Sitting here on a late Sunday evening, accompanied by a fat glass of wine and my man Jimbo Mathus on the stereo, I'm still not sure about revealing what went down at Bella's. I had planned to keep a vacuum-sealed lid on this particularly silly bar episode — especially since I took a militant stance against such behavior not too long ago. After all, no one enjoys admitting they're a hypocrite.
Perhaps you recall a column that ran a couple months ago titled "Bar etiquette (part one)." In it, I condemn sucking face in public. At the time, I felt I was making a valid point. And I still agree that it's a rule we should attempt to follow, if only to avoid feeling silly when you open your eyes mid-smooch and realize people are staring at you much like they might observe monkeys throwing turds or beating off at the zoo. But, well, yeah, I was that guy the other night. Not masturbating at the zoo, or throwing feces, but making out at the bar.
It all started with Sal. He and I attended a private tasting hosted by a local wine guru. I caught a considerable buzz. Better yet, the grape expert gave us bottles of wine to take home. Sal had a three-quarters-full pinot grigio in his car when he scooped me up at my apartment to attend a CL event at Yeoman's Pub. While bumping along Bayshore in his beater (no AC, of course), I decided to pull a Sideways and slam the pinot like a can of beer. Not exactly sure what prompted this reckless act — perhaps the intolerable heat inside Sal's car, which also has busted windows that barely open — but it seemed like a great idea at the time.
Sal (glaring): Goddamn it, Wade, keep that down.
Me (giggling): My bad. Want some?
Sal (shaking his head): No.
I had killed the bottle and was feeling frisky by the time we parked on Davis Islands. "I'm going to make a spectacle of myself tonight," I told Sal.
"I know," he responded.
CL's Beer Club was meeting at Yeoman's and the pub was packed. The beer tub girls were pouring free samples for everyone. Wearing a shit-eatin' grin, I pulled the old "Hey, I'm Wade Tatangelo and I write Bartab," and asked for a full bottle. They complied all three times. At some point I can't recall, Sal fled the scene and my friend Helen alerted me that our crew of over-indulgers were going to Bella's. I knew I was fading fast and liked the idea of being within walking distance of my apartment.
My memories of Bella's are a bit foggy. I know I took a seat at the bar, next to a friend, we'll call her Elle. I can't recall the setup but do remember that at a certain point a mutual friend, we'll call her Jill, said she'd give Elle and I $20 to make out. I'm not sure what prompted Jill to make such an offer, but she did. Thus double-dog dared, what could I do? Elle looked at me and nodded her head. What the fuck, right? Pressure, folks, pressure. So, there I was, at a packed bar, making out.
A spectacle, for sure. In monster heels, Elle is about a foot taller than me. She came out of the gate full-on, caught me off guard, nearly knocked my drunk ass off the stool. Luckily, I planted my right foot and avoided a tumble. It wasn't my finest kissing performance. I hope I didn't look too foolish in front of the dozen or so patrons (plus staff) who witnessed the incident. But, of course, I did. So perhaps this should serve as a cautionary tale, therefore reinforcing my original position. Or maybe not.
In retrospect, I suppose I deserved this missive from "Ctyboyh," who commented on my "Bar Etiquette" column:
"With all the wallflower pub crawling disinformation you dispense to your audience (myself included) no bigger amount of hypocritical blather was your statement [about] 'Sucking face' as bad etiquette in an establishment that serves liquor (i.e. bar)."
Incidentally, I never did receive the $20. Only repeated ball-busting by those present.
Bella's Italian Café, 1413 S. Howard Ave. # 101, 254-3355.