So I was sitting at the bar of a neighborhood tavern after work, watching The Goonies with the sound off…you know, like you do. I saw an older lady at the poker machines off to the side, but I didn’t think much about it.
After a bit, I sensed a presence behind me, and there was a bit of banter about who’s sitting where. Next thing I knew, the bartender was helping/hoisting someone up onto the bar stool to my left. The first thing I noticed about her was bright red “I Love Lucy” lipstick, accompanied by an even brighter red blouse and black pants. The outfit was completed with a striped white and red neck scarf tied tight, and a shapeless black hat atop curls a shade somewhere between old pennies and Cheetos.
The barkeep put a glass of ice and a fresh can of Ranier in front of my new bar mate. With queenly grace, she poured the beer over the ice.
“Beer with ice?” I wondered out loud.
“That’s how I like it,” she replied, scanning the bar for something that was obviously missing. “Young man, can I have some salt?”
She took the offered shaker and sprinkled salt over the beer in her glass, admiring her work. After she took a healthy sip she turned to me.
“I’m Beverly, and I’m 86 years old. I haven’t been here in many years. The first time I came into this bar, I was 17 and pregnant. They called this place The Punjab back then.”
Well, she might as well have said, “I’m Queen Beverly, and I’ve come down from Mars to visit with the Earth-peasants,” as far as I was concerned. I was awe-struck and the questions poured out.
I learned that the queen lives in the neighborhood and no, she didn’t drink when she was 17 and pregnant. She also explained that the establishment only let her in back then because she was with her husband, “Things were pretty different back then…a woman couldn’t really go to the bar without a man.” I shuddered at the thought!
Beverly and I bonded – we ooh’ed and ahhh’d over the oh-so-young 1985 Josh Brolin as the head-banded Goonie on the screen in front of us. We discussed how the bar had changed in 69 years (‘Not so much, really.’) She told me that her single son lives with her (‘Is he cute?’ Well, I’m his mama…so I think so.’ I quickly changed the subject.) She admired my FitBit and I shared the miracle that is Amazon.com with her (‘And they send it right to you?’) We discussed her love of gambling (‘It’s actually my money, but my son makes me stick to a daily limit…I just put $350 into that machine right there!’)
It was at this juncture that my new idol ordered another beer, adding, “I have to be careful you know…I’m driving!”
I guess my face showed a bit of concern. She gestured grandly over to the wall next to the poker machines. There, at rest in the dark, was her carriage – a red Rascal scooter, plugged into the wall.
I think it was at that point that I realized that I was having a moment from a different movie from 1985. The Goonies had ended on the TV, but in real life it was suddenly Back to the Future, and I was young Biff meeting old Biff!
I would have loved to stay later and learn more from future me (‘Will I ever really get to stop working? Is there another future ex-husband out there? When do the wrinkles kick in???), but it was a weeknight, so I had to head home. I heard stories later about how her highness had yet another beer, how she playfully squeezed the bartender’s arm as he walked her to her chariot, and how she eventually drove off down the sidewalk with no lights on. I like to think her curls were just a little wild in the breeze.
I don’t think Rascal makes a two-seater, but I’ll see you again, Ms. Beverly.