By Gretchen Kurtz
By Mark Antonation
By Cafe Society
By Kristin Pazulski
By Chris Utterback
By Cafe Society
By Jamie Swinnerton
By Jamie Swinnerton
Ms. B.J. mumbles an apology to no one in particular because the beer's not chilled enough, but Sean and I don't mind. It's already started to cool off outside, and we're at B.J.'s Port, 2801 Welton Street, to enjoy ourselves, not complain. So we pour the contents of our first two Budweiser bottles over ice and crunch the cubes between sips. Behind us, a dusty big-screen TV from yesteryear plays digital-cable-supplied soul hits and a window air-conditioning unit sits on a table, unplugged. Mismatched glasses, haphazardly stacked on a makeshift shelf behind the bar, call up the image of college-apartment cabinets; an obsolete food counter flanks the entire length of the back wall, shrouded in darkness. We share the royal-blue-carpeted bar only with Posey, who stumbles over just as Sean is getting to the best part of his story about sneaking into this afternoon's Rockies game and finding unclaimed seats next to Mayor Hickenlooper. Posey's outstretched hand and grin full of missing teeth tell me all I need to know. I grab two singles off the bar and slap them in his hand in mock defiance, and he saunters back to his chair, chuckling loudly. Sean continues his story, recounting with elation how, sometime around the sixth inning, he finally got the nerve to ask Hickenlooper the Timequake question. Sean: "Are you a member of the Turtle Club?" Hick: "You bet your sweet ass I am!"
We're laughing pretty hard about this, so we don't notice that Posey is back, this time in front of us, behind the bar. He leans in, still grinning, and asks if we want another. We do, and so does he, so I buy him one and pretend not to notice as he nearly wipes out on his way to the ice tub. We killed the last of the Buds with the previous round, so we choose Coronas with no lime because the only alternative is O'Doul's. Once we all have fresh ice and Posey is settled back in his chair, he tells us for the third or fourth time that he doesn't work here — he just likes to help Ms. B.J. out on account of her being so good to him. That, and some fifty-odd years ago she was his elementary-school teacher. "Ain't that right, Ms. B.J.?" he hollers across the bar. "Yeah, but don't tell nobody," she responds wryly before shuffling out the door to her car.
Over the course of the next two hours, we learn a lot about DeWayne Grober Posey (including his full name, which I've no doubt misspelled) that we won't soon forget, thanks to an amiable tendency to repeat himself: that he's drunk, for starters; that he's fifty-nine and will turn sixty soon, "God willing"; that he graduated from George Washington High in '66; that he's the oldest of 125 grandchildren spanning three generations; that he's a retired cook but still occasionally mans the counter at Zona's down the street; and that he smokes Kools and will gladly bum me one for my last four quarters. This move — offering me a smoke and slyly nabbing my change — is executed with the bravado of a carnie guessing weight, and solidifies in our minds his role as Welton's most charming shyster.
By this time, happy hour is over and Ms. B.J. has returned from the liquor store with a trunk full of twelve packs. We help her carry them in, not just because it seems like the right thing to do, but also because it's obvious that a beer man won't be wheeling cases or kegs in on a dolly anytime soon. It seems odd that she runs the place with store-bought booze, but when I ask her about this, I learn that Ms. B.J. is not much for chatting. Her real name is Betty Jones, she says, and she opened the bar in 2000. Beyond that, her trade secrets remain hers.
Our last two beers slide down our throats straight from the bottle as the Hardest Working Man in Show Business begins howling in low fidelity from the TV. Posey has already shaken our hands twice and said goodbye, but can't quite make it through the door; he half jigs, half jives — two steps forward, two steps back — and then finally disappears down Welton. Before leaving, he promised to remember us the next time we order cheeseburgers at Zona's or crunch ice cubes at B.J.'s, but I'm not so sure.
No matter: I don't think I can afford to hang out with Posey again.