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Bouncer Battles a Weirdo at Aub Zam Zam 

Wednesday, Jan 18 2012
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"MAN DIS WAS 1 OF MY FAVORITE SHOWS HERE!!! BARBRA ENDEN WAS "SEXY" AS HELL HAHAHAHA!!!!!! MN WISH I HAD A JEANNE LIKE DAY!!! WHEW!!!" — Facebook post about I Dream of Jeannie from one of my old high school classmates, Jan. 9.

Most people avoid old classmates on Facebook, but not me. I love to get the updates from the super-Christians, the Republicans, the avid bicyclists, the homemakers, the gangstas, the divorcees, and the antisocial psychopaths who were all in my class.

The fellow I have quoted above did not strike me as being completely fucking dumb in high school, but he has definitely proven himself as such online, much to my morning coffee routine's delight. This post made me spit out my Philz, and I spent the rest of the day muttering "Wish I had a Jeanne like day, whew!" under my breath whenever I saw something I liked (cute dog, cute baby, cute cupcake).

Maybe it was the vision of Barbara Eden (sorry, "Enden") in my head that led me to Aub Zam Zam in the Haight. Once inside I always feel like I am in her bottle-boudoir, which is not an entirely pleasant thought. On the show she was usually banished to her bottle when she was bad, or she went there to hide from mortals she wanted to avoid. She had many feelings churning inside her in there. Bars are the same for me. I love having a place to escape, but I also like the freedom of leaving my confines and breathing in the outside air.

I was actually heading up the street to go somewhere else, but Zam Zam called to me. "Wish I had a Jeanne like day, whew!" I ducked inside. The interior is round and casbah-ish, and the music is generally from about 60 years ago, which is A-OK with me.

The storied history of this place is that it was once run by a now-deceased curmudgeon, prick, or asshole, depending on whom you talk to. My experience with guys like this is that their legend is usually exaggerated. Sure, they were dicks to a lot of people, but have you ever been in a bar? Dicks make up about 60 percent of the clientele. It takes a dick to serve a dick. If you enter a bar with money in your hand, sit down and order a basic drink, and keep your yap shut, you might even grow to like these guys — and they you. Sadly, the grisly specter of customer service has invaded our town, and shithead bartenders don't last long anymore.

I wasn't paying any attention to the bartender on this visit, because the ninja warrior with a dog-eared copy of The Art of War and steely gaze pulled me in immediately. This is a bar patron subtype that is rarely mentioned, yet every hole in the wall has one. This is the sort of person who would be a steam punk if he weren't in his 40s with no motivation and, worse still, no goggles. He is usually reading something seminal and martial, like Sun Tzu, or the Bhagavad Gita, or The Idiot's Guide to Picking Up Women.

I have a theory that most counterculture males go through a Bukowski period, usually followed by a bit of Kerouac. This generally falls in their 20s. Their 30s become a wash of pulp novels, whiskey, and women (the latter only if they are above a 7 on the looks-scale) and then the emptiness starts to creep in as they reach 40. By then they are a heady mixture of What Does it All Mean? and anger, which of course leads them to philosophical meditations on war. I haven't figured out what is in store for them at 50, but I'm leaning toward yoga, Buddhism, and avant-garde jazz.

The ninja went back to his book after giving me the once-over. Not one to be beaten in battle, I also gave him the once-over. He had the token olive drab pants tucked into black combat boots; the '80s nonconformist hairdo, and just a wisp (a wisp, I tell you!) of goth. I had to talk to this guy. I once read The Art of War and basically took away this from it: Know your enemy. I had a strong feeling that this guy's enemy was nosy chicks who try and draw him out, so I was going to do him a favor by introducing myself. "Sun Tzu?" I said. He grunted. "When's the epic skirmish?" He stared at me, unamused. There he sat, like so many before him, an anti-social weirdo who insisted on going out in public and reading provocative literature but was loathe to have anyone interact with him about it in any way. I've been at this game a long time, and I am frankly sick of these guys. I cut to the chase. "Why do you read a book like that in front of other people but get prickly when someone asks you about it?" He sputtered and dug into his stool, debating whether or not I was worth engaging in battle. I continued. "You're like those people with cute dogs or babies, who seem annoyed when anyone points that fact out. I mean, if you don't like attention, don't have a bulldog dressed like Dorothy Gale on a leash." He began to pack up his book. I was losing him. Time to pull out the big guns. "Wish I had Jeanne like day! WHEW!!" He put his tip on the bar and scuttled indignantly out the door. Game, set, match. No one can say I haven't read my Sun Tzu.

I was quite pleased with myself — though I was then faced with the emptiness of having no one to sit next to. After two drinks, the genie bottle started to feel oppressive. A burrito sounded mighty good, too. "Like day! Whew!" I tipped my invisible hat to the bartender and made my leave.

About The Author

Katy St. Clair

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