• Jennifer Barnick

The Abbey Lounge, Me, and a Prostitute


Photo Source: Flickr

I am very fond of live, semi-professional indie punk music. I can’t explain it—but it relaxes me and makes me happy inside. So, when I stumbled upon The Abbey Lounge, I felt as if I had landed on a special kind of heaven. It was both a dive bar (with old, salty locals) and a venue for killer, semi-professional indie punk bands. I tried to go as often as I could, and in no time at all, I had a great set of musician friends. Sometimes I would catch their shows at night, and sometimes I would come in the late afternoon and hang out with them while they practiced, as the owner of the bar pretty much let the bands do what they wanted on the ‘other half of the place.’

The Abbey Lounge had a very odd arrangement. On one side, it really was a salty dog dive bar. There was a jukebox with songs from the fifties, sixties, and seventies. There was a television with some kind of sporting event on it. There was a back bar filled with extremely cheap liquor. It was also very dark—excepting for a buzzing fluorescent light that hung above the few tables by the front window. There was a thick line, sometimes four men deep, of very devoted male drinkers of a primarily mature age—though, they were such devoted drinkers that I’m guessing many of the gentlemen were younger than they looked. Then on the other side, it was an open floor with a stage, and the walls were covered with bras meant to collect donations for band tours, posters of the regular Abbey bands, and Christmas lights (and I want to say Christmas decorations too—but I’m not sure). The band side was packed with relatively young people ranging from college preppies, tech nerd hipsters, local indie punk people, a few curious salty dogs, and a lot of annoyed looking girlfriends and wives of band members.

I loved it there; however, I must admit I was a regular on the band side of the Abbey and rarely engaged nor was I engaged by the dark end of the bar. There was one very memorable time though when I was fully engaged by the dark side of the Abbey, and that was the time I had my very first run-in with a bar girl or prostitute that offered her services in the confines of a bar (versus out on the street). I remember it being very cold in the middle of winter. It was relatively slow for the Abbey—meaning the bar was only two people deep. I came out of the little single stall in the bathroom, and a woman was washing her private parts in the sink. The Abbey was a place one definitely should wash their hands after using the facilities, so I decided to wait politely for my turn at the sink. It was a very tiny bathroom. We were no more than two feet apart. She was not the slightest bit shy and laughed that she always needed to wash up after a job. She then looked at me and said, “You know what I do, don’t you?” I then paused. It seemed logical what she did when one connected her washing her privates and informing me that it was an important thing to do after a job. I did not know what to say. She then laughed and said, “You really are a sweet one, aren’t you.” Her voice was supremely genuine. She then went on to tell me about her work while continuing to thoroughly wash herself (both in front and rear). It was fascinating to watch. She was naked from the waist down and had one foot up on the rim of the tiny, wall-mounted sink. Her pants and boots were slung over the paper towel dispenser. It was not unlike watching a highly skilled sous chef or gymnast. She felt so lucky—especially during the winter—to have a place to work like the Abbey. Nearly all of her clients were regulars. She liked them. The owner never asked for a cut—which again, she acknowledged profound gratitude. She really loved my hair and thought I was very pretty. I thanked her and told her that she too was very pretty (and she was).

She was somewhere in her early forties. She had long, black hair, with a river wave that just touched her bottom. Her skin was smooth and light brown, and she had a baby doll sweet voice, wide smile, and large beautiful eyes. I liked her. She made waiting for the sink uncommonly warm.

Below you can hear a live recording at the Abbey of one of the regular bands, SCHNOCKERED.

Postscript: The Abbey Lounge closed November 2008 according to its Wikipedia page (I was shocked to see it had a Wikipedia Page). I was sad to see I had missed a regulars’ reunion (You can find the article detailing the reunion, including a picture of The Abbey Lounge, here).

Jennifer Barnick is a painter and writer. She studied painting at the San Francisco Art Institute. She founded Twenty-two Twenty-eight. “One of the most exciting aspects of Twenty-two Twenty-eight is building a channel for artists and writers to share their work with the world.” You can follow Jennifer on her Instagram here.

Check out Jennifer’s book. You can read the first short story for free on Amazon here.