I get off work at 9 on the Upper East Side on weeknights, and live in Queens, so that puts me in a little bit of a bind for night games. Normally, I follow the first bit on Gameday, and then hurry home and am able to catch the last couple innings, and that is alright. But tonight’s game had me worried, not about the outcome, which never seemed in any particular jeopardy after the Mets put up four runs against Dontrelle Willis in the first, but about he zeros that kept coming up under the Marlins hits. If I took the subway home was I going to miss precious innings of the first no-hitter in Mets history? Well, almost certainly not, and earlier I might have accepted this, and gone home as I had been planning to do, straighten out the apartment, do some writing, and go to bed early. But as I was leaving work I realized I have a blog, god dammit, and anything that I missed would be the internet’s loss as well. So, much against my inclination, I went and got a beer at Phoenix Park.
Phoenix Park is an Irish sports bar on the Upper East Side. The food is actually good, and the bartenders are friendly, but it attracts the sort of young, and much less young, professionals who like to drink to excess on the Upper East Side in the presence of sports.
When I got to the bar, Maine was pitching and there was a runner on first. The bar was nearly packed, although this was clearly unrelated to the game. I tried to find out what had happened, but everyone who was watching anything was watching the Yankees. Someone told me that the bartender was a Mets fan, but when I finally got his attention to order a beer, it was obvious that he was too overworked to have seen much.
Without any particular warning, a woman climbed up on the bar and preceded to dance- at no point was her motivation for doing this in any way clear. She was dark haired, perhaps in her thirties; she was one of a small minority of women in the bar. She undulated to the music and encouraged her meeker, more awkward blond friend to join her. I had seen her around there before, drinking with the men who, unsatisfied, were hooting for her to take off her clothes.
Although she demurred on her friend’s requests, she was encouraged into increasingly sexual positions with a column over the bar. Glassy eyed, pudgy men in suites kept coming out of the back of the bar to take pictures with their cell phones and offer encouragement. At some point the Marlin’s hit a home run off of Maine, and someone said “there goes the no hitter” and went back to watching hockey- I latter realized that the no-no had been gone since I got there. The blond climbed onto the bar and they thrust their pelvises in each other’s general vicinity.
I watched another inning while I finished my beer, and reflected that, while I spend some time in some fairly low bars in Queens, that do not have much in the way of standards regarding temperance or human behavior- this was, at least for nine o’clock on a Wednesday, something of a first. And in places where my beer would have cost me four dollars, instead of six, I would not have had to worry about running into the dancers again, and coping with mixed feelings of arousal and disgust over a burger and a pint, or listen to their male friend’s illuminating discourse on finance, relationships, and the news, while wondering under what circumstances they looked at their cell phone pictures.