Last Friday at the Volcano (part 1)

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I’ve been busy with Joyce and work (we’re short a supervisor at the store since Sasha decided to go to school full time), so I haven’t had too much time to hang out at the bar Keaton works at. I like the place – it’s way better than Rocco’s, the beer is decent, and I know most of the people that work there. The crowd is usually pretty cool too, although, like I told y’all before, things can get a little rowdy on weekends.

I stopped in last Friday. Keaton and Miguel were working the door, and Dani and this super gay dude with fake blond hair were working the bar. (The super gay dude’s name is Ron. Since he goes for black dudes, he doesn’t flirt with me. I know I’m about as white as it gets lol.)

The place was kinda full, so I took my beer and headed out to the back patio. Tatiana from the store was there with her boyfriend. So was Travis from the team with his girlfriend. I talked to each of them, and started feeling a little weird that I was there without my girlfriend. But I don’t reckon that the Volcano is Joyce’s kind of place. Besides, the last thing I needed was to put Joyce and Dani in the same room. I’m sure Joyce was over it, but there was no need to push my luck.

I guess I was thirsty, because, before I knew it, my Red Solo Cup was empty. So back to the bar. Dani got me my next beer.

“Haven’t seen you around lately, Heartthrob.”

Dani is the only person in LA who calls me by my Hickory nickname. I’m not sure what made Keaton tell her about it.

“Been busy. Between work and ballgames…”

“And your girlfriend.”

“Yeah. And Joyce. I don’t have too much extra time.”

“Why not bring her in one night?”

“I was just thinking how much she’d hate it,” I said, laughing. “She’s…”

“Too old? You know we get a little of everything in this place. That’s why I like working here. It’s not all early 20s SGV trash hanging out in the alley smoking.”

There’s a little alley that connects to the patio and around to the front of the bar. Since it’s not officially part of the bar, you’re allowed to smoke there. Otherwise Pasadena has the most stupidass smoking rules I’ve ever heard of. If you can believe it, you’re not even allowed to smoke in your own apartment. Even if it’s a condo and you’re the owner.

But back to Dani being my bartender psychiatrist lol.

“Did you know Joyce got all jealous of you after the cookout?”

Dani laughed. Usually she doesn’t act like a lesbian, but when she thinks something’s really funny she laughs like a man.

“You’re kidding.”

“No. It got pretty serious.”

“Didn’t you tell her I was a dyke?”

“Of course not.”

“What do you mean of course not?”

“It’s not for me to tell something like that. If you want Joyce to know, you have to tell her. Meemaw says everybody’s gonna talk about people behind their backs, but it’s not okay to give away things that are important or secret.”

“Who’s Meemaw?”

“My grandmother. Most southerners say Mamaw, but I got it wrong when I was like 2 and said Meemaw. So she’s been Meemaw ever since. And she’d be mad if she knew I told Joyce you were a lesbian.”

“It’s not exactly a secret.”

“But what about all these guys who hit on you all the time? Wouldn’t you get smaller tips if they knew you were gay?”

“Not all straight guys are as straight as you, Heartthrob. Some of them think the idea of a lesbian is hot. Besides, when there’s a bar between you and the customer, he usually knows he’s got no chance. You tended bar, didn’t you?”

“Yeah. I hated it.”

“Didn’t gay dudes hit on you?”

“All the time.”

“And did they leave big tips?”

“Yeah.”

“And anyone meeting you can tell you’re as straight as an arrow. See? Besides, who walks into a bar and asks the bartender if she likes girls or boys? They just want a drink. And a look.”

Dani bent over on purpose so I could get a good look down her tank top.

“I don’t bother giving you the full show anymore.” She laughed her man laugh. “I’m just sorry I started trouble for you. I like messing with guys, but I don’t want to get them in trouble with their girlfriends. Although straight chicks pretty much all hate me anyway.” She broke off to get the latino dude standing next to me another drink. She told him it was his last one for the night. He didn’t seem to like that.

She came back to me and rolled her eyes.

“SGV trash. You know Miguel got all of us started on saying that. Only a Latino can be as racist about Latinos as him. Anyway, Keaton’s the one who decided the guy has had enough. You know we’ve got a system of signals for that, right?”

I did.

“He sees fuckin everything that happens in here. I get the feeling he’s not just some ordinary dude with a guard card.”

“He isn’t. He’s guarded a lot more than bars. He used to work as a bodyguard for a super rich dude in Europe.” I reckoned that was the kind of thing Meemaw would think it was okay to tell someone. I also reckoned that his experience guarding drug dealers was the kind of thing she wouldn’t think it was okay to tell someone.

“Go Dodgers!,” said someone behind me. I turned around: it was Dave, one of the outfielders from the Parrots.

“Hey, man. How come you’re not at a strip club?”

He laughed.

“What makes you think we’re not headed over later tonight?”

“Y’all probably are.”

“These are my buddies John and Manny,” he said, introducing two dudes standing behind him. John was ridiculously tall while Manny was a hefty little Mexican dude. They looked real silly standing next to each other. But they both had Dodger gear on …so I figured they were cool.

And they were cool. They got their drinks and we went out to the patio to talk. They’d been to the game earlier on (Friday was Game 2 of the NLDS), so we had plenty to talk about. And not just how Corey Seager is better than Manny Machado lol. They didn’t know about my blog, so I got to give them my thoughts about Dave Roberts needing to be more of a hardass and the runners in scoring position problem that I’m afraid is going to keep us from making it to the World Series.

We were going along just fine until we heard something loud going on in the alley. Everyone else went over to look, so we did too.

What was going down was a fight between the latino guy I’d seen at the bar and a super white college boy in USC gear. They had two buddies each behind them, and all six of them had had at least one too many. Although the blond dude had 2 inches and at least 15 pounds on the latino, the latino dude was kicking his ass.

At least until Keaton stopped him.

Him and Miguel went in to break it up. After pushing the four other guys out of the way, Keaton took the Latino dude and Miguel the college boy. Once they had them apart and they stopped struggling, Keaton let go of his dude. Then the dude made the biggest mistake you can make with Keaton Penner.

He took a swing at him.

It’s never hard to block a punch from someone drunk. But that gave Keaton his excuse and he got his full 215 pounds behind the right he landed in the dude’s gut.

You could practically hear the air go out of him as he doubled over and went down.

The other five guys stopped what they were doing to look at Keaton and the dude he’d dropped.  Then one of the other two Latino guys took a run at Keaton. Keaton just grabbed him by the collar, and I could see his right fist was tingling to hit him. Since the bar owners have that rule about not throwing the first punch, he couldn’t…but the dude he was holding didn’t know that. So he was looking mighty scared.

“You take your friends and y’all get the fuck out of here – comprendo?”

The dude said he comprendoed.

That didn’t stop Keaton from giving him a big shove when he let him go. He went down on his ass.

The third latino dude got the his buddies up (the one who’d gotten nailed in the gut still couldn’t stand up straight) and got them the fuck out of there.

That wasn’t the end of the story for the three white guys.

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