"After that, all we wanted was to get the hell back," said Jenny. "So here we are, trying to figure out what to do next in this damned economy."

"Indeed, the Roaring '20s, this isn't," I said wryly.

"You need to save money in times like this," Jenny advised. "We've got pictures of us in bars all over the place — drinking, having a good time, spending money on drinks every night of the week. No doubt it was fun; just wish I could remember it." She laughed.

Just then, Nicole interrupted. "Sorry, did you want another martini?"

Of course I did. I ordered the White Chocolate, having exhausted my Fitzgerald-related options.

"They're only $5," I said sheepishly.

More Martinis (can you ever have enough?): "Recommend another martini," Beard commanded Nicole.

"The White Chocolate is good, the Caramel Apple is tasty — " she began. I nodded in assent, but Beard waved her off.

"A manly drink," he insisted. I think it was just to impress Nicole's cleavage. She brought him a whiskey-infused Manhattan, and then he quickly ordered another Key Lime martini, this time sharing none of it.

The people at the next table were an interesting assortment of folk: a guy in a fedora, a couple who couldn't stop cuddling, and a dude in a pressed shirt with a loud booming voice. I'd overheard one of them order an Alka-Seltzer from the waitress, the others discussing the Chemical Brothers, and someone say "When my body starts acting up, I punish it" just before he took a long swig from his beer.

The guy who'd ordered the Alka-Seltzer introduced me to everyone at the table: his wife, dark-eyed and very quiet; his boyfriend, Fedora-hat (yes, there was some Gatsby-style romantic intrigue going on) ; and Phil — just a friend. ("We're better friends than lovers," Phil said.)

"Has anyone read the Great Gatsby?" I asked. The evening was drawing to a close, and I wanted a good hearty literature discussion.

The awkward pause was palpable. Wait, I thought to myself. Maybe I'm drunk. No one wants to talk literature with an inebriated nightlife columnist who's been channeling Zelda Fitzgerald for most of her life. I excused myself.

Now, where was Nicole and her ample cleavage? I told Beard I was going to need another Fitzgerald martini — extra sour. " 'So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past,' " Beard quoted and reached for the menu.

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