Wednesday, August 23, 2006

“An alcoholic is someone you don’t like who drinks as much as you do.” – Dylan Thomas

I like bars. Bars like me. We have either a symbiotic or a co-dependent relationship, depending on who you ask. After I’ve sat at home every night for three weeks with no human contact whatsoever, I like to go out and sit in a bar by myself and have a beer when I can. So sue me.

The other night a friend loaned me US$20 for gas, which I desperately needed. I put $5 of gas in my car, bought a pack of cigarettes and a (used to be) pound of store coffee, and had enough money left over for a beer. This is the kind of careful planning that eventually becomes second nature for a very poor person, by the way. So I went to a local watering hole. While I was there, looking at real living human beings with sort of a stunned expression on my face, I was thinking about why I enjoy going out to a bar (besides the beer[1]). I came up with two answers: people watching. This really is two answers, because the two kinds of people I like to watch are beautiful women of all sorts and butfors[2]. Beautiful women should be self-explanatory. Butfors are people about whom I say, “There, but for the grace of God, goes Hulles.[3] As an example, on the night in question I saw a large middle-aged man with a hideous comb-over, which consisted of two strands of hair about as big around as your pinkie finger plastered forlornly to his otherwise naked scalp. The scene screamed pathos. In other words, the guy was a classic butfor. Now, I say this with more humility and less derision than it might seem. This really could be me in a week, or a month, or a year. I myself am middle-aged and balding. I, however, currently keep my hair short in what used to be called a “butch” before Lesbians stole the name. And I’m not “large” – I’ve been starving, remember?

I even suspect that I may be someone else’s butfor. “Damn!” thinks the person, “Look at that guy! There, but for the grace of God, goes me!” Note that the bastard who just thought that got the quotation wrong. I’m going to explain it to him, right before I punch his lights out. Call me a butfor, will he? We’ll see about that.

- Hulles

[1] Stella Artois, if you’re curious. 5 Hulles Luxuriance Stars for Stella Artois.

[2] No, the joke isn’t “What’s a butfor?” You have to wait for a couple of sentences.

[3] The original quote is by John Bradford, a Brit who said “There, but for the grace of God, goes John Bradford.” He uttered this upon seeing some criminals shuffling off to their execution. It was said of Orson Welles, “There, but for the grace of God, goes God.”

1 comment:

Cristina Cordova said...

I don't think you can qualify for anyone's butfor until after at least your fifth drink, so... poverty has its advantages.