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Bar Rules: More not so strange tales of the city

Drinking in the city has rules. Good or bad, they exist.

Rule #1: Beware of an open bar

My two roommates and I loaded onto the subway and hit Manhattan hard and the open bar at our friend's party even harder. Roommate one dropped in the toilet at the party, got on a bus, and woke up on the street at a bus stop. Luckily, nobody had bothered him. Roommate two and I piled into a cab, where I managed to hold my sick till we reached my block. I then let it fly right out the back window of the cab. Roommate two made it inside, then he hugged the bowl.

When we woke up the next morning, all was safe. Except, I had lost my wallet. I had left it in the cab with a hundred dollars in cash. Everyone assured me that I'd never see that again. More importantly, all of my I.D. was in it and in NYC, that can be a serious pain to get reissued. Then, a letter from the police; they had my wallet. When I arrived at the station, they wrote me a check for the hundred dollars. The cab driver had turned it in and didn't touch a bill!!

Rule #2 The third drink is always free. Everyone in the city is trying to make it. Your bartender needs money for his rent the way you need a drink to cope with all the crazy stuff you gotta do to pay yours. Tip him/her well and not only will you get good pours, but great service, and maybe a friend.

Rule #3 Every bar has a squatter; someone who in no uncertain terms lives at that bar. Meet my friend Jim. He was the best I've ever seen and ever will see at making a bar HIS. Kodama on west 45th was his haunt and he was there from five on, everyday. He ran long tabs, could order with a hand gesture, and kept the whole spot entertained. He was a master. The restaurant loved him so much, they threw the wildest birthday parties you could imagine, each year, for their celebrity customer.

And Jim knew everybody. Broadway musicians, Jazz musicians, and classical musicians. One day, he announced he was taking me to Lincoln Center for my birthday because I had never been and that to him just wasn't right. The next day, I came in and told him I got a job as an artist assistant, there. He thought that was the funniest thing ever. Jim had a way of opening doors, even when he didn't mean to.

Jim helped me when I was down, took me and my friends out on the town when I was up, and did what the best of friends do: he was always there. He was at my wedding and I was there in his hospital room just days before he passed. Though he could hardly speak, he was hip, funny, and positive. "It ain't no thang," he used to say. The last time I saw him, he grinned and said, "Alabama."

Jim taught me the most important thing I could ever learn about people: never judge who they are by where they are or what they wear. Like Forrest's mother aptly said, "life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get."

We love you, Jim White!!


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