By Todd Mercer
Walking town on business I saw a gigantic grammar failure, shining in neon. I went inside the crapola bar beneath the sign, to make suggestions.
Disorienting place, deprivation tank dark. It smelled of cleaning chemicals and warm beef. A soupçon of a bygone Fern Bar incarnation lingered in an otherwise Bad Lager / Rotgut Day-Drinking motif. A tasteful print of cocktail glasses hung between bathrooms, above the sole potted fern, yellowing.
A man impervious enough to outside opinion to sport a theatrical-scale handlebar mustache threw a cocktail napkin on the bar-top.
“What’s your poison?”
“Not thirsty, bub.” I wasn’t curious about non-craft beers. I smiled. Everybody loves my smile. ”I’m hoping you’ll introduce me to Apostrophe’ himself.”
Handlebar stared me down, long silent. Like I’m the moron. A guy with a BA from the University of Phoenix (Online). In Literature. I can write my own ticket. Or will soon.
“Are you Apostrophe’, sir?”
“Nobody here by that name, punk.”
“Oh, okay. I figured—“
“You figured wrong.” He tensed; I overlooked it.
“So is this where Apostrophe’s’ decompress after a tough day of improper usage? Is there a Quotation’s’ nearby? An Interrobang’s’?”
“Just remembered: my establishment doesn’t serve smart-asses.”
“Look, I absorbed the Chicago Manual of Style. Chapter and verse. I’m trying to help you stop embarrassing yourself.”
He vaulted the bar with a coordinated flurry of gut punches and kidney-kicks. Zero witnesses, of course. I was on the curb like last night’s GladTM bag of SoloTM cups by the time I was again current with current events.
“Punctuate that!” Handlebar spat on me, then slammed Apostrophe’s’ door.
My breathing resumed. The bleeding clotted. I hurried downtown to my (just-for-now) situation, busing tables at a trendy eatery.
It’s called Condiment’s’.
Great food really. But that name! Crazy-making. I keep almost saying something about it. No bueño, no bueño.