The rise and fall of Jeffery Simpson and his tales of bars

* The assistant manager at the Paramount theatre would read the Phoenix and once I stopped writing about either my love life or the local bar scene, he started telling me that I wasn't funny anymore. I actually had never been really funny, it's just that like the rest of the world he enjoyed laughing at my misfortune. Stories about math rock stars who reached the end of Pi and then flew to the moon just didn't cut it. So I responded by returning to the subject that had launched my so-called career.

The song quotes are from the Matthew Good Band song "Rico" which was in-style at the time.

So my assistant manager, who is an avid reader of the Soapbox, tells me that I haven't been as funny lately.

"Jeff, people want stories about bars. More stories about bars is what you need to write. Everyone likes those, this stuff about jobs or careers or what ever this last one was about, forget it. Bars are where the laughs are," he said to me during one shift.

So I considered it. More stories about bars. I suppose, and not just because I want more hours at work, or that promotion. However I suppose I can not just jump into a bar story, there has to be a context. Something to justify the local of a local tavern.

Let us then start with an observation. Having an ex-girlfriend, or in my case a girl who turned me down on numerous occasions, trying to be your friend is a lot like when in grade school you'd bring home a bad test and your parents would get angry and tack it on the fridge for some sort of motivation. That way every time you went for a glass of milk you'd be faced with your lack of knowledge of the cultural customs of modern day Japan. With my luck all three girls I've ever asked out, all three said no, attend the same OUC campus as I do. So it isn't just one bad test, it's a whole report card tacked up there with comments written in red like, "Needs some improvement."

The problem is after awhile you get thirsty and you have to give up avoiding the fridge, once again returning to your shortcomings. After awhile it gets a bit depressing. The point where you find yourself in your car one night singing along to U2's "So Cruel" and finding parallels to your own life is when you're in trouble.

That's when you have to put the past behind you and look to the future. I've always been told that there is plenty of fish in the sea, and although I do not fancy a long-term relationship with a trout, at this point I may try anything.

So I telephone my friend Anonymous up and said, "Where are these fish?"

"What fish?"

"The fish you keep telling me about, the ones in the sea."

"What the hell are you talking about?"

After we got the whole matter straightened out we headed out for yet another night in Kelowna's bar scene. This was my chance to put the past behind me, find love and live happily ever after. So with a combination of Semisonic's "Closing Time" and Matthew Good's "Rico" playing in my head I threw on my best-stripped shirt, threw on my black leather jacket and headed downtown.

"Buy the rights to endless love. If your friends don't like it you can tell them from me, 'Well fuck off! Fuck off! Fuck off!'"

Our first stop, as always on these sort of trips was Captain O'Ryan's. The fake Irish Pub motif was all I needed to get in the swing of things.

"Now remember Jeff bar talk is different than real conversations. You can't be witty and sarcastic. You just sort of yell and talk about how much you like the DJ. Okay and don't mention you write that column of yours, it might scare the girl off." my friend said to me, smiling.

I took it as sound advice, of course this was from the fellow who informed me that running yellow and red lights increases the amount of passionate sex I will receive in my life time.

We hit the bar, my friends quickly ordered a picture of some sort of beer and I got a Coke. Now for those of you who have ever ordered a Coke at a bar I ask you, why do they put those stupid straws in it? I know most people can visually differentiate Coke and beer, but why do they have to put a flag (straw) that says, "Hello I'm not drinking because please come and mock me." Of course I'm self-conscious enough without having a loser symbol in my drink; so I do what another non-drinker would do in that situation, I lose the straw.

"Oh yeah it's umm ale, from umm Germany, or not Germany but around there a smaller country, it looks like Coke but boy it's strong. Yeah I think umm... I don't know what it's called. They just give it to me."

So there we are, my friends and I and a whole load of the International Relations Course Union standing by the band (two guitarists and a drum machine) sipping our drinks watching a bunch of girls dancing on the bar.

"They mgngmg mgwoudhsoldkd don't they?" asked a cute girl beside me. I recognised her from somewhere but I didn't know where. Nor had I any clue what she had just told me. Yet remembering my lessons in bar-speak I nodded in agreement. I just hope she didn't say something like, "They're having fun dancing, do you want to join the neo-Nazi movement?"

She then said something else I didn't catch which, since she was cute, I agreed with as though I had been thinking the same thought the whole day. (For all I know a group of skinheads are expecting me to lead a march at this moment).

"Having fun?" I asked.

"Do you have your notepad?" she asked.

I wasn't quite sure how she knew that I carried a notepad in my pocket, being the hard working journalist that I am, but I nodded, pointing to my pocket. Yet before I could figure out why she wanted to know, or even how she did know, a much larger male type person came and put his arm around her, leading her away. Pondering that I turned to find my friends polishing off their drinks with the I.R. Course Union. (The I.R. Course Union is a Soapbox all to itself).

"We're off." my friend said. I gulped down the rest of my Coke, and followed him out the door. I was upset I still hadn't found anyone to be my girlfriend but I figured that my chances would be greatly increased at a dance club.

Yet to get into a dance club one has to wait in line. That includes powerful journalists like myself, especially since I accused a bouncer at Splat's of fondling 14 year old girls and then being bribed with weed. Yet still I tried.

"I'm a Doctor of Journalism and I demand to be let in." I said to the bouncer at the Vibrator.

"Really what's your name?"

"Raoul Duke, and I demand to be let in now."

Of course one does not make demands with those sorts of people. I ended up lucky though, as we stood at the back of the line a fellow tried to push into the club. I recognized him from my high school; he had graded a few years ahead of me. I was about to point him out when he was administered a severe beating by a few bouncers until he staggered off blood dripping from his head. I suppose at that point the proper thing to do would be to offer to help him find medical attention but God damn-it I had spent 20 minutes in line by that point, I wasn't going to give my place up.

Finally we got inside the club; luckily the bouncer had never read the Phoenix and didn't recognise my name as the fellow who writes the articles making fun of bouncers.

Inside the Vibrator is a lot like my old high school. A) The music sucks B) there are way too many cowboys C) there are way too many white people who think they're up for guest star spots in the next Puff Daddy video epic and D) the music sucks.

Since we were a group of guys with no girls, but we didn't just want to sulk in the corner we hit the dance floor, dancing with ourselves. The theory being that girls would see us, secure in our masculinity being able to dance with other guys and not worry about looking gay, and come over and join us. We probably should have worried a little more about not appearing gay because after one song of the group of use guys dancing together, we had to abandon the club. If we hadn't left then it was quite possible that we would have had our heads kicked in by either the patrons (either the cowboys or white rappers), the bouncers or the DJ. Whichever way you slice it the vibe in the vibrator just wasn't our thing.

So off into the night we went. We returned home. Once again I had failed in my task and on the way back I began singing along to U2's "So Cruel" once again. Now as I type this up I am torn between calling up the girl who turned me down over three times or phoning up my grade six teacher and demanding she let me retake my Japanese modern culture test. At least that way I can get it off the fridge.