Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Holiday is Over?

The dingiest dive bar in new york city is right around the corner from me. The Holiday Cocktail Lounge is owned by 89 year old Stefan, who still tends the bar. He's slow and hard of hearing. He's also surly, smells of rotting carcass, and speaks with an accented whisper. He used to be a big soccer star back in his native Germany, or so the story goes. Sometimes he's in a mood to talk, and other times he just kicks you out of his bar for no apparent reason.

The place is dark and dirty. The back area has booths that are duct-taped. The bathrooms are like graffiti scratched coffins. WH Auden hung out here. So did Frank Sinatra. Madonna did too, before she was famous. They say the place was inspiration for her song "Holiday". Stefan says she only ever drank 7-up.

The last time I was in Holiday, I was plastered. One of the regulars came in and asked the old man about his health. Stefan produced a can of Ensure -- one of those high calorie drinks that old people drink to keep on weight -- saying this was what his doctor made him drink because he's so frail. Plastered and alone, I just started bawling.

Each time I walk past Holiday, I peek my head in for the "death watch". Each time I see Stefan in there and that makes me smile. I dare him to live. It gives me hope that maybe one person can really live forever. There he is, that surly old man tending bar in that scuzzy gem, that last bastion of the east village prior to gentrification. The only bar that offers Heineken Dark.

When I got back from Oz, I went for my giddy little death watch and found Holiday closed. It was only 10pm, but this wasn't too unusual. Stefan has a habit of closing early--whenever he gets too tired, he just kicks everyone out and goes upstairs to bed. But I've been back every day since and it's never been open. Through the window, I see the stools are upside down all around the bar.

I checked the blogs today, and the rumor is that Holiday Cocktail Lounge is closed for good. That Stefan is in the hospital.

And my little fantasy of forever is gone.


Anonymous said...

not to worry sweetie . . . i will live forever.

xoxo -


Jeremiah Moss said...

it is open!