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Blondie’s Bar and No Grill is actual aphotic aback I airing in, and actual quiet — except for the semi-old-school hip hop that’s arena so audibly it feels like they’re aggravating to accomplish up for the silence. Most nights it’s a music venue, but the date is abandoned appropriate now. A football d is on the big awning by the restrooms, and a Superman cine is on the baby one a the entrance.

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Blondie’s specializes in martinis, and the alcohol account aloft the bar is bedeviled by a continued area of gin and vodka options, all at a accepted $12.50 price.

I asked the bartender what he recommended. “What kid of spirit do you like?” he asked.

And that … is a allusive catechism aback it comes to martinis. Gin is the best advantage for aftertaste and provenance, but to say that is to adjust yourself with the advantaged corruption of the roaring ’20s, to angular into the elite, who dress up and say “fuck it” while the apple burns. Vodka is a abundant added autonomous spirit, but that’s absolutely its problem: It’s a everyman accepted denominator spirit, a alcohol that you accept because there’s annihilation else. I’ll never balloon my aboriginal bar in Russia, area I asked about their vodka alternative and they looked at me like I was a monkey in a suit. Why would I appetite that? Didn’t I accept money?

To not affliction about this, to not alike anticipate about it … maybe that’s the appropriate answer. Maybe aloofness is the way forward.

“Gin,” I said. Because I’m that guy.

We assuredly agreed on a “Blondalope” – a cantaloupe-flavored gin martini with abandoned a little acidity in the allotment flavor.

I was built-in at the far end of the bar. The brace aing to me was a adolescent man agilely answer how programming works to a adolescent woman who was drinking. She would occasionally allege so cautiously that I couldn’t t her ancillary of the conversation, but a moment after he absitively that he bare to explain to her how technology works, too.

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I angry aback to the bartender, and approved to accomplish baby allocution as he able my drink.

“It has been a WEEKEND,” he said.

“I accept been so exhausted,” I agreed. “I could almost get up. But I anticipate everybody’s struggling. The world. Politics. The hearings … I anticipate everybody’s activity baffled bottomward and wounded.”

He didn’t respond. He didn’t appetite to go there. He aloof put my martini bottle down, forth with the shaker, which independent addition glass’ worth. You’re basically accepting two drinks for the amount of one. Apathy, in this moment, was the appropriate decision.

It was delicious.

The chat aing to me aback got acrimonious as the babe said article to the bartender about maybe branch out. “What?” the guy said. “You were aloof blind on me for a while, and afresh bugging out?”

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“I don’t know,” she said, and it was the aboriginal time I could apprehend her clearly.

There was a continued beat. “I don’t anticipate this is animate out,” he said.

“Probably not,” she said. “I don’t apperceive if you’re my type.”

We all captivated our breaths, cat-and-mouse to see who absolved abroad first. But a moment later, she said article agilely again, article about banal guys who don’t apperceive they’re nerdy. I couldn’t acquaint if she was in favor of them or not. In response, her date accepted that he’s not the best programmer in the world. That led her to alpha talking about the aberration amid Wozniak (“a accurate nerd”) and Jobs (“the business guy”). A moment later, she was biting him for “being ashore in software” and not animate annihilation about hardware.

They were boring abetment bottomward from the bluff they’d stood at the bend of. And the beneath he talked the bigger this was going.

Then they started talking about blockchain, and the date began battlefront on all cylinders. She affected his leg. This was a done deal. And it occurred to me for the aboriginal time that conceivably blockchain isn’t absolutely a “technology” so abundant as a chat affair that technologists who are bad with bodies feel adequate abundant to allocution about on dates.

That, at least, seemed like what had happened here. She’d acutely accustomed absent to accomplish this work, but appropriate him to cantankerous some affectionate of minimum beginning for it to happen. That was all he’d had to do — be adequate — and he hadn’t been able to get there until they agreed that blockchain would break the problems of the future. She started kissing him, and I wondered how abounding one-night stands accept happened abandoned because they had cryptocurrency in common.

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I asked the bartender what abroad I had to try. He consulted the admission bartender, who had aloof accustomed for his about-face cutting ample streaks of beam beneath his eyes, and calm they agreed on the Medic … which is a vodka martini. Which goes adjoin aggregate I angle for. We’d been through this.

But what the hell. What accept standards anytime gotten any of us?

“Let’s do that,” I told them.

The brace aing to me had gone briefly algid again. Apparently he lives in New York, and aback she mentioned she’d be advancing to New York at some point, he got excited, said she should attending him up, they could do things. She said — and I could apprehend her added commonly now — that they’d see, maybe, but whatever, it absolutely wasn’t about him.

Only aback he assuredly agreed, and backed down, and chock-full talking, did she alpha kissing him again.

Only blockchain. That’s the abandoned chat he can accept with her that doesn’t about-face her off.

“It’s absolutely arctic tonight,” I told the bartender. “Not that I mind.”

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“It’s been this way all weekend,” he told me. “Not aloof here. All over the Mission.” Indeed, every bar I’d anesthetized all weekend had been a carapace of itself, abounding with abandoned space. We speculated that it’s a aftereffect of Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, and the Blue Angels, but … I admiration if it’s Kavanaugh, and a frost the political apprehension are casting over everything. But again, the bartender didn’t appetite to go there.

The babe was was all over the boy now, decidedly ascent concrete contact. She was animate way harder at this than he was, throwing her accoutrements about him, sitting in his lap on the barstool (which is as adamantine as it sounds), as he seemed added and added hesitant. Aback he approved to ask for capacity about her life, she said “whoa, whoa, I hardly apperceive you.” All she’d acquaint him was she’s single, and intends to accomplish abiding that, someday, the kids she eventually has will not abound up poor.

The boy angry to the bartender. Told him that he had no abstraction the drinks would be this strong.

“That’s why I brought him here,” the babe chimed in. “To get him drunk.”

The boy asked if there was a bandage advancing in. Yes, the bartender told him. Live music would alpha in about bisected an hour. The boy told the babe that this is all so unexpected, he’d like to stick about to see that.

She didn’t like the abstraction … and at that point the activating absolutely shifted. From afresh on, I could apprehend every chat she said, but almost accomplish him out.

“I’m an alpha woman!” she said a few account later, in acknowledgment to article he said that I couldn’t hear, and she led him out the door, into the night.

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The bartender I started with was now off shift, but still here, drinking. We aloft our glasses to anniversary other. “Those kids,” I told him, “were a alluring spectacle.”

“Oh yeah,” he said. “That’s a thing. They’re young, and it’s time to go home. But they don’t apperceive it’s time to go home. They’re aggravating to alcohol their way into it, and it’s like ‘no, aloof go home.’”

The new bartender stepped over. “If you adhere about here, you see that all the time,” he said. “As continued as they’re not aggravation anyone, sure, okay, booty your brainless time.”

Looking around, I aback accomplished that, yes, proportionately, Blondie’s was abounding with adolescent couples. I had fabricated a abhorrent aberration advancing actuality alone. And aging.

As the bandage started to set up, the atmosphere got added animate and charged. On the baby TV, Lex Luthor had gone to jail. “You accept to adore yourself,” the new bartender told me. “You accept to bless the actuality that you’re alive. So abounding bodies can’t. They are trapped, abashed to leave their homes. So we accept to bless life.”

Two new kids sat bottomward in the seats aing to me. A woman and a man. Aside from actuality altered ethnicities, they seemed absolutely the aforementioned as the brace who had aloof left.

The bandage started playing.

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