Confederacy of Dunce
Remember Saturday night? Right after dusk when the temperature was only, like, 91 degrees? I was sweating it out behind the patio bar at Lola’s, waiting for The Good Show’s monthly concert to start. It was early, and most people were inside with the A/C, so I didn’t have a whole lot to do besides contemplate a nip or two of Jim Beam and rearrange the bar mats. My thoughts were drifting into estimations and scenarios of how the night’s customers might affect my monthly budget, when I heard the sound of boisterous haggling by the front door.
I looked up and saw a middle-aged man in a red polo and black-framed glasses arguing about cover charge; soon he was headed my way, accompanied by a woman and her friend. As he got closer, I realized he had a blue-and-red scarf wrapped around his neck. Wearing a scarf in 91-degree heat struck me as a weird thing to do, but after about 10 minutes of talking to this guy, it made perfect sense: This dude was the single most interesting customer I’ve ever dealt with.
I looked at his getup. His polo was embroidered with the Ferrari logo, and his scarf appeared to support some soccer team — it was stitched with an FC — but being the American philistine that I am (or was later made to feel like), I didn’t know which team. His haircut and glasses made him look like a slightly younger Charles Nelson Reilly, only with Reilly’s fussy noises replaced by a surreal air of continental condescension. I looked at the scarf again, and it hit me. I was in the presence of a real-life Ignatius J. Reilly.
If you’re unfamiliar, Ignatius is the protagonist in A Confederacy of Dunces, the late John Kennedy Toole’s novel about an overweight, over-educated layabout who wanders around early-’60s New Orleans tormenting everyone he meets with supercilious tirades and demands while wearing a scarf. This guy tossed his (scarf, that is) over his shoulder and ordered a Stone IPA. “We have Ranger IPA,” I said, “and if you’d rather …”
“Well, what beers do you have?” he said before leaning over to his friend and muttering, “I don’t come to Fort Worth often –– for various reasons.” And on he went, peppering his convo with none-too-subtle digs at Fort Worth. And also Sacramento, Lola’s, me, New Belgium Brewing Company, Real Ale, Rahr, and anything else someone from Texas would think is cool. He kept telling me he lived in Monaco and France (pronounced to rhyme with “ponce”), and he mocked my ignorance about some British drummer no one’s ever heard of. “You know how many musicians I knew in the ’60s and ’70s?” he asked. “I’ve been around a long time, and I’ve pretty much done it all.” He beamed at me. “Guess where I was born. Just guess.” “Mesopotamia,” I said. But I was wrong about that too, because it turned out to be … London? Or New York. Or maybe Jupiter. I never could tell, because his assertions just got louder and more arrogant. When he told me I didn’t know shit (specifically about Black Sabbath) “because Tony Iommi died six months ago,” I’d had enough. If Tony Iommi died, I’m 100 percent sure I would’ve heard about it. (Of course, he’s still very much alive.) Ignatius called me an idiot and told his friends they were leaving. I don’t know where they went, but if it was to some real-world analog to the strip club in Dunces, I wouldn’t have been surprised. –– Steve Steward
Finally, the Finals
If you’re in the Mid-Cities (or even if you’re not), BoomerJack’s in Bedford is carting a 16-foot TV screen out to the parking lot and throwing a watching party for every game of the NBA finals. Of course, that also means drink specials: $2 you call-its (Crown and down) and 49-cent wings. Whether or not you think the Mavs can take the Heat, show up and stuff yourself full of hot wings — just don’t choke. Unless your name is LeBron James. –– S.S.
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