Monday, March 11, 2019

Eighty-Six My Birthday


When I was in my twenties my wife-at-the-time dragged me to a psychic who also channeled. The wacko went into a pseudo trance and purported to make contact with some so-called masters, Father John and Ching Li. The only thing I remember from the sojourn to Hocus-Pocus Land was the declaration that I would live till the ripe age of 86. This news from that other dimension seemed like immortality at the time. Now I’m about ready for a second opinion. I’ll be 86 in ten days. Maybe Father John or Ching Li will offer an extension on my lease.

The thing that scares me about becoming 86 is that distant echo in my head from when I worked in one of those corner drugstores with a fountain. 86 on the egg salad or 86 on strawberry ice cream. Those were familiar voices shouted across the footstools meaning, we’re out of stock. I’m not ready to be out of stock.

One story has it that the term 86 comes from the address of a pub in Greenwich Village named Chumley’s. (Peggy use to hang out there). During Prohibition the police were on the take and the place would get warned ahead to hide the alcohol and have the customers exit the side door while the cops entered the front door. That term 86 soon spread around to every speakeasy and beyond.

Still another urban legend dates back to when a drinker had one too many the bartender would switch from 100 proof to 86 proof.

It gets worse. Another theory about the derivation of this term is that it comes from a Naval Inventory Code, AT-6, which loosely translated is ready for disposal. It’s bad enough to have been run out of but ready for the trash heap is worse. This is reinforced by yet another narrative which references the dimensions of a burial site, 8 by 6.

If I have any choice in the matter I’ll subscribe to the restaurant term simply that 86 rhymes with nix. So I shall say nix to 86 and emerge from the menu as a positive. I’ll be your blue plate special or the day’s prix fixe dinner.

If some of you never heard 86 it only means you haven’t lived enough years. You missed all that good stuff just as I am now baffled trying to navigate this techy world of clouds and apps while dodging viruses. I wonder what those two masters would have to say but my guess is that Father John ran off with Lydia Pinkham some years ago and Ching Li is a venture capitalist in Silicon Beach.

I've half a mind to 86 my 86th. I can hardly wait till I'm 87.

1 comment:

  1. Norm, leave it to you!! Priceless!
    PS I know what 86 means but didn’t know the theorys about from wence it came🙃

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