I wrote the following on March 22, 2011 and until very recently I had completely forgotten about jotting down this terribly uncomfortable and disturbing interaction at that terrible Irish bar all the way at the end of South Street. You probably know the one. The following is the text exactly as it was written years ago.
THE ENCOUNTER- a true Philly story
I walked upstairs from the bathroom, schooched my way behind the patrons at the bar and bumped into him. He turned around, "Oh, I'm sorry darlin'. I like your sweater. We're both wearing sweaters". He takes my hand, we shake. He is obviously drunk. Beyond drunk really, a state rather unexpected for a Monday night. I try to continue on my way, he once again reaches to shake my hand (I assume), and an awkward arm sonata occurs. I play flirtation, cold flirtation in order to get back to my seat and my beer. It's often the best option when you're unaware of what manner of inebriated fool you are speaking to. Instead of surrendering to his palm I contract my hand, extend my pointer and thumb in a gun-like form. I click my tongue twice emulating a pistol. A safe way to express: nice meeting you, you're drunk, I'm out of here. Not the wisest decision, but hindsight is 20/20.
"I have one of those", he says as he lifts up his cream colored sweater to reveal a handgun. "I'm a cop". I fell every muscle in my body grow tense. A cop, in a bar, barely able to form coherent sentences, with his gun an arm's length away. Right away I went into some form of crisis mode. I remained a touch coy and engaged, all the while preparing to retreat at any moment. The proper option I thought, especially when I suddenly was hyper-aware of the bullets nestled in their holster just below his right hip. And without even being asked he pulls out his wallet and proudly displays its contents. A license and a badge. Officer C---, drunken fool. "I shot a guy down on 12th. Which way is that?" I point west, eager to end this whole experience. Much to my horror he continues, "It was about 3 years ago. Black guy. He shot at me first, though." How to respond to such a thing? What terrible cop drama am I caught in? I nod my head, acknowledging that he has just told me something that I never wanted to hear, let alone at an open mic night at a neighborhood bar. He echoed my earlier hand motion along with the click, click of the hand-puppet gun. "It was awesome", he brags as he then charades the aim and precision of shooting his actual gun, along with sound effects. "Ba-boom", he croons as he reenacts the kick back of his weapon. There was pride and joy and ego in his voice and eyes. He enjoyed shooting this man all those years ago, enough to immediately find a way to bring it up, and aimed to impress me with his story. This was a man I did not trust. An insincere soul. A very tangible threat. A cop?
"You got a boyfriend?", Officer C--- asks and I head towards my beer, my bag, and the exit. "Yes, I do" I said assertively. He interrogates me with his eyes. "Yes, I really do", finally losing the soft, safe edge of a young romantic. He takes my hand, delicately, and kisses it. I fill with discomfort and disgust. Racist, killer, Officer C--- with the gun on his hip has drunkenly hit on me. Filled me with the feeling of rotten justice, much like putrid vegetables. I may have even told him my first name early in the encounter. Finally, with as much girlish charm as I can stand to fabricate, I excuse myself. "Well, I've got a beer waiting for me". He takes my hand again. "Goodbye, miss". "Goodbye...sir". I swallow the rotten lump of that term of respect. He didn't deserve it, not one bit. I rush back to my stool, my bag, and my beer.
In all this happening lasted only about 5 minutes, but I felt like I had been trapped in a timeless void. It was beyond uncomfortable. I sat down, took a breath, recounted the disturbing tale to my roommate sitting next to me, and upon his urgings wrote it down quickly, which is what you've just read. After I was finished with the last sentence I calmly put away my pen and sipped deliberately at my lager, forcing myself to forget the matter and enjoy the music.