Last night The Roller and I went looking for Waikiki Wally's down on Second Street, the Lua Restaurant and Tiki Bar with the secret passage into Lucky Cheng's, where you could take the ladies for a little nightcap before the big nightcap. Back in the old days when surfers surfed Real Waves and hula girls whirled their hula hoops for the departing troops. The Age of Blended Drinks and noisy barfing into kitchen sinks. Hey sugaree, shake your Brandy Alexander for me.
And we found it. But that's not entirely right -- we found the address, on Second Street, just off First Avenue, two Old Farts running on fumes. At that point. Outside sat a lady -- smoking a cigarette, of course -- a Real Lady in a tailored white shirt and fancy-ass jeans and loose blonde bangs. And skin, what d'ya call it?, ashen. Yes, like ash.
"Whatcha lookin for?"
The Roller asked, "Hey wasn't there a place here called Waikiki Wally's?"
I remembered Marianne Faithfull singing "Guilt" in St. Ann's ages ago. Her doppelgänger -- if I may use an umlaut -- answered, "Closed. But this place is nice, they've got good food."
The hand-lettered sign on the glass read, "El Cheapo." Hey, El Cheapo! Sounds cheery. But we were leery.
"What about Scotch?" The Roller asked. Scotch is one way of putting an evening to bed, you see, especially for Short Memory boys, like him and me. Single malt preferably.
"I think so," she said. "They've got a full bar." She picked a little piece of something off her lip and let her loose head bobble for just a little bit, then stretched herself up and went off walking. Just like that.
How could we resist taking a look? We went in and sniffed around El Cheapo-like and asked the barmaid about her scotch. Not much. This was a tequila and bourbon kinda joint. So we ordered Patrón Silver straight and gabbed some more about the past. The barmaid, a friendly gal, let's call her Zelda Zaftig, brought over a couple of menus, but we'd already had our grub, so we protested and told her we'd just take a look. The menu said "Marfa." Which was the real name of the joint, not El Cheapo, though that special was on the menu, along with Chicken Fried Steak. Hey ZZ, this is New York.
Marfa, Texas, with its ghostly light in the middle of nowhere. A nice place to hang your minimalist hat for a day or two. Hey pard, let's go birding in Big Bend, tra-la-la. ZZ had never been there, though she'd heard about it. "Some kind of artist's colony, right? I heard you gotta take a plane then a bus."
We looked around. Seven people in the joint including us and her. She saw our eyes taking in the room. "We've been open three months. We're doin okay. It was crowded earlier."
The Roller finished his tequila and looked at her square. "You still got that passageway to Lucky Cheng's?"
ZZ gave a big smile and leaned right back into The Roller's gaze. "Sure do, mister."