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The Enabler

January 31, 2008

On a rainy Thursday night, the Enabler drove down Santa Monica Boulevard in West L.A. searching for signs of life. This is a tough commodity in the badlands between Westwood and Santa Monica, but punishing weather called for the nearest drink we could get our mittens around. Suddenly an old-school neon sign announcing the gift of Del's Saloon materialized out of a sagging strip mall. What lay behind the intimidating wooden door? A leather biker bar, a Latino speak-easy, a gay disco? It could be anything.

We should have expected a clean, well-lighted and vaguely fratty pool hall. But when in West L.A., you do as the West Angelenos do, so we ordered a nightcap of Hennessy (the Enabler is ever classy) and watched the low-key scene unfold.

A gray-haired gent in a turquoise sweat shirt ran game on a bored young brunet while a distant local's eyes wandered to the ironic nude oil painting above the bar. Golf on the TV, pork cracklins on the menu -- the Enabler could have stayed in our hometown for this.

But there's something comforting about a bar you know you'll never return to. It's a one-night stand with a consequence-free conclusion. The Enabler's had plenty of the former and was happy to finally end a night with the latter.

12238 Santa Monica Blvd. (310) 207-1978

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-- theguide@latimes.com

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