Private Magazine

Month: September, 2014

How to Get F’ed Up For Free: The Lackawanna Scene


This is the scene I observe, while peering into a vacant Ridge Road bar called “Cherry Stone”…

A television broadcast of the Miss America pageant flickers down upon a bedraggled bartender. He’s perched upon a stool, hunched over, gazing at his reflection in the lacquered bar top. No customers are in to dirty its surface. The clock on the wall tells an incorrect time. Miss America accepts her crown, drips Absolut Raz tears and grins her angel dust smile.

This is the Lackawanna scene?” I ask my co-worker and companion ,S.

“Let’s go inside. Clear our minds. Decide our game plan,” says S.

“But this guy probably won’t give us any drinks for free, since we’re his only customers,” I reply.

Earlier today, I sarcastically mentioned to S. that I’m suffering from a dating dry spell. Also, that I need a change of scenery.

“Every man I meet and date has a beard, tattoos, a bicycle, and emotional baggage,” I said. “I mean, does anyone else exist?”

“Come over later,” S. casually invited. “We can go out in Lackawanna.”

“Go out…in Lackawanna?” I stopped walking. “I’ll pack an overnight bag and be over by ten.”

I’m already a familiar degenerate within the Buffalo Scene, the Cheektowaga Scene, the Hamburg Scene, and definitely the Tonawanda Scene… so it’s time to penetrate  the Lackawanna Scene.



So here we are, at the wood-paneled pit with a questionable smell known as Cherry Stone.

“Well, we’re here,” I say, coming through the entrance and sitting down with a sigh. “Do you have any wine?”

The seemingly-intoxicated proprietor – sitting on the stool next to me -shakes himself from his stupor and runs behind the bar. This man – short, with a snowy mustache, ripened age of 60-something – removes a Barefoot bottle from the top shelf. It’s empty, except for maybe a quarter-ounce. He gives it a swirl, and pours the remains into a plastic cup, offering it to S. as a sample or something.  We look at each other.

“I’ll get a new bottle from the basement,” he says, and disappears. S. and I settle into our chairs, and I brace myself for a potentially boring night. A night free of chaos and lawlessness, unusual in its usual-ness…? Shit. I might even be in bed by midnight.

The tipsy barkeep returns from the wine cellar. He fills two glasses with ice and pours wine up to the brim.  Us girls whittle away some time, kind of ignoring the ceaseless stare coming from the bartender/owner guy.

“So, is there another joint around?” I inquire.

“I don’t know, I’ve only lived here two weeks,” says S.

“Around the corner, on Electric, there’s the old C2’s,” Mr. Cherry Stone says with an ominous look, eyeballs drifting in divergent directions. “That’s where all the real weirdos are…”

We close our tab and set sail for C2’s.



Coming around the bend, I see a man in a motorized wheelchair zipping away down the middle of the street, away from a tiny brick shack. A Labatt light illuminates the threshold of “the old C2’s.”

We enter; the place is packed with sloppily-dressed, dirty, and drunk white guys in their thirties and forties. Some lean against walls like moths; some are engaged in an infinite game of pool. Many linger around the lengthy bar, with a stumbling 40-something behind it.

I sit down at the end of the bar.


“I”ll just have a chardonnay,” I say to a drunken dad in a baseball hat.

“Three dollars.”

He hands me a giant goblet brimming with wine. I begin to hand him my credit card.

“We’re cash only, though,” he tells me.

“You are? Shit.” I  take a slurp of chardonnay. “ I don’t have $3…” I look around the room.

“It’s fine, I don’t care. There’s an ATM over there but whatever. I’m the owner too.” I’m realizing the bartender/owner thing is popular within the Lackawanna Scene.

“No, I’ll get $3 before the night is done. Don’t you worry!”

I revolve around the room and start talking to the Lackawanna lads.

“Hi!” I enthusiastically squeal, running up to a skinny, discolored man in a gray Marlboro tee .

“Hey there,” he says.

“So, what’s your name?”


“Is this the happening scene or what? I haven’t been here in gosh…ages! So  what are you drinking?”

“Uh, just a Bud.”

“Wow! You have great taste. I didn’t know it was cash only, and haven’t even paid for this yet…I just don’t know what to do.”

“Uh, there’s an ATM right there.”

I immediately bail on Steve and strike out with a few more bar flies. I’m surprised they don’t interpret my frenzied advances as an offer of sexual favors. Please. They can’t afford my sexual favors.

Turning around to the back of C2’s, I find myself at the pool table. Three sturdy gents with beer bellies are standing around holding pool ques, although I’m not sure if a game is actually in progress.

“So what’s the story here guys, are we the gambling sort?”

I can tell that one of the guys – a blonde, full -figured fellow in a plaid scarf  -is Top Dawg of C2’s.

“Nah, we just come around here and act silly!” The guy with the scarf bellows, grabbing his friend and putting him in a headlock. “Can I get you a drink?”

“Sure! But actually, I haven’t paid for this yet. I’m in debt.”

“I got you, girl!”

He runs up to the bar and throws a wad of singles at the bartender/owner, who shakes his head in mock exasperation.

“I’m going out to the back patio,” this fellow declares, raising a hand to his lips to insinuate smoking a blunt. His green scarf trails behind him elegantly as he strolls outside. He beckons me to follow him.

“Oh, that darn Schmitty!” The owner jeers, drinking a shot.

I follow Schmitty outside, and despite the freezing temperature, there’s a group of maybe 15 people chilling on picnic tables. A couple more guys – Schmitty’s pals – sit down at our table. One of them pulls out a Seneca and removes half its tobacco. Schmitty unearths a plastic baggie from his pocket – cigarette pack cellophane with weed inside, lighter-sealed shut. Quaint.

Our crew – yes, I was adopted into the C2 crew – stroll inside with a new vision. An emaciated guy, obviously same-sex orientated, is twirling around the room in a Fruit Loops hoodie. From the looks of his pupils, he’s eaten some pills. I’m accosted by a man with a ‘stache and a margarita glass full of ice and Pepsi. He divulges that my wine glass inspired him to get his drink in a wine glass, too.

My night with the triple OGs of C2’s is turning out to be pretty great. I wouldn’t necessarily be caught here again, but would definitely rate the Lackawanna Scene four stars in terms of hospitality.


Booty Call Me Maybe


The first time I really spoke to Trevor Lawson, we discussed alcoholic whipped cream.

“What do you do with this?” my friend Jennifer inquired. “Or rather, who do you do with this?”

Trevor Lawson let out a polite chuckle.  Jennifer was immersed in the ancient art of being a wingwoman, the origins of which date back to Roman times.

“There’s an old couple who buys that all the time,” he replied.

Trevor is an associate at Hodge Liquor. He hosts wine tastings, tequila seminars, and bourbon barbeques. All month long, I’ve made numerous trips to the store, always with the plan to chat up the blue-eyed, hairy-chested associate known as Trevor Lawson. But time and time again, I’d leave with nothing more than another bottle of wine to add to my growing collection.

“Are you going to let opportunities pass you by?” Jennifer had shrieked. “If you don’t take initiative, you will wind up married to a bum, living in a trailer, with seven kids you can’t even afford.”

Jennifer had taken it upon herself to throw me into the fires of Making the First Move. So there we were, standing awkwardly in Hodge Liquor, in front of the elusive Trevor Lawson.

“So – I’d like you to meet my friend,” Jennifer shouted, grabbing me by the arm and pulling me away from a display of corkscrews.

“Oh, hello,” I said, fidgeting. “Nice to meet you.”

“Yes, likewise,” Trevor said. Then he took the push broom he had been holding the entire time and began to push it down the scotch aisle, away from us.

“Well?” I grabbed Jennifer by the shoulders. “There he goes, sweeping away, can’t very well give him my phone number now!”

I realized the omnipresent cashier – who may or may not be mentally slow – had been staring at us the whole time.

“Look -” I ran up to the counter, slammed my wine bottle down. “I have a crush on Trevor Lawson, ok? Here -” I scribbled my number down on a receipt. “Give this to him.”

Then we paid for the booze and exited Hodge Liquor.



A week has passed since the Hodge Liquor encounter. It’s 10 pm on a Wednesday, which means I’m sitting around in my underwear.  I’m pretty sure my note to Trevor Lawson was thrown in the trash, misplaced, or ignored. I guess now I’ll have to shop at Danahy’s.

My phone rings. It’s a number I don’t recognize.


Static is coming through from the other end, some inscrutable background noise…I’m about to hang up.

Hell- lo?”

“Oh, hello, sorry,” It’s a male voice. I hear a lighter flick.  “This is Trevor Lawson. From Hodge Liquor.” He coughs. “Sorry it took me so long, I was in DC for a week. And sorry if my voice is a little raspy.” He hacks up something and I can hear him inhale a cigarette.  “We partied a lot in DC.”

“Oh…it’s ok, no worries. How was DC?”

“Well, it was hot, but one of my buddies lives down there and we really caused an uproar. I might have a broken toe. Hang on a minute.”

He puts the phone down and I hear him banging his fist on a wall or something.

“Ok sorry,” he says, “My roommate keeps telling me to keep it down.” There’s a loud crash in the background.

“Yeah, um, no problem.” I say. “So what are you up to?”

“Me and my roommate we hadafewdrinksandnowimnouweadaf pppp.”

Huh? I can’t hear you….Hello?”

Trevor Lawson has hung up on me. Oh well. I’m in my bed and about to go to sleep. Then I realize he’s calling me back.


“Yeah, sorry about that. I rolled over on my phone.”

“Um…no problem.”

“Yeah, I must confess that I’m a little tipsy, we had some wine over here and my roommate threw up on the floor, but everything’s ok now.”

“Well that’s good. Good thing!”

“I think tomorrow we should go on a late night date to Mother’s, let’s hang out tomorrow, do you work tomorrow?”

“No, actually I’m off tomorrow.”

“Good, great -” Suddenly his voice cuts out. I look at my phone. He’s hung up on me again.

I roll over and close my eyes. Mother’s…my favorite. Then I realize Trevor’s calling me back once more.


“Yeah, sorry, I rolled over on top of my phone.”

“Don’t even worry your pretty little head about it,” I say. He probably won’t even remember this conversation. There’s another loud crash in the background.

“I gotta say that I was surprised to receive a note from you at the store,.I just think you are so pretty and nice, you should come over here, I live on Linwood…LIN -WOOD” The phone goes dead.

He calls me again, but this time I don’t answer.

Trevor Lawson seems like just my type.



The following evening, Trevor meets me outside my apartment. He’s wearing his Hodge Liquor polo and red plaid shorts. We go for a walk.

I notice that Trevor Lawson walks with an energetic, jaunty strut and I really can’t tell how old he is. I’m hoping he’s not younger than me, which is a major no-no as far as my life is concerned.

“How old are you?”

He coughs. “I’m old, getting older by the day,” he says, running a hand through his thick brown hair. “I’ll be 29.”

“Oh, I’ll be 26 in September.”

Our walk leads us down Linwood, where Trevor resides. I decide not to bring up Mother’s. It’s a great night for a walk. The warm, early summer air is pleasant and not humid. We stop at the corner of Linwood and West Utica.

“This is where I live,” Trevor says, pointing up at a brick apartment complex. “Do you want to go up for a drink and then we can go out somewhere?”


Trevor and I have been chatting away non-stop. We both talk a lot, and Trevor’s the type to speak with his entire body, making wild gesticulations and exaggerated arm movements. I like his animated personality, and how it contrasts with a brooding, somewhat-sad look in his eyes. Trevor Lawson is definitely a passionate individual.

He leads me up two flights of stairs, then down a white, unadorned hallway, and unlocks his apartment door.

“My roommate isn’t home,” Trevor says. He stands in the middle of a stark living room. There’s a wooden rocking chair – bottle of Jack Daniels next to it –  in front of a TV. A gigantic Campari ad adorns the wall behind a 10-foot structure composed of wine crates.

“This is my bar,” Trevor declares, leading me behind the wine crate structure. “I made it myself.”

There’s tons of fancy, foreign liquors to choose from. Shot glasses and other glassware decorate most surfaces in the room.

“Here, let’s sample some libations.” Trevor selects a bright green liquor from his collection. “This is distilled by monks, and contains over 100 different herbs.” He pours us each a half shot. “Cheers.”

“There’s something you should know,” he says, suddenly removing his polo. His chest and back are completely covered in hair. There’s a dramatic pause.  “Is this going to be a problem?”

“Um, no. Why?”

“Some girls think it’s weird,” he says, “And I say, ok, there’s the door.”

Several more tastings are poured.  I’m getting an education into all varieties of booze.

“This whiskey is very rare,” Trevor announces, unscrewing the cap with a flourish. “ Triple distilled with notes of peat moss.”

I’m pretty buzzed. Trevor and I look at each other.  He’s still got his shirt off.

“You know what I really like?” he says, “The fact that you don’t need a chaser.”

We set our shot glasses down and look into each other’s eyes and fall into a tipsy make out session.  After a moment, we decide to tour the opposite side of the room. There’s a fishbowl on a  small end table.

“This is my beta fish. I named him Billecart-Salmon, after the champagne.”

We stoop down to eye level with the fishbowl. Billecart-Salmon is floating at the top. Trevor and I look at eachother.

“I think he’s dead,” I say.

Trevor sighs, stands, picks up Billecart’s bowl. “He was sick for a while.” He leads me into his bathroom. The two of us are standing above the toilet; I put my hand on Trevor’s shoulder. We watch as deceased Billecart-Salmon circles and disappears down the drain.

“I’m so sorry,” I say.

We head out to Trevor’s balcony to smoke cigarettes.

“You know, don’t take this the wrong way, but I didn’t think I would have this much fun with you,” Trevor says.

“Me neither,” I reply. “I didn’t know what you were like either.”

And that was the start of a brief, yet passionate, affair.