It was a strange place for a six year old to spend weekends, but it somehow worked for us. My father had to be in the bar no later than 10 am to do the cleaning before we opened the bar, and I’d help him with his tasks. My first job was always to wash ash trays…literally dozens of them, filled with butts from cigarettes and cigars. I still can’t smell cigarette ashes without being transported back in time, to being my father’s little helper in the Somewhere Else Bar.
My second task was helping to mop. I lost fascination with men’s restrooms quickly in those first few months — I learned that drunk men couldn’t pee straight and that restrooms were never clean places in bars. I still “hold it” if I can, rather than going to a bar bathroom. Too many bad memories of boozy bathrooms of questionable cleanliness, even after working on them for what felt like hours.
But after the cleanup was the fun stuff…My dad would treat me to Beer Nuts and Coke. We’d crank up the music and the MTV video screen and I’d dance around like an inspired maniac to songs like “Borderline” (Madonna) and “Beat It” (Michael Jackson). I’d serenade my father and make up my own routines…until the first patrons came in, and I’d need to find a way to more quietly entertain myself as he bartended.