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Rocket Surgery

Bars close at 2am in California. Even after a year and a half in the Golden State, I am still not use to it. Through the hazy beer glass called nostalgia, I remember those drinking nights in New York when the bar closed at 4am. Most people usually cleared out around 2:30 or 3am, so the 4am closing was a quiet, civilized affair. Out here at 2am, too many people are still going, so the 2am closing becomes something like the last round up only in reverse---run free cows! Run free!

I was recently in a California bar near closing time. I was hanging out with some friends in the smokers alley behind the bar. Even though I don't smoke, I like the deep philosophical conversation that sometimes comes out of people sucking on nicotine.

Also in the alley was a perky 21 year old brunette girl with a voice that was breaking glass. She had a lot of rum and coke in her. She was definitely obnoxious but harmless and somewhat entertaining. I think California has mellowed me. I did not want to pound her personality into the floor. No, I was slightly amused.

The bartenderess came back and very firmly ordered all of us to finish up and get out, but we were all entranced with rum and coke girl. She was like Courtney Love without the heavy make-up and the blonde hair and the backup band. We weren't sure when she was going to fall in flames but we had to watch her euphoric descent into some other place.

There were also 3 or 4 boys circling her. It was the end of the night, and they had the possible potential of getting lucky---or did they? They had a hard enough time trying to keep her volume down. They encouraged her to use ‘inside voice' even though we were outside.

I drank down the last of ice cubs. Ugh. Why did I do that? They were ice cubes mixed with flat tonic and laced with a hint of gin. My once very nice drink was now kind of yuck. It was time to go. But then, Rum and Coke said something that made everyone around her go quiet.

"It's not rocket surgery." She said out loud. My friends and I went silent. Then, one of her suitors came up with the perfect next line.

"What is?" He said.

I believe the proper cliches are: It's not rocket science or it's not brain surgery. They're another way of saying something is not so hard and does not require a lot of brain power. But rocket surgery. Rocket surgery. Does Rum and Coke realize what she did? She took two cliches and created something close to poetry. She might have added a new phrase to the English lexicon. Can't decide if its not brain surgery or rocket science? Make it rocket surgery (brain science doesn't have the same twist). I am already adopting it into my regular vocabulary.

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