Mary, Mary, Where Have You Gone?

As you read the title of this post, I know what you’re thinking.  “This poor sap is pining over some chick he lusted after and never had a chance with.”

But that’s not true.  You see, Mary was a bartender at one of my favorite bars in San Diego, the Beachcomber.  And while she was quite hot –skinny and blonde with a surprisingly healthy rack– my fond memories of her have very little to do with her hotness.

When you work in college athletics you wind up working a lot of weekend nights.  Friday and Saturday night sporting events really cut into your prime drinking time.  We would always bust our asses to wrap up after games as quick as we could so we could get out and have some semblance of a night out, but the truth is the weekends were not when we had most of our fun.

Tripod and I used to go to the Beachcomber on Monday nights.  Originally it was supposed to just be a laid back night for us, have a few drinks and unwind from the weekend, get prepared for the upcoming Wednesday and Thursday nights when we did the majority of our damage.

But, like most of our attempts at “low key,” we failed miserably.

The Beachcomber was a ghost town on Monday nights outside of football season.  There were many times when Tripod and I were the only customers there.  But since we knew most everyone that worked there from our regular Thursday night debauchery we liked it.  We were kind of like Norm from Cheers.

Mary was a fixture at the ‘Comber, a great bartender who knew her shit, treated her customers well, and was fun to look at on top of it all.  Why she bothered working those dead Monday nights I have no idea.  But I’m sure glad she did.  Because once we started coming in regularly she decided to make us her personal guinea pigs to experiment on with new shots.  We would sit there for hours, paying for a handful of gin and tonics (and whatever the fuck Tripod was drinking that week; that guy can never just pick a drink and stick with it) while getting a near endless supply of free shots.  Good shots, bad shots, fruity shots, bitter shots, pretty shots, flaming shots, straight shots; you name it, we tried it all.

One night sticks out in particular.  Tripod and I were good and drunk, it was near closing time, and Mary had already plied us with more free shots than we could count.  I have no idea how it came about, but Mary and the bouncer had the brilliant idea that we should take shots of Wild Turkey straight through a straw.

Now, in retrospect, there’s nothing at all that sounds appealing about this.  The idea of a shot is to pound it and get it headed towards your stomach before your body realizes just how disgusting it is.  A straw totally defeats the purpose of this, it makes you taste every drop of it.  Not smart.

But of course we were too stupid to think about that.  About the best defense I could come up with was to ask for a chaser.

Big mistake.

I should have just gotten another round of our usual drinks, something I knew I’d enjoy and would properly cleanse the palette.  But instead, Mary got a mischievous look in her eye and said we should do Mind Erasers for chasers.

For those of you that don’t know, Mind Erasers are shots themselves.  Really big shots.  A typical Mind Eraser is 6 ounces, 2 ounces each of vodka, Kahlua and tonic water.  Like our Wild Turkey, you drink it with a straw, and by the time you’ve sucked it all down there’s a good chance your mind has started to erase the night from your memory.

We should have said no.  Hell, we should have run out of the bar and never looked back.  But we weren’t that smart.  And Mary had a peculiar power over us; she could make us drink just about anything.  I think it was a combination of her bartending skills and her engaging personality.  And probably her breasts.

So we did it.  Slurped down straight Wild Turkey, fighting the urge to vomit the entire way.  Then chased it with a Mind Eraser.  Slurped that down too, right down to the ice.

As soon as I put my glass down I turned to Tripod and said, “We need to leave right now. ‘Cause when this hits my bloodstream in about 15 minutes we won’t be going anywhere ’til morning.”

I sped all the way back to Tripod’s apartment in a race against time.  I’m sure I was over the legal limit before the Wild Turkey and the Mind Eraser.  And things were getting downright scary by the time I pulled into the driveway of his apartment.  But we made it.  I turned off the engine and neither of us moved.  I let the wave of alcohol hit me and just resigned myself to the coma.  For the next three hours the only reason either of us moved was to stumble outside to piss in the bushes.  I don’t think we even said a word to each other, and I’m pretty sure the sun was starting to come up by the time Tripod finally stumbled off to his apartment and I drove the rest of the way home.

Shortly after that epic night, Mary succumbed to the dark side and got lured away from the Beachcomber to work at some fancy schmancy hotel lounge/club downtown.  Tripod and I went one night to see her and check the new place out, but after paying $11 for drinks and not getting any free shots we quickly realized that not even the great Mary could turn this place into a bar we would want to drink at.

That was almost ten years ago.  I like to think that Mary found her soul again and went back to working at dive bars and getting people good and truly fucked up, as was her calling in life.  I sure hope so.



  1. *sigh* i need to find a good dive bar around here. Stupid dry county.

    • A good dive bar is worth its weight in gold. We don’t have any here in Utah either. Sounds like we both need to escape where we live.

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