Juke of Pork

Our blast lashed lush finds solace among the crazed.

By Brian McManus
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Sep. 27, 2006

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Booze hound: The author's dog puckers up after six pints of Yuengling.

I have a psychologist friend who spends his workday teleconferencing with schizophrenics. During a series of interview questions he eventually gets to a few designed to help him map a patient's thought process. For instance, if "How are a nickel and a dime similar?" meets with "Well, one is bigger than the other and a dime has ridges and a nickel doesn't," Psychologist Friend will notify the patient that, no, that's how the two are different. He'll note their answer and give them another shot.

A lion and an elephant, you should know, are both animals. Sure one might bite and the other is afraid of mice, but the real connection they share is that both were invited onto the ark. Similarly, a bus and a train are what? That's right--means of transportation. True, one is much longer than the other, but we're looking for the most basic way the two are alike. Be careful. Your answer may show trained persons that normal connections and thought processes are currently escaping you. Adjust medication.

After explosions in Center City force me into the bars early, I find myself in the West Philly kinda-dive, kinda-Irish-themed Kelliann's at 44th and Spruce. It's been a solid eight-hour drink day. Normal connections and thought processes are currently escaping me. I've drunk myself past the point of respectability and into a voluntary alcohol-induced schizophrenia.

I'm joined by an eclectic mix of West Philly crusties, Kelliann's regulars, Penn students and what appears to be a group of European backpackers.

Kelliann's bartenders are a diverse duo. There's a none-too-talky guy, who's very fast when he's paying attention, and Jacqueline the daytime bartender, who's decided to hang around after work. She seems to be suffering the same symptoms as me.

She carries an empty pitcher around, shoves it in the faces of patrons and shouts, "Jukebox donations!" This isn't an option.

"Do I get any say in what you pick?" asks a tattooed and goateed young man.

"Fuck no!" she replies.

Tattooed guy seems fine with this.

Before too long she's at the digital juke making selections. A few contributors have joined her, and they're furiously debating the merits of Meat Loaf, Jane's Addiction and New Edition.

"Mr. Telephone Man" begins to blare. Jacqueline wants someone to dance on the bar with her. Any takers will be poured a free shot of their choice.

A hirsute man in his early 30s (I'm guessing here--about the age, not the beard) asks me what I think of Jacqueline. "She seems spirited," I offer, hoping the answer doesn't suggest I'm currently way off the map.

Beard agrees and spends the next hour trying to convince me Jacqueline used to be fat. He doesn't know her. It's just a theory he has. Her shirt is short. When she reaches for anything her belly shows. He implores me to look at it. "It's softer than it should be," he's convinced.

Whether Jacqueline is a former porker is up for debate. She's a happy drunk and a kind girl. That is, until Christopher Cross is punched up in the middle of her dance mix.

"Oh fuck no! Turn this off right fucking now!" She lunges for a remote behind the bar, exposing her possibly-too-soft stomach, and forwards to the next selection, visibly disturbed. Whatever happened to this girl between the moon and New York City wasn't the least bit pleasant.

I begin to listen to the voices in my head. One of them tells me to go home. I oblige.

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