The Policy At Polk’s

November 3, 2010

Don’t pass out at Polk’s in Athens. Mr. Polk will take a Sharpie to your forehead. A guy I met there said one night he passed out at the bar and woke up with the words EGG YOLK on his forehead. He had told his wife that he was working late that night. When he came home with EGG YOLK on his forehead his wife said, What the hell? He said he had lost a bet at work. A week later he was at Polk’s again and he had again told his wife that he was working late. And once again, he passed out at the bar. This time Mr. Polk wrote LIAR on his forehead. When he came home his wife asked him why he had LIAR on his forehead and he told her that he lost yet another bet at work. The guy told me that she believed him. I don’t know why she did. Maybe she’s gullible, or maybe she didn’t want to face the fact that her husband is indeed a liar and a drunk. He also told me that after he explained why he had LIAR on his forehead she went down on him. She’s the kind of wife who goes down on you, he said, even after she knows you’ve lied to her. The third time the guy passed out at Polk’s Mr. Polk wrote DIVORCE ME on his forehead. When the guy woke up he tried extra-hard to wash it off in the bathroom because DIVORCE ME is much worse than EGG YOLK and LIAR. But Mr. Polk always presses hard when he writes on drunks’ foreheads and the message didn’t wash off. So the guy went home with DIVORCE ME written on his forehead. His wife asked if he had lost another bet at work and the guy said that he had. His wife asked him if he wanted her to divorce him. The guy said he would die if she divorced him. You’re all I have, he said. You can’t divorce me. She said, I won’t divorce you, but only if you never come him with Sharpie on your forehead again. All these weird messages are weirding me out.

I was at Polk’s last night and the guy was passed out at the bar next to me. Mr. Polk said he was sick of this guy. It’s bad for business to have folks asleep at the bar. He handed me the Sharpie and said, Think of something to write on his forehead. Hey, I said, the guy said that if he goes home with Sharpie on his forehead again his wife will divorce him. I don’t want to ruin his life. That may be true, Mr. Polk said, but I have a policy: If you pass out at Polk’s, you get written on. Now, I’m not willing to go against policy just to save this guy’s marriage. This is the fourth time he’s passed out here. Either you do it or I do it. If I do it, I’m writing I WAS AT POLK’S, so if you want to help him out then you should do it. So I thought about it. What could I write on his forehead that wouldn’t get him divorced? I LOVE YOU? I’M SORRY? FORGIVE ME? But it didn’t matter what I wrote. She said if he ever came home again with Sharpie on his forehead, she would divorce him. I asked Mr. Polk if I had to write on his forehead. He said, I don’t care where you write on him as long as you do it quickly, he could wake up any minute. I undid his belt and unbuttoned and unzipped his pants. Above his mound of pubes I wrote I NEED HELP. Mr. Polk said, What good is that going to do? I said that there was a chance he wouldn’t notice it tonight. And later on when his wife’s going down on him she’ll see it and realize he needs help. And then they’ll talk about stuff. Sometimes after two people talk about stuff things are alright.  It’s the right thing to do, I said. This guy needs help.

The guy woke up and said, Aw man, not again. What did you write on me this time? Nothing, Mr. Polk said. You’re off the hook tonight. But next time you pass out here I’m writing NAZI FAGGOT, I swear to God. The guy went to the bathroom and looked in the mirror to make sure, and then he went home.

I didn’t see the guy at Polk’s for a month. I thought that maybe he quit drinking, or maybe now he drank at home where his wife could look after him. Either way, what I wrote above his pubes had made a difference, I was sure.

On Christmas Eve it was me and Mr. Polk at the bar eating turkey sandwiches and drinking wine. Around ten or eleven the guy walked in. He was fatter, and he was as drunk as we’d ever seen him. The bar stool wobbled and almost fell over when he sat on it. He ordered a scotch. Long time, no see, how’s things? I said. He said things are bad. Real bad. My wife, she left me. You guys said you didn’t write anything that night, but you did write something. You wrote I NEED HELP above my dick and when she was going down on me that morning she saw it and she got all sorts of mad about it. She said there’s no way anyone at work would write that on me. It doesn’t make sense. They would never tell me I needed help. So I had to come clean. I had to tell her I was coming here to drink the whole time. She said she couldn’t live with someone who was such a liar and she moved in with her sister. But there’s a chance she’ll come back. Mr. Polk said there’s always a chance and he gave the guy a turkey sandwich and a glass of wine. I said that she’ll be back, she misses you. Naw, she’s gone for good, the guy said. She got hysterical when I told her I threw it to her cousin who lives in Chauncey.

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