When I mention that I am headed to the Gim Wah, the owner of a neighboring restaurant tells me that the last time he passed by he saw a man out front of the place putting out his cigarette with one of the swim flippers he was wearing. "It's always something at the Gim Wah," he tells me. When I actually arrive there, there are ten customers -- all male, all over 40, and more of them outside smoking than inside drinking (though none wearing flippers). Eventually a woman enters -- an older lady with a great swirl of blue hair and an overwhelming amount of soapy perfume. Some of the men are loudly telling stories about crab traps and tides and how easy it was to dig up a bucket of clams 30 years ago. As each new customer wanders in, he is greeted with some jest of recognition -- "Uh-oh, here comes trouble. Ha ha ha!" "You have the truck out tonight?" "Yeah, Trans Am don't go so good in the snow." "Ha ha ha!"
At the other end of the bar is a scary looking guy -- he looks stone sober and dead serious, a placid, impatient scowl beneath his thin mustache. He is a big, Latino man who rarely speaks, but seems to lie in a steady orbit of drunk locals around him, who elaborate their problems to him. The big man speaks quietly, so you can make out only the other, drunker side of the conversations. "He don't pay me nothin." "Life is hard. I take care of my mother." "You can be a good guy for so long, and then fuck it, it ain't workin."
There's snow starting to fall outside -- more is predicted overnight and people are wondering aloud if it will lead to the sort of traffic debacles that the last storm did. The latest drunk guy to have been chatting up the stoic big man seems to be calling it a night. The big man makes one last imperceptibly quiet comment, and the drunk man slides off his stool in the general direction of the front door. "No," says the drunk guy, "I don't need your help to get home." I decide to call it a night too, but I'll be back.
Est. ?; Building constructed: 1946
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