Home at the Bistro
There’s enough cockroach traffic inside Pablo’s Bistro to warrant stop signs, speed bumps and crossing guards. There’s paint flaking like dandruff off grease-blackened walls, windows rattling like cheap dentures, and water dripping from an overhead pipe, slow and stubborn as snot from the sinuses of Karl Malden. The burgers are sometimes edible, drinks always cheap, the clientele, colorful and odiferous.
Still, there’s no mention of Pablo’s in the Visitor Bureau’s list of Places to Visit in Platinum, Georgia.
“21st-century American detritus,” explains my man William Fitzhugh III. “It’s not for everyone.”
Pablo’s is home away from home for local boozehounds, crackheads and bullshitters: unlicensed physicians, defrocked priests, disbarred lawyers and the like. It’s where the homeless, disgraced and delusional, convene to swill whiskey and swap tales. This is where I spend my days now, the place I gravitated to when my career at the library got jerked out from under me. Sooner or later – one way or another – gravity is going to grab you, too. In this age of economic uncertainty, gravity is one thing you can count on.
Two months ago, shortly before the stock market, as the Bistro’s leading economists say, “bit the schlong,” I was a run-of-the mill librarian: long sleeves, button down shirt, power tie, sharply pressed slacks, lips never more than a pucker away from kissing administrative butt. Another single-minded male librarian on the rise, answering questions dispassionately, winding my way towards promotion, retirement and death.
Two months ago, I was putting in time at the telephone reference desk on the other side of Brite Street.
“Platinum Public Library, may I help you?”
“Weren’t it Jesus say ‘the meek gone embarrass the earth’?”
I repeat the question verbatim for the benefit of my reference partner, Ophelia Frankel, hoping she’ll appreciate the civility with which I’m handling this idiot.