Four Aces

We’re sitting in the back corner of The Roger Room, drinking Four Aces. It’s a hidden bar, a trendy, modern day speakeasy. There’s no sign at the door. I’ve passed by many times and always thought it was an abandoned fortune teller’s place. I was wrong.

There’s a porn/ fantasy costume shop across the street with elaborate windows and misty eyed mannequins. Somehow, the two places fit together.

Here’s what you need to make a Four Aces:

3 basil leaves
6 seedless white grapes
1½ ounces vodka
½ ounce Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur
½ ounce fresh lime juice
¼ ounce simple syrup
1 ounce club soda

Drink one of these, and you’ll laugh yourself silly, even if you can’t explain the joke. Finish a second and you’ll say anything to get your date to say something.

Every cultural anthropologist should drink them.

So, we’re drinking our Four Aces with only eight clinking ice cubes between us to slow us down. I’ve been thinking about ghosts since I got to Melrose. Not the kind that haunts your house, theater, or appliances, but the kind that you leave behind every time you kiss someone on the street, or break someone’s heart at the diner. Even the gossamer threads of other people’s stories stick to places. Sometimes, if you pay attention, you can see them, too.

Most of my ghosts live in New York, but bussing across Melrose and walking down La Cienega, I see a bevy of them hanging out in doorways and street corners. Having lived and loved in Los Angeles, several ghosts have taken up California residency.

I liked him. It was a perfect first date. We laughed, we drank, we talked. He was very nice to look at.

He asked how I got there and I told him I took the bus. I fear this might’ve been a turn off, though, aside from the look of horror and disgust that flashed across his face, he didn’t let on.

We talked about love. We talked about marriage. We talked about parents and siblings. New York and L.A. Jobs and dreams. It was nice.

And then he drove me home.

I asked him about his ghosts as we drove up La Cienega and across Sunset. Mine were out in full force – the restaurant where I fought with my friend, the witchcraft store with the fancy oils, the vegetarian restaurant where I told my television star crush that I was in love with someone else. I asked my date, my charming new friend, my first subject, about his ghosts. A born and bred Valley boy, he admitted to a few.

And then he kissed me good night rIght outside my house. It was an uncertain peck.

I ran my dog out for a quick walk. And saw another ghost, a new one, staring at me from the stoop.

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