Sometimes when you’re relaxing at your favorite bar with friends, some guy will come out of nowhere and flip your table into the crowd spilling drinks and red hot candle wax on everyone. Then your friend will throw a broken glass at the guy’s face as he runs out the door. That’s what happened when I went to the Phone Booth on 25th and South Van Ness two weeks ago and that’s why the bartender told me not to come back. Whatever.
The Phone Booth is unique because it’s one of the only spots in town where you can still smoke inside, but other than that it’s just like every other dark little dive in the Mission. The bartenders are rude, the drinks are cheap, the music is annoying, and the people are drunk. Crazy stuff happens at these places all the time and that’s why we keep coming back. We’re patiently waiting for some ridiculous bastard to pull us out of our lull, to give us a story we can share with friends later.
Last night I went to one of these bars, The Attic on 24th and Mission, to collect stories.
It was quiet for a Saturday night –only about 50 people crammed inside as opposed to over a hundred like normal– and no one looked thrilled to be there, least of all the bartender, a tall oafish looking dude who ignored me for ten minutes before sauntering up to see what I wanted. I ordered a Pacifico and asked him to tell me a story.
“Nothing crazy ever happens here,” he said. “Unless you call a bunch of fake ass punks crazy.” He slammed my drink on the bar with a sneer and then added. “I’ve seen plenty of people get their asses beat here. Is that crazy?”
I hate the bartender from the Attic and I always have. Luckily, there was a guy sitting next to me who had overheard our exchange.
“I saw some dude do that Silence of the Lambs thing over in the corner one night,” said Steven Eric Schafer, a frequent patron of The Attic. “He jumped up on the back of his seat with his pants around his ankles and then fell onto a table and broke it in half. The bartenders didn’t even notice.”
No big surprise there. I’d finished my beer nearly a half an hour ago and the bartender was nowhere in sight. So I headed outside to collect more stories.
It was approaching midnight now and a few small groups of twenty/thirty-somethings were shivering in the cold, smoking cigarettes, and laughing. I walked up to a guy in a leather jacket and said, “Hey, what’s the craziest thing you’ve ever seen here?” He shrugged his shoulders and walked inside.
The kid standing next to him mumbled something about seeing a drive by in front of the Lexington Club one night, but none of the other people standing around would look at me.
What the hell? I thought. This is The Attic. I’ve seen people puke on each other here. I’ve seen a post-op transsexual do a strip tease right around the corner. Doesn’t anyone have a story to share?
That’s when Tony Tulathimutte walked up. Tony is a 25 year-old writer who lives in Noe Valley and hangs out at The Attic at least once a week.
“This didn’t happen here,” he said. “But last week I was at The Uptown and I saw these two guys fighting. They grappled with each other for a few minutes and then started breaking bottles. There was glass everywhere and they were just throwing it at each other and screaming for like twenty minutes. It was insane.”
Tony and I smoked in silence for the next few minutes and then he said. “Also, I was at Benders the other night and I saw someone’s boob. Does that count?”
I said yes and thank you and then I stubbed my cigarette out and headed back inside.