basra, for instance, is probably somewhat different from a hummus fart of someone from Falluja.  Similarly, Afghan hummus farts are certainly going to be different from hummus farts of the Lebanese. Just the difference in the abundance of various ingredients would cause the effluvia to be a reliable differential identifier. All this data can, of course, be reduced to a digital data base that can be added to the software of the sniffers we have in place already that are tuned primarily to sensing poisonous gasses and aerosol particulates. What this really proves is that a great deal of valuable creative thought and original ideation frequently arises during sessions at a saloon. And, of course, the implication is that too much money is wasted on so-called experts who have useless doctorate degrees in this, that and the other, and who rarely come up with anything practical or useful. Instead of spending three billion dollars on stupid think tank fools, a couple million spent in Muldoons will reliably produce meaningful remediation to almost any problem.

But the fun aint the same as it used to be. Those of us who were the driving and guiding “spirits” of the original Muldoons have now become largely emeritus. Those who followed us lack the flair and the spontaneity; they have no really cynically abusive impulses that they can translate into exquisite sarcastic missile strikes of incisive humor. They watch too much stupid television and insipid humor. They are afraid to laugh at anything that isn’t politically correct, less someone see and report them for laughing at something that is clearly outrageous and their employers fear that their company may experience some adverse notoriety. In short, the joint is populated primarily by wussy little twerps. No wonder Chuck misses Geoff and me so much. The wussification of Texas has finally reached Muldoons. And I was upset when the yuppification of Texas invaded our sanctum sanctorum. Little did I ever know that one day I would be grateful to see a yuppie because the wussies are even worse. I would rather be in an old age home populated by nasty bastards like me than someplace filled with these terrified little twerps. I can’t even by a stretch imagine any woman ever getting aroused by one of these guys. No wonder that when I’m in Muldoons I still get an inordinate amount of female attention. Geoff O’Donnell and I could have every woman in the place if we wanted, just by standing there and exuding testosterone.

I suppose that we will simply have to await the rotation of front line troops back home to Texas if we are ever again to have the patronage of anyone who has had experiences worth talking about. My recollection of Iraqi humor is that it is very acerbic and very cynical. Hopefully, some of that has rubbed off on our returning troops and we can enjoy it when they swarm into Muldoons. I just hope we don’t run out of money or die of boredom until then.

By Seamus Muldoon, Himself
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