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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Royal Enfield, One for All

Michael was the first to stop by the Three Down bar after The Incident. He's a handsome young man (young to me, anyway) with curly brown hair. He took a stool at the center of the bar.

By the way, that's a very nice thing to do when you are the first in. By sitting in the center you let on that you'd be willing to talk to anyone who comes in on the left or right. Since your back is to the door, you're not sizing up people as they're considering whether to come in. It's very welcoming.

"Is that you, Michael?" my wife Bonnie called from the kitchen. "It's lasagna tonight, Michael, ground beef or vegetarian, your choice. Very delicious!"

"It sounds great, Bonnie. But we're going out tonight. Just a beer, please, thank you."

Michael accepted his beer and coaster and took a sip, with just a glance to the right, down the bar, at the empty stool on the end.

That's Sam's empty chair, at the corner of the bar. Everyone knows Sam doesn't come in early. Michael's glance was more like a little genuflection in an empty church. Sam is the real boss in this bar, not me, although I own it and he'd deny it. Sam is the reason this is a Royal Enfield motorcycle bar. He knows the most about them.

Sam's stool in the corner is the Alpha Male position in any bar. From there, he can take in the sweep of the bar, and look every man in the eye. The hallway is there, so no one can sit behind him. And, I've never seen anyone do this at the Three Down, but, obviously, the kitchen is just a few steps down that hall and it has its own door out the back if you need it.

"Have you been to the new place, yet?" Michael asked me. I knew he was spreading the word about the new meeting place where "Speed" and his friends would gather. The word "yet" was my invitation. I was being told that they held nothing against me and that I would be welcome.

It was "members only" at the new place. Those who had been on the other side of the blow up at the Three Down would have to swallow their pride to get in.

"No," I replied. "I haven't been there."

It would have been the kind thing to do to just add the small word "yet," as though I might visit. But I would not.

It wasn't the loss of business I cared about. Running the Three Down is what I do in my retirement. We're only open five days, and never late. What made me mad was that Speed and his crew had broken up The Old Gang over a misunderstanding.

They would have more polite company at the new place, with everyone catering to Speed and assuring him that this was all so much better than the old days. Bless them for it, if that is what they wanted.

I felt the regulars I had left were unlovable, back-biting louts sometimes. But they were more interesting.

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