Food & Drink : The bar tab

Holden’s 101: by the book

It was that kind of a crazy afternoon, terrifically cold, and no sun out or anything, and you felt like you were disappearing every time you crossed a road.*

Actually, it was hot, too hot already for the season, but the intersection of Pereida and St. Mary’s was completely abandoned at 8 o’ clock on a Thursday evening, and it did seem as if the traffic signals, swinging lightly in the breeze, were blinking red for nobody.

As we crossed, our drinking companion was waiting on the corner, looking extremely happy to see us.

If a girl looks swell when she meets you, who gives a damn if she’s late? Nobody.

It wasn’t our sartorial splendor that put a smile on the DCs’ face, but sweet relief: We were a tiny bit late and Holden’s 101 Beer, Wine, Art was nearly as empty as the street; perhaps she thought our plans had gone awry. Inside, a few people sat at the bar, some of them with their backs to the bartender, not so much to ignore her as the flat screen TV hanging over her head, broadcasting the Detroit-Miami game. A couple guys were playing pool, and a man with a curiously long goatee was drawing cartoon sketches of anyone who would pay.

The bar was out of Coke, the friendly staff informed us, but we had our choice of 16 domestic and imported beers, and more than 20 wines by the glass (red, white, and sparkly). Holden’s is pleasantly lit — each of the front window’s 12 panes, framed by wood, contained a candle — and spacious, but none of us was in a mood for smoke, so we retired to the patio seating out front.

People never notice anything.

Outside, the breeze had picked up. A Taxi cab blasting Jim Croce’s “I Got a Name” stopped by, waking three house sparrows nesting on the narrow ledge above. The babes squawked hungrily, calling out to ma for some regurgitated worms — which she kindly delivered, while pa kept one eye on the drunkards below.

On my way to the bar for round two, I noticed “Koo Kooie,” a series of four oil-on-canvas portraits of a very sweet little chi hua hua-dragon in a knit cap playing an accordion, painted in various styles by the brothers Limon (Michael, Stephen, Jason, and Nathan). According to Holden’s co-owner, Kevin De La Garza, the bar hangs a new show each month, with openings on First Friday.

When I really worry about something, I don’t just fool around. I even have to go to the bathroom when I worry about something. Only, I don’t go. I’m too worried to go. I don’t want to interrupt my worrying to go.

Bar bathrooms, a category defined by the overwhelming stench of urine, clogged toilets, and a lack of TP, are something to be avoided at all costs. Not so Holden’s, where the WCs are spacious, well-lit, clean, and locking. The only creepy thing: a mirror directly across from the toilet.

There isn’t any night club in the world you can sit in for a long time unless you can at least buy some liquor and get drunk. Or unless you’re with some girl that really knocks you out.

Actually, we only drank a few beers, so no one was drunk — or on the make, for that matter — but we managed to while away a fair bit of time, chatting like mad until the wee hours (well, wee for a schoolnight).

Goddam money. It always ends up making you blue as hell.

And here’s the deal, for the five beers, the bill came to just $12.50. Of course, the wine runs a little pricier at $6.50-9.75. Were we blue? Not a bit, although we do think they should offer some goddamn bar snacks, as Holden would say.


* From Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger.

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