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Well, here it is: the highlights of the party and our final farewell to the Toronado.

May 21 – The Party

As goodbye parties go, this went exactly as I planned it. No loud music or overly drunk acquaintances milling around and mooching free beer off of us… just a handful of good friends enjoying a last Friday night together.

The night started with my ex-work crew who showed up a little after 4pm. Judy, Rick, Adriana and Molly were there waiting for me as I went to get ice for the two kegs of Speakeasy beer that Forest and Steve had generously donated for the event. Earlier in the evening, I bid farewell to Dave (the owner) and Jennifer (his fiancee and afternoon bartender)… but Dave was only there in spirit for the party, because in real life, he was suffering from a bronchial infection.

A little while later, Carlos showed up with cigars and music. Fireman Ted and Jimi D the chef also showed up and stayed for a beer. Throughout the night, bartenders would stop in and pay their respects. Todd, Pauly, Tad, Steve and Johnny all came by to say their final goodbyes.

Jeff from the sausage shop even supplied us with sausage and kraut (at a moderate discount from his normal rates), and as most of us tore into the sausage with toothpicks, Janet decided to go to Pasta Pomodoro (which we had protested for almost a whole year) and bring back some angel hair pasta with garlic. We avoided them until the bitter end, but when you drink, sometimes pasta is the only thing that you crave… and staying sober outweighed our personal vendetta with Pasta Pomodoro for one night, and one night only.

Toshi was the next to arrive, as well as Rachelle and her Mr. Marina boyfriend (who didn’t stay too long). Toshi, Carlos and I repaired to a quiet corner of the room and shared a quiet cigar as we reminisced about the last few years. Jocelyn and Paul were the next to arrive, followed by Shawn, who came from a softball game just to pay his respects.

The Speakeasy Crew (including Forest, Julia and Steve) were the last to arrive and they came in hungry from the Giants [baseball] game. Their suggestion to get a pizza to combat the White Lightning and Untouchable lager’s soporific effects was well received by the few of us who were remaining at that time.

At the end of the night, it was just Janet, Jocelyn, Paul and me packing up the chairs and cleaning up the used plastic cups… and then it was just Janet and me in a dark, empty hall. Then it was just the two of us in a dark, empty apartment.

May 22 – Goodbye

Since Ian didn’t have a chance to stop by the night before, we decided to make a quick 9pm trip to the bar to say goodbye. I didn’t ever think that going to the Toronado one last time would have such an effect on me, but when we finished our last pints, I would have given anything to change my mind and stay in San Francisco. I left the bar with tears in my eyes.

For the last four years, aside from Janet, the Toronado has been the one constant in my life. It was where I went to relax, to hang out with my friends, and at times to be alone. Now it’s gone… and there’ll never be anything like it ever again.

Posted in The Barfly Chronicles.

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