This could very well have been a story of anger and aggravation, a story about waiting fifty fucking minutes for a cab to arrive at my apartment in Five Points, a story about years of frustrated anticipation and irritation, a story that was really little more than a diatribe about how Denver's nightlife will never be worth a damn without efficient cab service, or about how the city's various transportation systems will surely implode come the Democratic National Convention. But the mere thought of telling that story in any detail raises my already skyrocketing blood pressure — and besides, I'd just be preaching to the choir. The taxi situation in this city sucks; everyone knows it.
Instead, I offer a story of redemption, a story about cheap shots and discovering Denver's latest last call on a night nearly ruined by responsibility.
This story begins at 11:30 p.m. on a recent Saturday night, when Mags and I finally arrive at the Satire Lounge (1920 East Colfax Avenue) to find our First Friends waiting. We call Dominic and Nicole our First Friends because they really were the first people we met upon moving here in 2005. On a late summer night at the now-defunct Rock Island, cigarettes were bummed and pleasantries exchanged, a lack of knowing anyone was explained, drunkenness ensued, and at the end of the night, Dominic very sweetly said, "Well, we'll be your friends if you guys want." A year later and after much hanging out, we took a keg of Blue Moon as our gift to their DIY wedding.
It's been more than two months since we last saw our First Friends, so we trade hugs before doing anything else. Then we order drinks. Considering the time (and how little of it is left for drinking in public), I suggest shots. Dom and Nicole already have some they need to finish, or so they say. "I don't see any shots," I tell them. And I don't: On the bar next to their beers are two five-ounce glasses filled to the brim with liquor on the rocks, two empty shot glasses and a can of Red Bull. "Those," I signal with my head, "are your shots?" Dom shrugs and explains that they asked for shots of vodka and Red Bull and Tuaca and Red Bull, respectively, and this is what they got.
"The bartendress said she had to sell us the whole can of Red Bull," he says, still confused. "I don't know why."
I quickly count ounces and prices on my fingers. "That's like eight shots for ten bucks," I announce, overly pleased with my arithmetic skills.
"Yeah, but we can't seem to pour without spilling, and our mixtures taste like shit."
We vow to get to the bottom of the bar's Red Bull policy — but never do — and Dom and Nicole struggle awkwardly through a few more face-contorting concoctions before abandoning the world's cheapest shots altogether.
As the night spirals toward sozzled senselessness, we analyze some of the Satire's other quirks: the twenty or so Christmas stockings representing employees past and present still hanging above the mirror behind the bar; the men's bathroom that provides a clear shot of whoever's using the urinal every time the lockless door is opened; the faded and quaintly outdated Colorado sports pennants hanging from the ceiling. Toward the end of our stay, we make friends with two guys sitting next to us, who point our attention to the black-and-white analog clock on the back wall above the bathrooms. "Real time, bro," one of them mumbles. I look around for another clock but can't find one. "I wouldn't shit you," he assures me. "It's the only bar I've ever been in that runs on real time, and I've been in a lot of bars." For a full minute, maybe more, I am the definition of disbelief. It can't be. With one eye pinched shut, I study the ticking clock: 1:30 a.m. "So you're telling me that if I look at my cell phone right now, it's going to say 1:30 a.m.?," I ask the bartendress, dumbfounded, "and that you open and close the bar by that clock?" She nods and smiles. I shake my head in awe and finish my beer. "Incredible."
Even more incredible is the noncommittal and barely audible 1:50 a.m. last call, the 1:55 a.m. Barrel of Monkeys shot the bartendress suggests and serves, the 1:59 a.m. exit from the bar. As we stumble out the front door and into the cold Colfax air, I turn around for one last look at the clock. Tick, tick, 2 a.m.
Redemption is mine.
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