There is a tale they tell in the Bronx barrio my boyfriend BG calls home. In the humid summer evenings, when the wizened old men and young bloods gather on the streets with their folding chairs, seeking respite from the stifling, sweltering confines of their air-conditionerless abodes, a story is passed along that is so incredible, so tragic, that it has taken on the awesome status of urban legend. It is a tale of heartbreak, despair, and dashed hopes.
It is the story of the fateful day when Ubba the Gringo dropped the bottle.
My boyfriend BG's brother Ubba (derived from Stubba or Stubbs, due to Ubba's shorter stature amongst his 6 feet plus bros) came up to visit when he could from Louisiana, usually in late October, in time to celebrate BG's Halloween birthday. Liberal consumption of alcoholic substances inevitably ensued. Although I always made a valiant attempt to plan Halloween-related outings, they often backfired due to BG's hangover-ridden state.
And so we wound up — day after day, during the time of year when New York City is at its most glorious — escaping the brilliant blue skies, low humidity, and perfect temperatures by hiding out in the small neighborhood Irish bar where the sun never shone. BG's favorite saying was, I believe, attributed to W.C. Fields: "It's much too nice of a day to spend outdoors."
This particular bar was the last holdout from the olden days, when the street was lined with Irish drinking establishments. But times had changed, and unless one wanted to take a 45-minute subway ride into "the City," as we referred to Manhattan, the choices were limited.
The bar in question had its pros and cons. The prices were way cheaper than in Manhattan - no happy hour, but an everyday low price of $3.50 for a drink or a beer. Although the Irish bartenders were cordial but standoffish, they knew how to pour a man-sized drink, so if you ordered a few scotches on the rocks you were in for a rip roaring, rollicking time. With every three rounds came a buyback, like clockwork - while you were still working on your second, a coaster would be laid down in front of you to let you know the next one was one the house. No umbrella drinks here, my boys--just the old Irish tunes playing on the juke, a small pool table in back, and a bunch of hardened drinkers and sports fans.