When most of us are winding down, Bob Mater is just starting to crank it up. His stage is the bar at Timberlake's, an eating and drinking establishment of Connecticut Avenue.
Bob looks like a bartender: neatly pressed shirt, perfectly placed bow tie, a brown apron that matches the colors of the room. Yet Bob is more of an entertainer than a mixer of drinks.
Bob knows how to work a crowd. His humor can be pungent--"Hey, does that tie come with batteries?"--but the regulars love him, and he can make a stranger feel right at home with the pull of a tap. Willie, who can be found at the Timberlake's bar many a night, tells the blond to his right, "Bob's a real fine chap." She agrees, "Fer sure."
As Frank Sinatra croons on the jukebox, Bob shakes up a gin and tonic and picks up the pace, telling one customer: "It's okay, we trust you even in that shirt." He tosses an empty Heinken bottle into the air for one final flip before it crashes with a clatter into the trash bin.
A man in tight red pajamas bounds in the door. "Hi there!" He seems to know everyone--absolutely everyone. He stops to talk to a woman who says she wants world peace and to make every man happy.
Bob hollers to his audience, "It's shooter time, it's shooter time!" He pours a pinkish liquid into shot glasses lined up on the wood bar.
"What are they called?" someone asks.
"Sweettarts, rabbit face! Yum, yum, yum, yum."
A crumpled "bev nap" comes flying through the air. "Oh excuse me Bob-- thought you were the trash can!" says a woman at the end of the bar. Is this maddness catching?
"Hey how are ya, you little devilette?" he says to a familiar face. "Haven't seen ya in awhile! It's shooter time, it's shooter time!" He has the crowd swaying, many of them using each other for balance. The sound of an overwrought jukebox, drinkers yelling and laughter keep him pumped up. The crowd is frenzied, but not violent. People are moving too much to focus on them.
A woman who once was reflected in the chrome cash register as she sat at the bar, has disappeared, swept into the sea of reeling revelers. Bob is firmly planted in the hull of the bar, where he will be tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after that.