Bar Maggots

You’ll find all sorts in your friendly, hospitable NYC bar…. people watching’s enlightening at the very least…

Article by Christen Fisher Photograph by Clem Onojeghuo

In high school, I experimented with fruit flies. It was gross and a complete waste of time. Fortunately, I’ve blocked most of the memory. In college, I experimented with bar flies. It was an immersion program, and yielded similar results, including some memory loss. But after school ended, I assumed my education through insect experimentation was over as I suspect most people do, save the rogue entomologist or committed alcoholic. And it was, until this past weekend when I discovered education never ends.

Let Me Explain…

My husband and I belong to a dating service. It finds and recommends dates for us to go on, not with — get your mind out of the gutter and watch your prepositions—in our area. So far, we’ve taken a class on graffiti art, attended the Alfred Hitchcock Film Festival, and played Drag Queen Bingo. This past weekend, we toured a distillery in Brooklyn.

Now I’m no teetotaler, but in a pinch you could sub straight Drano for gin in my cocktail and I probably wouldn’t taste the difference. This was more of a husband-centric date. He went to Drag Queen Bingo, so I tour a distillery. Quid pro quo, Clarice. Quid pro quo. Anyway, after the tour, we were invited to the distillery’s adjoining bar to enjoy two free drinks. The bar was swarming with the types of bearded and floral romper-clad hipsters one expects to see on a Saturday night in Brooklyn. What we didn’t expect was the line of strollers against the wall or the woman nursing her infant in the unisex bathroom who replied, “No prob. Just pee,” when I tried to spare our mutual dignity by offering to come back later.

The buzz in the place was too loud for my husband and I to have a meaningful discussion about the stroller anomaly or my unique unisex experience. We only managed to crack our favorite Reese Witticism: “Look at you. You have a baby… in a bar.” And have a laugh before the deafening horde forced us back into parallel observation.

The Hypotheses 

Over dinner—in Manhattan at a grown-ups-only steakhouse—we attempted to explain these phenomena. I offered that our own kids often ran around the bar of our local tavern while we waited for a table. But, my husband pointed out, this place had no dining area and no food offerings whatsoever, except for the one in the bathroom, but that service seemed only available to a select crowd. And if it wasn’t, well, look out for my forthcoming piece entitled, Breast is Best for Everyone: how to solve world hunger according to The Grapes of Wrath post in the future. There was also the Lena Dunham doppelganger who took an embarrassingly long time to tie a cherry stem in a knot with her tongue, but I wouldn’t recommend anyone eat what she was offering.

My husband countered that it was “probably just World Cup stuff.” Since not everyone speaks his particular brand of shorthand, I’ll translate: People in apartments don’t always invest in wall-size flat panels like we do in the suburbs, Honey. And even if they do, their walls are a lot smaller. Having 30 of your Vuvuzela-toting besties over to watch the match is probably a violation of the lease, if not the fire code. But, I quickly pointed out, this place had no TV and no Wi-Fi. Even the cell service kept showing up as E. I don’t know what that means, but it’s probably not the network.

Infinite Possibilities

Over the courses of a delightfully quiet dinner, our list of explanations expanded exponentially into spheres political, psychological, and medical.

  • It’s some kind of government-sponsored thing we’ll soon be reading about in the journals—Urban Daddy and New York Magazine. No child left behind, so let’s move… to a bar.
  • It could be a members meeting of the FAA– Future Alcoholics Anonymous—because a shot of prevention is worth a pilsner of cure.
  • Or perhaps scientists have decreed that by putting a toddler down on a sticky-for-God-knows-what-reason barroom floor or nursing your infant next to a clogged, and therefore foamy, urinal you’re exposing it to a level of bacteria so pervasive it will force the immune system to function at a superhuman level so that the next generation will be able to leap tall venereal diseases in a single round of antibiotics without running the risks of vaccination.

The possibilities seemed infinite, but in the end we went back to high school and Occam’s Razor (yes, we took AP classes): the simplest explanation is usually…

The Correct One

This was a bar, not a restaurant, not a sports bar. Just a bar. With a buzz. And all that bar buzzing meant these creatures were barflies, unrecognizable to me because I had never before seen them at this stage of their life cycle. Those babies on the floor and next to the foamy urinal were not anomalous. As the progeny of their barfly parents, they were precisely typical. Being baby barflies or barflies in their larval stage would make a bar their natural habitat.

What do you call larvae in a bar?**

See? The learning never stops. riddle_stop 2


**Note: for those who failed Bio, see title for answer.

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