Monticello Road is a community arts project in Charlottesville, Virginia. Through photography and a series of public events and conversations, we explore how an art can be an essential, integral and everyday part of a healthy community.

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Thursday, May 8, 2008

Barfight Averted

The other night I headed over to Clem’s for a post-studio pint, as is my habit. Clem’s is close to the perfect bar, but it has one flaw—and it is the type of problem that cannot be overcome. They have one bartender who possesses the planet’s absolute worst taste in music. It’s really bad and a bar with loud, bad music is just unbearable.

You might have encountered the guy—he likes to keep a cocktail straw in his mouth. On the way down the block, I vowed to myself that if Straw Guy was working I would go someplace else—like home.

I arrived to find the hotplaygroundmom we’ll call Goldilox hanging outside smoking with some equally hot female friends. I said to myself, “That’s it: I’m stayin’.” So I went inside and ordered a beer. In my distracted state I didn’t notice who was serving my drink until it was too late. It was him!

Then a perverse but admittedly magical thing happened. As he put my beer down, his straw somehow flipped out of his mouth, twisted end-over-end a few times in mid-air before striking me right in the forehead.

Why didn’t I pick up my stool right then and there and smash it to bits over his head? Was I afraid of starting a barroom brawl, being slid down the bar like a bowling ball or thrown through a plate glass window? No more so than usual.

What stayed my hand that night was a voice from the other end of the bar telling one of the other customers some unimaginably good news,

“We both forgot our iPods,” the waitress was saying. “So tonight it’s customers’ choice.” The words fell on me like manna from Heaven and my rage instantly dissolved. Then Goldilox came back in and her friends turned out to be a charming mix of artists and hotplaygroundmoms too.

Yup: definitely stayin’.

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