Last night I was at the 169, drinking gin-tonics.
After my first I shouted to Dakota for a refill.
The lanky Arizonan was serving a two-deep crowd, but took the time to come over and say, "You have to learn to wait your turn. You're on a five-minute ban for service."
"Make it twenty." Dakota set his cellphone timer for 20.
I asked Mikie for help.
"You're in the sin bin. No drinks or beer for twenty minutes. You think you can make it?"
"Sure I can."
But I wasn't happy about the moratorium.
I had 19 minutes to go.
Paige sat next to me with her cousin and his girlfriend.
They thought my penalty was funny.
"Bitches," I said under my breath.
So did the two Aussies next to me.
17 minutes to go.
Dakota ignored my pleas.
He was a man of his word.
So was I and I muttered, "Dickaota."
Mikie and Edward were not moved by entreaties for a drink.
I didn't have a dog in this fight and said nothing more, plus they were closer to Dakota than me.
13 minutes to go.
A James Bond movie was on the TV.
He was with an attractive Japanese woman.
They drank saki.
But Sean Connery was the best of all the James Bonds.
11 minutes left.
The lights played tricks with my eyes.
I wasn't wearing my glasses.
10 minutes and counting every second.
The young Saturday Night crowd was having a good time.
They had drinks.
"Ass-kissing young people."
9 minutes and I was losing it.
Paige's boyfriend was on his way.
I called Steve on my flip phone.
I wanted him to bring a small bottle of gin.
That would show Dakota.
There was no answer.
"Oh, Steve, why have you forsaken me?"
8 minutes had 480 seconds.
I glared at Dakota.
He smiled back.
The Arizonan had the power.
"Dakota, you done me wrong."
Dakota pointed to his phone.
"Tick tock, tick tock."
The room swirled around me.
No one took pity.
I was on my own.
6 minutes felt like twenty.
I spotted a junior bank exec was drinking my drink.
"Don't even think about it," warned Dakota.
"I wasn't going to steal his drink."
I went back to my seat.
5 minutes was 3/4s of the way to twenty.
My glass was not half-full.
It was empty.
Not even the ice cubes remained.
"Did I deserve this treatment?" I asked Paige, who shrugged out that it didn't matter to her
"She was so cruel."
4 minutes was a good time for running a mile.
I had read the bar signs before.
Now they had a special meaning.
I was an official piece of dog paddy.
90 seconds equaled 3 minutes.
Paige offered me her beer.
She was a nice girl.
The can was empty.
I held my breath.
One minute to go.
I was in the home stretch.
Dakota came over with a new glass filled to the brim.
"See. Twenty minutes isn't too long."
"I've learned my lesson."
"Don't shout at you when you busy and there are paying drinks ahead of me."
He went back to the crowd.
"I love you, man."
But I loved my GT better.
On the way out the boys gave me a send off.
"I love you, guys."
Gin makes me sentimental.
Entering the subway for the F train, I said hello to my favorite tree in Chinatown.
It grew out of a wall.
For the last three years.
"I love you, tree."
I patted its leaves.
Home was only twenty-three minutes away.