Best Enforcer

1205 U St NW, Washington, DC 20009, (202) 462-2640
Photograph by Darrow Montgomery

The first thing people usually mention about the Saloon are the rules. This usually annoys owner and bartender Kamal “Commy” Jahanbein. Yes, you must order your beer before your food. Yes, you must be willing to share your table. But, Commy insists, the rules don’t exist so he can gloat in punishing customers. The rules exist for the increased happiness of the customer, to promote conversation.

I must confess to having transgressed one of the Saloon’s unwritten rules of order and suffered Commy’s wrath as a result. And I can tell you now he’s right. Commy seems to like me these days; maybe he doesn’t remember this story.

It was last October, and a friend and I went to the Saloon to meet up with a guy I was sorta-kinda getting to know. We’d just come from a wedding, and I was perhaps a little tipsy, but, more important, I was wearing my tipsiest pair of heels. I put one foot on the first step down the Saloon’s staircase and landed smack on my face on the concrete landing below. My friend and I stumbled in to a room full of gaping faces. I plopped down in a chair, in shock, a bruise blooming on my eye. Up came Commy, who said, “You know I can’t serve you.” My friend’s response was something like, “Fuck you.” After a brief debate from which I tried to recuse myself, we left. My guy followed far behind, trying to put as much distance between us as possible. Then he and my friend got into a screaming fight about Commy’s rules.

Anyway, it’s a good thing I left. The guy was not meant to be. A month later, back at the bar, I met someone who was. He claims he was in the audience the night of my little performance. I’m glad we didn’t get formally introduced until my shiner had faded.

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