Around the corner from the studio where I work is a comfy old man bar called Trafika 67. Often, we’ll head over there after a long day of so-called visual communication. There was one thing missing a few nights ago, though:
See that empty table in the back? 9 out of every 10 times I’ve been there, there are two old regulars holding court there, whom we refer to as ‘The Mayors of Trafika’, or just ‘Statler and Waldorf’. On the rare occasion that they aren’t ensconced there, there’s a ‘Reserved’ sign sitting on the table. Sometimes, they forget to put up the ‘Reserved’ sign– it’s sort of a rite of passage when you first start going to Trafika to grab this nicely-situated empty table, only to be confronted by a displaced Statler or Waldorf a few minutes later bearing an expression of UTMOST DISDAIN.
Statler and Waldorf are on friendly terms with the barmaids there, and with a few other oldster regulars (Fozzie Bear and Bunsen, let’s say), but otherwise keep their own counsel.* What they mainly do is a consume VERY LARGE quantities of alcohol very slowly and methodically, with no visible change to their manner at all. Once, I accidently got a fascinating glimpse into what the rest of their day is like: Trafika, like all good bars, opens shortly after noon… one day I was heading to the office and decided to peek in the window to see what transpires there in the afternoon hours. There were Statler and Waldorf in an otherwise-empty bar, drinking espressos and reading newspapers… but sitting at separate tables. I can only guess that this is a kind of routine for them: hang out at separate tables during the day, then ‘meet up for a drink’ at their primary table in the evening.
The truth is that many bars in Prague have their own version of Statler and Waldorf. There is another oldster place right nearby Trafika where my wife and I used to go for lunch sometimes (‘bar’ and ‘restaurant’ often sort of overlap here, so its not uncommon to have some guys getting totally wasted next to you while you’re eating lunch). In the corner of the lunch place were two Statler and Waldorf-like regulars… once, I noticed that there were actually two framed photos of these guys on the wall right over their seats. Wow! That’s better than having your initials stitched into a bar stool. I can only assume that when those two guys eventually die, they’ll be stuffed and mounted over their customary seats like prize bucks.
Anyway, on the night when that photo was taken, I actually got it from the bartender that Statler and Waldorf would not be coming… and we were cleared to sit at their table! It’s truly a comfortable perch, situated in the corner against the wood-paneled walls and commanding a view of the door and other tables. The chairs seemed conspicuously creakier and more worn in than other chairs. A vague odor of B.O. lingered in the corner… but not too bad. For one night, I could lay claim to being the Mayor (Mayer) of Trafika 67.
* Unfortunately, they don’t act like the real Statler and Waldorf and sit around saying things like ‘That fried cheese was what you call ‘medium’: it wasn’t rare and it certainly wasn’t well done… HA HA HA HA!” That would be great.