Notes From a Dive Bar XXXII - Art and Alka-Seltzer


Bartenders trade. Booze can be exchanged for virtually anything; love, compliments, tickets to the art exhibit. I find myself in the centipede at the museum, weaving through the works of J.M.W. Turner, an English painter of some repute, dobbing his oil on canvas in the days of cheap gin in 19th century hovels.

The jostling is earnest, those taking photos of Turner's tumbles, a German speaker stands on my foot - Entschuldigung! I speak with my elbows. I knock a few art goers out of the way. I need to see the Turners.

The security people are looking at me. As if they know, he doesn't come here often. I get too close. Step back! says the bouncer for the paintings. But I want to see the Turner melts. He reminds me of Alka-Seltzer - his paintings dissolve beautifully. Like my hangover.

The swish of sky and sea with no horizon, no edge, and the blackness with the light. Turner's world quiet but he knew the storm was coming. Steamboats killing the wind. The crunch of metal smashing the wood. The past is lost. I buy a postcard on the way out.

Back at the bar, at the end of the day, MAC sweeps up the detritus of drinkers, puts down his broom and asks, What did you do at the weekend?
Yes, I say.
And I look at the deep lines on MAC's face, and the horizon appears, getting closer.
I pour us expensive gin.
And we dissolve into the bubbles of the tonic.