By Christina Li
By Dave Pehling
By Ian S. Port
By SF Weekly
By Ian S. Port
By Ian S. Port
By Ian S. Port
By Ian S. Port
"Wow," my friend Shannon said. "There's a whole lotta Judge Reinhold–lookin' mofos up in here." I had to concur. Bacar was loaded with guys in suits who looked like they would be much more comfortable watching the game with their hands down their pants, or, better still, jerking off on the toilet to "Moving in Stereo." The Brannan Street restaurant is huge, reminding me of the sort of upscale wine "salon" (as they call themselves) you'd find in an airport. The ceilings are such that if you had a balloon, you'd want to tie it to your wrist so it wouldn't sail into the ethers. The place was packed on a Tuesday night. We headed for the bar.
A bartender immediately greeted us, which is nice, especially since Bacar charges at least $7 for a draft beer. Good service is expected. There were three bartenders on duty, and, except for the one who was helping us, they were all vigorously polishing wineglasses. Man, did everything sparkle. I looked out over the expanse, down the bar and out into the dining room, and every table glimmered.
I'm not a big wine person. For me, it's like jazz: I can appreciate it, I like to read about it, and I like to be surrounded by people who dig it, but please don't make me actually partake of it. At Bacar, though, those two worlds melded for the moment, as some '60s-sounding bop stuff was playing, and all the people lined up at the bar were sipping their vino.
The drink menu was massive, with page after page of wine selections. Shannon and I preferred to try the house-made cocktails. She went with the Blow Me a Kiss, which was pink, and I had the Atlantis, for the sole reason that it had "sea beans" in it.
"What is a sea bean?" I asked the bartender. I pictured clownfish poop or something. Turns out it's more like a sprig of a juniper tree, with overlapping, scaly, coniferous leaves. The barkeep said it tasted like a radish, but to me it tasted like the ocean — sea salt, to be exact. The drink was pretty damn good.
I looked over at the staff again, and they were still polishing glasses with zeal. I bet this is what the Seven Dwarves would do, if they owned a bar. Work, work, work. A little bird told me (and no, it didn't land on my hand as if I were Snow White) that if a drink at Bacar is sent out onto the floor in an — ulp — unshined glass, it is ceremoniously rejected by the management and a solid thrashing will follow.
Shannon and I were being reunited at Bacar, as she has fallen in love, and I never see her anymore. We aren't sure exactly how the loss of our time together happened. She filled her days and nights with erotic bliss, and I probably pulled away a bit in anticipation of rejection. But the good thing is, we talked about it, and we are determined to see each other once a week. Shannon is the kind of person who notices that an entire bar is full of Judge Reinhold mofos. I need her in my life.
We clinked our glasses. "To us!"
"There's something really grounding about being in a relationship," she told me. "Knowing that there is always someone there who has your back." Yep, I seem to remember that, if I look back far enough to when I actually had a date that went somewhere. Putting my dog to sleep alone was particularly unfun. And getting sick when you are single sucks, too. As does going to weddings solo. Sigh.
I was determined not to let my ennui dampen our reunion. I also don't want to be a killjoy when one of my best friends finds happiness.
"That bartender seems like your type," she said to me, ever the matchmaker. She was right. He looked sort of British, in a Stephen Fry kind of way. His features were deeply chiseled, and he had a tattoo and a biker belt buckle.
"No more bartenders for me," I said, reckoning back to my disastrous last fling. Then I promptly forgot that and started to flirt.
"Soooo ... " I said, leaning in, "is it just me, or do you guys shine the shit out of those glasses when you have any spare moments?" (Say what you want about my looks, but I really know how to talk dirty.) He laughed. I started to ask him if he liked punk rock, seein' as he had a sort of rocker look in an upscale kind of place, but he was torn away from me by another customer.
I went back to the menu, ordering the cheese assortment from a waiter. Shannon and I always eat cheese together. It just seemed right. Our server gingerly stepped between the flurry of glass polishers to set the plate down before us. If you order cheese in a nice place, they feel the need to introduce you to it, like it was a friend from out of town that they've been telling you about. The waiter waved his hand over each piece and discussed its name and provenance. I gave a silent "Howdy-do!" and dug in with my knife. My gosh, was this good cheese.
"You know, Katy," Shannon said, swallowing a bite, "you get down about things, but at least you have had a great career and are doing the things that you want to do. I hate my job." She was right. My personal life could use work, but I can't complain professionally. "It's a tradeoff," she concluded.
Truth be told, I'm just a curmudgeon. I would be dissatisfied with my life however it was. I hate this about myself and want to change it. Oh, wait — that's a curmudgeonly thing to say. D'oh!
The chiseled-features bartender came back and gave us a sample of wine. He must've figured out that we were broke after I joked that we'd have to polish glasses ourselves to be able to afford Bacar. Then he asked how the olives were. I had to be honest and say that they were a bit strange. They were! I don't know what they were brined in. Maybe sea beans.
"He keeps looking at you," Shannon said after he walked away, giving me a nudge.
"Yeah, yeah," I responded. I am realizing that when push comes to shove, I like being single. Or I am just lazy.
Shannon and I smiled at each other quietly. We were feeling quite chic, quite content, and quite happy. I had my pal back.
Some guy let out a loud "Whooop!" at the table near us, and the sound traveled up to the rafters and bounced around like a lost balloon. If I had a monocle, I would've slowly placed it upon my face and glared at him down my nose. "Sir!" I would exclaim, "one does not whoop in a wine salon!"
"Judge Reinhold mofo," Shannon muttered under her breath. I giggled.