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   playa at Forum
Wednesday, November 19 2003
This evening Gretchen and I went out to a new bar on Broadway (near the intersection with Albany Avenue). The bar is called Forum, although since it's all hip and happening (more so than usual for Kingston) it writes its name forum (assuming you have the Courier font). It's so hip, in fact, that there's a sign at the door saying you must be "25 and over" to get in. I've never heard of bar having such an arbitrary age cut-off not based in the law of the land. Gretchen and I believe this rule is there to give Forum more range to be exclusive. You can tell the kind of customers they want by their special nights of the week. One of them is "Tattoosday," where you get a dollar drink for each piercing and tattoo on your body.
The idea for going to Forum tonight had its origins in a suggestion by Nikki, one of the employees at the Ulster County SPCA, where Gretchen volunteers in the cat room every Wednesday. [REDACTED]
Forum is an extremely dark bar, lit entirely by red-spectrum lightbulbs. Such ruddy light automatically grants everyone instant youth and flawless skin. Even before the whiskey goggles go on, people are already looking pretty good. Forum is a simple bar with no discernible food offerings, though there is a pool table, an eclectic jukebox, a light-show-equipped dance floor, complete with a special spinning room for DJs.
The main bartender tonight was a Britney Spears look-alike dressed in black with pink accents. One of her co-workers, though, looked substantially more alternative, like he wouldn't have been out of place in a noise band. The customers were your typical Kingston mix, including the young and the old, the black and the white, the men, and (partly because it was "laidies night") women. But nearly all of these women were part of Nikki's contingent.
This contingent consisted of us, Nikki, and a young woman from out near Phoenicia. She was hot and looked substantially younger than Forum's 25 year age minimum. The bad thing was, she acted even younger. Her idea of conversation was finding out who was going out with whom and establishing what "sign" we all were. (It's things like this that make it difficult for Gretchen to converse with anyone younger than thirty.)
We commandeered the pool table for a single prolonged (poorly-played) game, but just as were racking up the balls, the white guy who had been using it some minutes before claimed it was still his, something that clearly wasn't the case (there were no quarters stacked on it). Gretchen wasn't going to let this guy browbeat us into relinquishing our table and she said, "Look, we just want to have this table to play one game, then you can have it back." "Fine," the guy said, slinking off. Then he muttered something about "rednecks" - that had to be the first time any of us had ever been labeled with this epithet (although Gretchen does occasionally accuse me of being a redneck, not entirely without cause).
It being Laidies Night, drinks were $1 for everyone in our contingent except me, but when I went to buy myself a Jack on the rocks, it turned out an older gentleman at the bar was paying for it. The jukebox played a number of tunes including Robert Palmer's "Addicted to Love" and Michæl Jackson's "Smooth Criminal," an appropriate song given that Mr. Jackson was then a fugitive charged with child molestation. "Smooth Criminal" is from Jackson's 1988 album Bad, but surprisingly Gretchen had never heard of it. (For my part, I only discovered it a few months ago on VH1.) This probably has something to do with the fact that we were in college and listening to very little pop radio music in 1988.
Meanwhile the television was tuned to CBS and showing us the Victoria's Secret lingerie fashion show. Thin women with masculine bodies sauntered the runway serious-faced, dressed only in their undies, sometimes outfitted with such accessories as angel wings. Preposterous though it was, it was difficult to turn away once your eyes drifted up to the screen. Such is broadcast teevee in a sweeps month. Wait a minute - is the arrest of Michæl Jackson timed to coincide with a sweeps month?

As Gretchen and I were leaving the bar together, a guy out in front seemed impressed that I was successfully leaving with a woman, particularly at this early hour (evidently he'd never seen couples, let alone a husband and wife unit, together at the Forum). He congratulated me, saying, "Whoah, playa! You da man!" And then he gave me one of those handshakes where my hand ended up in the armpit of his poofy winter coat.

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