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A perfect date exists in the Northern Hemisphere and it begins and ends in Worker's Tavern under the Megler Bridge in Astoria. It goes like this: After preliminary (alcoholic) lubrication in Worker's, the date proceeds to the steaming adult book store upstairs, then to the steaming Finnish sauna next door, and concludes back at Worker's for a night cap and a white plate piled high with steaming red meat. It seems almost divine that these three excellent amenities are within 20 yards of each other. If there's a cooler block in Christendom I haven't seen it yet. On this date, your companion may be extra special, the "literature" stimulating and the sauna especially soothing, but truly, Worker's Tavern is the real star. If you exploit people for a living, don't fucking think about visiting this very old joint. Folks here either work, used to work, or currently drink for a living. Karl Marx, a notorious drunk who sponged for all drinks, would definitely dig this place because of its name, proletariat feel, and mini-library which is unfortunately without The Communist Manifesto. (I'll rectify that soon.) The freeloading German sot also would have loved the anti-corporate rant I overheard about the price-gouging evils of the cable television industry and how several patrons were organizing a work party to hang new gutters on the tavern. I doubt political revolution could ignite here, but at least a few of the workers of the world can unite, let loose with a good time--and get very drunk. At Worker's the bartender plies her trade from a slightly sunken platform. I mean the architecture of the joint, not her social status. Asked to characterize the place, she quickly responded: "No bullshit. No dope. No fights." Amen. She is surrounded on all sides by a thick wood counter and her faithful, thirsty customers. They are right out of Steinbeck or The Iceman Cometh and shoot the shit back and forth, sideways, at weird angles, to one another, and as I observed on one occasion, to imaginary friends. It makes for fragmented dialogue, multiple unintelligible conversations, and resembles the operating room scenes from the movie Mash. I was able to pick up one priceless line however: "Did you get the day off or are you just gettin' off?" Worker's is open 7 a.m. to midnight year round except New Year's Day when the hangovers most likely require medical attention with saline solution. Naturally, Bud is the only beer on tap but there is a full selection of spirits where you can order a $9 double Southern Comfort and grapefruit juice like one patron regularly does, much to the chagrin of the more penny-pinching or fixed-income clientele. As for food, Worker's moves the meat without any apparent fear of Mad Cow. There is the Friday/Saturday night prime rib dinner and an all day, every day, $7 NY steak and eggs special that seems to be popular and bestows a badge of credibility. Stupidly, I ordered a cheese sandwich and the management thought I was an undercover state liquor agent until I proved my writerly credentials by ordering a cheap whiskey and a can of Hamm's chaser. And speaking of government regulation, tacked on a wall near the entrance to Worker's Tavern, is an Oregon Health Division Inspection Report. Typically such a posting doesn't inspire customer confidence in an establishment. I read the report and the state made two complaints about Worker's: "Inadequate chlorine concentrations in the dishwasher" and "worn floors." Dirty glasses and beat-up hardwood floors in a historic tavern! If your date doesn't think that's cool, find someone else who does.
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