My Way Lounge


                                                                                                                       August 13, 1982


The My Way Lounge in Passaic has haunted me since the early 1970s, when Hank used to drag me there for a drink and a peek at the go go girls, part of our perpetual hunt for beaver. It always amazes me how Hank managed to drag us into places like this, where we could not possibly ever pick up a girl. Even when we managed to get girls in our car, Hank found a way of getting rid of them, like the time we drove two girls home to Knickerbocker Avenue in Paterson and they asked us up for a drink. Unthinking or unconscious Hank said he and I had to go, then drove off, leaving the slightly confused girls staring after us from the curb, me screaming at him to stop, he scratching his head wondering what had gotten me so upset.

 My Way had the same connotation, an environment so polluted with loneliness that even if we had been first in line for the attention of the dancers, we'd not have scored, not without a bundle of cash, and the chance we might have developed a serious social disease from the contact. Most of the time, the experience here followed the same ritual, old men seated around a oval bar staring up at girls with big tits and fat asses, wiggling a for tips.

 I guess we thought ourselves above all that, and spent a good deal of our time, sipping more beer than healthy, giggling at everything, girls, bar tenders, patrons and ourselves. Yet even in the middle of this humor, I felt vulnerable, as if a dark cloud hung over our heads. Years later, I returned here without Hank, using the place as a kind of source for stories, each man and woman loaded down with tales of how they came to be here.

 I found no stories. People here don't want their presence advertised, or lives rehashed, and the bar owner, bar tenders and go go girls, look on me with more hostility than when I came here with Hank. In those days, we only laughed at them, now it seems they think I've come to judge them, too, writing out their doom in scribbled script. The go go girls are particularly threatened, because I keep my nose pressed to this notepad rather than aimed at them. They can't control people who don't desire them. I've stripped away the folly of my youth to some degree. Now, I don't even pretend to want to pick them up, and they think me a vulture for it, picking at their bones instead. Now, no one laughs, not even me.

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