Gary Rinsem

Seattle Nights
August 1984

Stranded In Seattle
One Saturday Evening

We missed the ferry back to the Naval Station in Bremerton and didn't want to waste a night of liberty in a motel room. We chose wandering aimlessly around downtown Seattle instead. It's a big city which caused us to expect some sort of night life. What we got was nothing like you'd expect.

It was a good walk from the ferry pier to the downtown district, but we hurried to get out of the damp and almost raining Seattle night. At least it was warm and became a beautiful morning. We found a small sandwich shop and stopped for food. It didn't take long because they were closing and wanted us out, but suggested a bar nearby.

The bar was found exactly where it was described, but not as described. It was supposed to be the hot spot. It was almost full, but no life whatsoever. A man sat on a stool playing a guitar and singing country songs into a microphone, very badly. We drank sodas and ate nachos while talking about the people in the bar. Half an hour was enough. We'd already heard one-too-many somebody done somebody wrong songs. We asked for directions to someplace... else. Mind you, we weren't disappointed with the evening so far. It was an adventure regardless of how the adventure played out.

The second bar had... get ready... a man about fifty years old sitting on a stool with a guitar and a microphone. He was more entertaining than the first, he didn't sing a single song. We sat there, drinking sodas and eating nachos while he entertained us with bits about his life. Only bits, not complete stories, not even complete sentences usually. It went something like this. "I got a bicycle" strums guitar "when I was about fifteen years old." Long pause. Some strumming happens. Nothing like music. "Mine was not new like some boys got." Strums guitar. "My first wife had problems" strums guitar "I wish I would have gone to college." Strums guitar.

The third bar had nachos and soda... and two dozen elderly couples listening to a man on a stool with a guitar and a microphone. Lucky for us we like nachos. There was a small dance floor and this guy on a stool with a guitar and a microphone, was actually playing the guitar and singing a variety of songs. His entire repertoire was from the nineteen thirties and forties. Nothing he sang was upbeat because the customers were all over eighty and trying to dance to it. The waitress was hot and their uniforms left little to the imagination. She told us about another place while her boobs were nearly popping out of a skimpy costume. The ladies very subtly propositioned her, but she wanted nothing from them.

Bar number four hit us hardest with the most unusual crowd we could imagine. Unlike the first three places, number four was for the young and hip set of Seattle. Some looked to be under fifty years old. Twice our age instead of thrice.

It was one am when we left bar number four to wander aimlessly in the night through downtown Seattle. There was an unfinished elevated freeway running parallel to the waterfront. It ended oddly and abruptly high above the street. There were three drunken men standing at the end of the elevated freeway, peeing down below while loudly laughing and singing. They threw beer bottles to the ground to watch them break. We sat on a fence and watched them for signs of falling to their deaths.

Note written sometime in the 1990s:

I'd like to expand and finish this someday.... but nothing happened. That's what happened until "A Memory That Lasts." Because of that memory, Seattle Nights is special to me as the lead-in to "A Memory That Lasts." The memory of Seattle Nights makes me smile.