The Howdy Partner
“I Know What Boys Like.”
– The Waitresses
<<after shitty days at the Bucket o’ Blood (which, let us be honest Finnegan, you feel are most of them) Hopskotch talks you out of quitting and instead going to visit two of your favorite women in the world. Star and Dasha are waitresses at the gay cowboy themed pizzeria, the Howdy Partner. the beer some in large quantities for small change, the pizza is fabulous and there is always good music on the free juke box to dance to. the Howdy Partner is just around the corner and a couple blocks south of the Bucket o’ Blood. the Howdy Partner is ninety degrees across the street from the Belly Bar>>
Thanks for being so specific. I always wondered at what angle the Howdy Partner sat at.
&&&image of the three establishments on a street map. celebrity home tour style&&
<<you used to go to goth rock concerts back in the 1980’s with Star and you met and lived with Dasha back in your first years of college; so these people know you and know when you are sad and about to give up on life. Dasha and Star usually get off work about the same time that you and Hopskotch do in the afternoons (funny how the foodservice industry works that way) and their boss at the Howdy Partner, cock puppet that he is, does let them have free beer for a couple hours. beer is social lubricant, it erases the memories of certain peoples’ lack of social niceties>>
“After you Finnegan.”, says Hopskotch Sunday as he holds open the door.
<<Star walks up to greet Hopskotch and you as you walk in through the front door and out of the Oklahellmouth Wind>>
“Hey friends! It’s so good to see you!”, says Star.
<<she kisses Hopskotch on the cheek and turns to give you a hug>>
“What vile shit happened to you girl?”, Star asks you before embracing.
“Work is hell and…”, you start.
“Hell is other people.”, Hopskotch interjects and insists.
<<both you and Star turn and give Hopskotch the Sarcastic Bear Stare, before resuming the walk to a table where Dasha is finishing counting her daily dose of customer money>>
“Hola Amigo and Amiga! Come, have a seat. Care for a frosty oat soda? What’s wrong with you Finn? You look like Notnek drop kicked your kid.”, Dasha says.
<<Dasha continues to focus on her math money as she addresses you. her friends scoot into the horseshoe shaped booth next to her. at the mention of your offspring, you start to sob>>
“She was about to tell me on the way in; about the hell of work… can you believe it? And something else…”, Star informs her co-worker.
<<you pull out a handkerchief and blow your nose and wipe at you streaming eyes>>
“Well friends, can I get you two a couple pints of Lamb’s Blood Lager before we start?”, Star asks you and Hopskotch.
<<you nod and Hopskotch smiles as he says,>> “Yes please, I like my beer dark like my men.”, <<grinning from ear to ear as he says it>>
<<Hopskotch’s white teeth gleam in the bar light against his dark dark brown skin. Dasha groans at the millionth gay bar joke she has heard at work today>>
It’s actually a gay cowboy themed pizzeria.
<<i am sorry, what?>>
A pizzeria. The Howdy Partner is not a gay bar. It’s a Gay Cowboy themed Pizzeria. Just saying.
<<right. just then, as Dasha groans about hearing the millionth Gay Cowboy Pizzeria joke of the day, the bartender named Rasberry (a homosexual rock-a-billy man in his early twenties) waves at Hopskotch and hollers,>>
“Buy ya a beer sailor?”
<<Hopskotch waves back and sheepishly says,>> “Yes please…”
<<you think you see a black man blush before he turns to dig into his backpack for a sketch pad, his well coiffed dreadlocks falling over to hide his face. Dasha finishes playing with her money about that time and Star returns with four Lambs Blood Beers. Star places the beers in front of the drinkers and says,>>
“The bartender, Rasberry, insisted on buying you your first round Hop! Annnnd I bought you this one Love.”
<<Star pushes the beer glass into your worrying hands>>
“Now tell us what’s wrong buddy.”, Dash says.
<<you tell the tale of the heartbroken cook and your pain over the loss of your son, Baby Thor. the others, including Hopskotch who has heard this one before (he is a good friend like that), listen quietly and intently. you actually see a couple tears fall into beers other than your own. Star and Dasha both lean around you in the horse shaped booth and give you a long consolatory hug at the end of your story>>
“Did you call the police?”, asks Star.
“Did you call child services on his ass?”, asks Dasha.
“Yes and yes. There isn’t much they can do about it this soon though. Since Ruben isn’t isn’t a known criminal or abuser and he is Baby Thor’s dad. It’s kind of my word against his right now. Even though he’s not here to share his word. He’s not answering his cell phone and his laboratory says he’s on a business trip. He’s out of my reach and not of interest to the law, yet.”, you say.
“And he comes from money, so he can pretty much get by with whatever.”, Hopskotch adds.
“Yeah, there is that and the fact that I repeatedly called and cussed out everyone in the child services office and at the police station today in a drunken attempt at making them retrieve my son.”, you admit.
<<your two girlfriends nod as they take in the situation. they both thank their demons, goddesses and magick underwear that they are both single and not mothers. the conversation shifts from your crumbly life into the direction of how Star and Dasha’s day went, and then to what is going on that evening. the life of a Howdy Partner Waitress is anything but dull>>
<<a treatise on a Typical Day in the Life of a Howdy Partner Waitress:
“I woke up late after D.J.-ing at the Wrecked Ruin until 3 a.m. I make two hundred dollars a night mixing various genres of dance music, so it’s hard to pass up any gig that I can get there. I try to spin what I like to hear as much as possible, but it rarely flies. The crowd strongly influences my music choices. Like last night, there were three alt-country raver kids who kept paying me twenty dollars a pop to play this Nailer Quick dance remix. It was bloody awful. But twenty bucks is twenty bucks, right? It worked out great because there were these rich frat boys there, who had these rasta-stoner girlfriends, and they kept them coming up to pay me to play some regge. Anyway, I made out like a bandit in tips from all these trust fund kids, and that’s on top of what the Ruin pays me to spin. Spinning records and dancing all night is pretty sweet, but completely exhausting. Sadly, this kept me from getting to the Howdy Partner before opening to help Dasha out.”
“This morning fucking sucked. I was almost late for work because I had to get Father Phil to give me a ride to Oklahellmouth City to bail my stupid drunk boyfriend, HeyRon, out of the Downtown OKHM City Jail. HeyRon got arrested for threatening to cut one of his friend’s little sisters into shark bait with his switchblade. I can’t believe the cops gave him his blade back after we bought him outta jail. After Father Phil dropped HeyRon and I back off at our apartment in Normal Towne; I had to skate from the sixteen blocks over to the Howdy Partner. Only then did I realized that I had forgotten my apron. The Howdy Partner’s asshole owner yells at me for showing up all sweaty (which he always does, and I always tell him to fuck off or to come give me a ride) and then I find out that Star won’t be here in time to help me open the goddamned gay cowboy themed pizzeria! So I get the owner to buy me a round trip taxi ride back home for my apron (the asshole owner’s son drives a taxi), only to find out my drunk ass boyfriend decided to use his newly bought freedom (paid for outta my paycheck, hope the landlord doesn’t want rent this month…) to quit his cooking job at the Taco Hell and spend his morning nursing his hangover with my bottle of fifty year old scotch. HeyRon and I proceed to have a screaming fight about money (which always pisses off the neighbors as we have paper thin walls, f.y.i.). HeyRon ends our fight by throwing my art history book at me and then sitting down on his bean bag chair to pout with his arms crossed over his puffed up chest, like some fuckin’ child throwing a fucking tantrum. Only get this, he’s not a fucking child, he’s a twenty year old scumbag who plays with switchblades and skateboards. HeyRon left both his skateboard and his switchblade lying around while he was drinking all my scotch, and as he sits down on the bean bag chair (after throwing my fucking book at me) he trips on his skateboard lying in front of the chair and falls down, landing on his open switchblade. This dipshit cut himself a new asshole by being an asshole.
So anyway, I hop back in the asshole boss’s asshole son’s taxi and return to the Howdy Partner. Yes with my apron this time, thank you very much. The two cooks (I can’t remember their names) have shown up by this time and are in the back. They are still hungover, so they’re like NO help whatsoever; now I have to put the beer order up all by myself, all the while opening the front of the restaurant. Does that prick owner help open his restaurant? You bet your ass not. Nope he just sits in the back, counting his money from yesterday.
<<must suck to work in the food service industry huh? oh wait, try being the food. Bwaa ha ha ha ha!!!>>
&&&the food friends drinking beer image&&
<<it was decided that in the evening hours, after you and Hopskotch finish the second shift at the Bucket o’ Blood, and after Dasha and Star finish classes at Ticky Tacky University the four of you would meet at the Belly Bar. you intend to drink large quantities of cheap, sorrow drowning oat soda. there is also a musician playing that Star wants you to hear. after your gang makes evening plans, the conversation shifted from witty banter about Hopskotch taking Rasberry as his date to the Belly later. Hopskotch declined. the four of you then took place in a Lambs Blood Beer fueled debate about free will versus determinism. this is a favorite conversation heard on college campuses across East and West ‘Merica”. Hopskotch initiated the discussion after a couple of college kids majoring in religious studies stumbled into the Howdy Partner Pizzeria>>
<<two boyish looking men in their early twenties, clothed in short sleeved white dress shirts, black bow tie, bike helmets and pants, carried their backpacks up to an empty table. the empty table the two religious study majors sat at was a house shoe shaped table next to you and the Friends’ horse shoe shaped booth. they smile at you Finnegan, but seem uneasy as they keeping eyeing your friends…especially Hopskotch Sunday. Star they stare at, you assume, because of her willowy build and tight black clothing. these compliment her pale white skin and cold blue eyes framed by her jet black hair. and of course her well proportioned top and bottom decks. Dasha is equally eye catching, you think, but more well endowed in the bosom and hip department. i should also mention she has a shock of bright yellow hair shaved into a mohawk, with three forks of it on top of her head and large pony tail of it off to one side. long shoulder length lemonade.>>
<<you imagine the sight of these two women bring discomfort to the two religious studies men. it is hard to focus on the teachings of God with the distraction of beautiful women. in comparison you are a vision of plain normality, aside from your streaks of purple hair (the darkness of the bar masks it) and your battered black leather jacket (you have it sitting next to you in the booth) you are nonthreatening to the two men’s sensitivities. Hopskotch on the other hand brings yet more unease in the religious studies majors’ minds. the unease brought about by Hopskotch Sunday, in his experience, was due to the fact that he is a black man in ‘Merica’ and his dreadlocks and outspoken eloquence only made him more suspect. Hopskotch frightened much of white ‘Merica’ just by showing up. one could call it a stereotype, but you and the Friends had witnessed it time and again. repeated traffic stops for obscure or made up offenses, out right refusal to acknowledge his existence at various service oriented establishments. Hopskotch Sunday was, after thirty plus years experience of it, infused by this facet of reality. or so it seems to you. Hopskotch keeps a positive attitude and a good lawyer on speed dial.>>
<<so you think these are the reasons your table of companions evoke rapt attention from the church-ies and their friendliness toward you could be explained away by your plainness in comparison to your eye catching friends. it was not that you felt unattractive in general, but that you did not feel that you attracted much attention. this feeling did not occur to you much when you were making art, or when you were receiving the attention of your (up until recently) devoted husband. well… at least you still have art Finnegan>>
<<do not mention it. Hopskotch noticed the two church mens’ wide eyed gaze of concern directed at you all’s table. then he notices the men sneaking peaks at him in particular. one of the young religious men is fair skinned, muscular and blonde. the other fellow is dark haired, bespectacled, slightly over weight and has a pock marked face. both men are as white as the driven snow, and green behind the ears. i love human descriptions. the two church chums speak to each other in hushed whispered voices and giggle like grade school children. Star and Dasha’s co-worker, Kari, comes over to the men’s table and asks to take their order. Kari is a pretty woman in her late twenties with curly red clouds for hair. she has a slender figure with wide hips accentuated by a closet full of tight fitting jeans. Hopskotch watches the Waitress take them church chums’ order and leave with their menu. when the muscular blonde starts to stare in Hopskotch’s direction again Hopskotch waives and says,>> “Hello there!”
<<your table is quiet except for Hopskotch Sunday>>
“My friends and I were wondering if you fine gentlemen wanted to join in on our conversation on God’s Will versus Free Will?”, says Hopskotch Sunday.
<<the two mens’ heads snap back at eachother almost as quickly as you Star and Dahsa’s does. Hopskotch coughs to cover up his laughter and then grabs his left leg in pain. you have kicked him hard under the table>>
“You’re being obnoxious Hop!”, Dasha whispers.
“Yeah, don’t pick on the church-ies, Hop.”, star says.
“I’m just trying to spread the good word ladies.”, says Hopskotch.
<<the two men approach the horse shaped booth tentatively>>
“Please, pull up some chairs friends.”, you say. <<not knowing what compelled you to speak. it was either me or embarrassed politeness>>
“We don’t normally come to places like this…”, says there obese bespectacled man.
<<the blonde guy, Mr. Charm, elbows his friend and explains,>>
“What he means is, that while our religion does not condone homosexuality…we are called by God to reach out to the sinners and degenerates.”
<<Mr. Charm actually smiles and nods reassuringly as he speaks his insults>>
“That’s right Chad.”, says the obese man.
“Oh we aren’t homosexuals.”, Hopskotch asserts.
“Well don’t speak for everyone Captain Straight Guy.”, says Dasha.
<<Dasha the places her hand on Star’s inner thigh and leans in to kiss her neck. Star squeaks, giggles and squirms in the horse shaped booth. the two men shift awkwardly in the chair they have pulled up to your table. Hopskotch smiles and you neither confirm nor deny your crimes against the status quo. you just hate to make waves, do you not Finnegan? which is odd since you seek to demolish the world’s current social class system. you have always tried to maintain social niceties, which sometimes includes being the referee between friends. you remember either Star or Dasha talking about being transgender one evening after the three of you shared copious amounts of whiskey. but you do not recall the details. so you are pretty certain that there is a throbbing penis over there in the playful groping going on in the horseshoe shaped booth. that definitely would destroy the church chums minds. but it is like your mom always said: it does not matter what is in your pants, as long as you are hot.>>
“Just because we are hanging out at a Gay Bar…”, starts Hopskotch.
“Gay Cowboy themed Pizzeria!”, <<corrects Kari as she brings slices of pizza and soda pop out to Chad and his charming friend, Mickey as his name turns out to be>>
“Sorry, Gay Cowboy themed Pizza joint. My point is, that doesn’t mean that we are all into homosex. And furthermore, what is it about same sex intercourse that makes your god so angry anyway? Did his wife leave him for another woman?”, says Hopskotch Sunday.
<<Chad and Mickey look at eachother and try to open their mouths and form words, but the responses they have been programmed with just aren’t flowing forth.
Dasha jumps in:>>
“If you believe that a god created this world and all the entities in it, then you should respect the natural actions that all the world’s creatures exhibit. All species of animal that have procreated through sex, at some point or time have displayed attraction to and or indulged in sex acts with members of their same sex. It happens. Deal with it. Also there are those of us that exist outside or your strictly Male or Female Animal Planet Mentality. All humans pose a queer and present danger to restrictive reality parameters.”, says Dasha.
<<Chad and Mickey do not choose to disagree with Dasha>>
“Especially when people can’t control how they feel. People are wired a certain way and they can’t just make themselves change. They can’t be something they aren’t just because you read a book saying they should.”, Hopskotch adds.
<<and this is the point where you take flight Finnegan. you excuse yourself and head to the ladies room, ignoring the deer in headlight expressions on the Church Chums’ faces. right now your mind cannot handle the mental gymnastics of a Dasha and Hopskotch Philosophical Debate; and you have been around those two long enough to know when they are abducting someone and taking them to philosophy town against their hypothetical free will. you have seen Hopskotch’s wit turn Notnek’s face purple and Dasha incite Free Dave to rip his shirt off in hulk-like rage. you leave Chad and Mickey to their respective fates.
you decide to take a bathroom Magic-Break>>
&&& POV Finnegan sitting on toilet in bathroom stall pulling a book from a pocket in her battered black leather jacket. the name james joyce is obscured by a satanic drawing&&&
<<you pull an amazingly abused and annotated copy of James Joyce’s “The Dead” out of your dead cow coat and seek out a hand written magic spell>>
James fucking Joyce?! Are you serious? No, that book was given to me by Star’s old lover…err witch lady.. never mind. <<uncomfortable pause>> James Joyce, really?
<<the James Joyce Glee Club will be thrilled by your mortification. You take out the book, place it in your lap and use a tube of cheap lipstick to draw a sigil on the back of the bathroom door. you spit on the palm of your hand and place it on the sigil. you read a passage from the book and the lipstick spit soaked symbol on the back of the door lights up…to reveal a window. you see Baby Thor running down a hallway. Baby Thor runs from Yukio, who is pretending to be a monster, and into the arms of Ruben. the light fades, the window closes. the book falls from your lap, and you head falls forward into the lipstick sigil. as the lipstick and spit smear over the bathroom stall door and your favorite face, you and i time travel into the past>>
I like that we time travel so much.
<<time is only relative among friends. time is only absolute amongst math magicians and charlatans>>
Your philosophy is about as deep as Hopskotch and Dasha’s.