Some fellow writers tell me they love to sit in restaurants or bars, listening to people talk. They write down the dialogue they overhear, and then they incorporate it into short stories or novels. Sounds like a good plan but it never works for me. In general I think “real” dialogue never sounds all that real by the time it’s got to the page. However …
I was in San Francisco over the weekend, and having dinner in pretty good French restaurant, Café de La Presse (snails, charcuterie, cassoulet, that kind of thing), and there was a man on the next table ordering a drink from the waiter. The guy looked a bit like Adam Savage of Mythbusters, but more groomed.
The dialogue went like this.
ADAM SAVAGE LOOKALIKE: I’d like a Perfect Manhattan.
WAITER: A Perfect Manhattan.
ADAM SAVAGE LOOKALIKE: Shaken violently.
WAITER: Shaken violently?
ADAM SAVAGE LOOKALIKE: Yes. (Pause) Violently.
You couldn’t make this stuff up, unless you were Harold Pinter.
The other good thing that I did in San Francisco was visit the Beat Museum where I picked up a couple of items I knew I should have bought on my last visit; a pair of sponge beer cozies (sometimes spelled koozies), the things you wrap around your beer can to keep your beer cold and/or your hand warm. As you see, one is emblazoned with the face of Charles Bukowski, the other with Hunter S. Thompson.
Frankly I can’t see Chas using one of these things to hold his beer. He wasn’t the kind of guy whose beer stuck around long enough to get warm, and he surely didn’t care about getting his hand a little wet. Thompson seems more likely. A man who uses a cigarette holder might also use a beer cozy, though I can’t find any photographic evidence for this.
I suspect that, at a pinch, you could even use one of these cozies to sheath your cocktail shaker, as you shake your Perfect Manhattan, yes, violently.