NANCEY & HER VODKA – Brian Pester

To bed with the tactile subconscious. Fracture took a right turn off the cliff side & fell three doors down. I pour Nancey another shot of gin & queue up six random access memories, like a game of Russian roulette. The stakes, as always, are nothing. Circuit boards are black holes for poets, dreams the philosopher, whispers the banker. Real estate scars the suburbs as the bull mounts a housewife & indie responds with a bandname. The resistance has, by definition, never been adequate, yet there are times when it almost feels like enough. You’re either worth your weight in barrels of oil or not, there’s no gray area, depending on the day’s trading. Which is what Nancey said to the bartender, who was my brother, back when my brother was a bartender. Why are you pouring the shots, then, Nancey asks.

This was a bit we did.

Life is full of bits & pieces you never seem to shake – certain approaches, contingency strategies, etc. If someone doesn’t make a joke about the instructional movie will this flight ever take off!! for example. Even with a full bar there aren’t many cocktails you can make with gin, though one you can is generally considered the test of a good bartender. You’re a good bartender, Nancey says to my brother, though I was in the habit of construing everything she said as indirectly directed at myself.

This was never going to be the case with Nancey, who spent her youth in the scouts, which she said had nothing to do with why she was the way she was, though you suspected otherwise. She didn’t like when you suspected things of her, but she expected things of you, & things of your brother. Everyone expects things of everyone, you suspect, & pour yourself another shot of gin.

A good bartender must, of course, also maintain a following, which requires personality. Your brother was notoriously good at this. One joke in particular people swore by – they said it was the reason they would never leave the city, which anyways wasn’t much of a city in the way it is now a city. Certain routines you can never wear out, your brother is saying – unclear if it is directed towards you or at Nancey. Nancey, who has never explained much regarding her past, some sort of scout’s honor, you reason, though your brother expects otherwise.

I wonder if you asked a hundred Americans which was better Bombay Sapphire or Tanqueray it would be pretty evenly split. People know Hendricks, obviously, this is what your brother uses to make the cocktail that determines whether or not he’s a good bartender. Thing is, he says, it’s totally out of my hands. More often than not you have to play to the lowest common denominator & it is honestly exhausting. You pour another shot of gin while your brother isn’t looking, though the camera manages to catch your stare. Surveillance is passed down to the people like some last-minute chrimbo gift from an alcoholic step-father. The feds are delinquent on their child support, business is in bed with a new silent partner. The couple at the end of the bar compliments your brother’s cocktail, meaning that, for now at least, he is a good bartender.

Was a good bartender. Nancey bites your thumb.

Another survey question is whether most people in a bar know when they are being watched, although there are serious problems with self-reporting. Science & art cannot coexist, declares the newspaper in an online incantation, yet the election is still won at the A&P magazine rack. They used to display promotional material Nancey produced, ads for people’s beach houses, renting them out & such. Occasionally she & her brother were allowed to spend the weekend at one of these houses. They used to do the craziest things in this house, which you’ve heard of, but never confirmed.

Utilities grift the foundation. You have chicken thawing in a pot on the sink & a toilet chain hanging from the oven handle. A bottle of Tanqueray in the freezer. Or the fridge, you never know which, despite the many times my brother has explained it to you. Nancey & her brother’s life was like a Kevin Smith film, her brother said, which didn’t endear him to many in our circle. People who make such comparisons rarely fare well in the social marathon – they might receive a midcareer reappraisal, but how many times does this really move the needle? Our fates are cast much quicker than anyone wants to admit everyone now rushes to admit. The seduction of the cyclical is the euphoria of anti-death, so consider me old fashioned, but I won’t call the same drink with vodka by the name of that classic cocktail.

It’s become chic to imagine not receiving a menu as owning a lifestyle. Entire businesses are built on such minor miscalculations which aren’t worth the price of admission to fix.

Fixing & getting their fix, sounds like a Tarantino flick, you & I think, the same people who made fun of the Smith fan.

We haven’t really started building up preserves of forgotten films yet, but we are well on our way if allowed to continue. Not everything needs to be renegotiated – a common refrain from people who have won negotiations.

Nancey actually ran the company a few years, there’s an entire story to be written there, but she claims she isn’t the one to write it. I was so present I was empty is the best she could give me some nights – others were better. I, as you might have guessed, have some issues with your brother. I expect you know what to suspect. Anyways.