You’re an idiot.
Maybe you know it, maybe you don’t. Maybe you’ve heard it from dozens of people, but you were kinda drunk at the time, so who knows what they really meant. What we do know is tonight is amateur night, and you’re that guy. Again. You don’t know how to talk to people, yet you can’t shut up. You’re incredibly high-maintenance, yet don’t tip worth shit. You can’t wait your turn, and you can’t see that the person most essential to your inebriation thinks you suck and should be destroyed. When everyone around you is getting drunk and you’re getting nothing, it’s because you should have stayed home. Instead, you showed up at a bar and started in with what bartenders call No-Drink-Deserving Bullshit Behavior. I’m going to lay out exactly where you went wrong, crime by crime. And in the spirit of fairness, I’ve asked Tony Patch–the man who most embodies every evil I’m about to indict–to offer a counterpoint that will undoubtedly corroborate all the mean shit I’ve ever said about the evil bastard.
POINT: A beer and a barstool do not equate the right to spew every goddamn silly thing that pops up in that evil little mind of yours.
I’m the bartender and can’t leave the bar. You’re not, and you can and should, but won’t. Since most of the other customers split as soon as they get a whiff of your sparkling personality, you go to the one person who has to stay put. I’m in hell. It’s a slow night and all the interesting people are either at home or put their wagons in a circle way over by the pool table. What makes you think I want to hear about your broken-down car, your lame job or your crazy roommate who scribbles with crayons all over the walls? You mumble on continuously, meandering around the point into cul-de-sacs of boring detail. When I try to escape to the other end of the bar to wash the one dirty glass, you follow me and blabber on with the story that, in my mind, should be titled, “Why I Need to Be Shot in the Face Right Now.” If the bar is empty and all you have to spew is inane rambling, just order a drink, go into the corner and talk to the wall. Bang your head against it once or twice while you’re there. It can only help.
COUNTERPOINT: You do know you work in a bar, right?
If you worked in an office or factory you wouldn’t have to worry about people coming in off the street to hassle you. But guess what? You chose to work in a bona fide social center, a bar, and do you know what happens in bars? People drink, and when they drink they get talkative. It’s one of the great things about alcohol. Okay, so I might get a little loaded and spout off some random bullshit sometimes—who doesn’t? You’ve never mouthed off about things that don’t make a goddamn bit of sense? If you haven’t, congratulations, you’re a freaking robot. Look, we have jobs too. And we hate them, and bars are where we go to forget about them. And it’s your job to help us because you’re a bartender. You knew exactly what you were getting into, so it’s too late to pull your apron over you head and wail that you want to be left alone. Go work in a lighthouse if that’s your gig. All that said, I’ll try in the future to talk only about things that interest you—because it’s all about you—like kicking puppies and shoving old ladies under trains. Boom!
POINT: If someone deserves it, they will get a free drink. You won’t be getting any free drinks.
Because you are a still a fucking child and have never even come close to joining the Society of Fucking Grown Ups, you think everyone owes you a present on your birthday, including bars. While some may actually accommodate you with a liquid pacifier just to shut your cry-baby mouth, most bartenders find it rude, annoying and an indication of a future problem customer. You stroll up, slap your hand on the wood and shrill, “Hey, dude—it’s my birthday! Gimme a shot!” A shot from a Remington 12 gauge maybe. And if you are somehow able to wheedle your precious freebie, you never say thanks, you fail to tip, and you open your big fat yapper again. “Hey, everyone, I just got a free shot!” Now all the assholes in the joint will hound the bartender for their free birthday shots because it turns out all shitheels present were born on the exact same day. The other scenario that might happen, the one I like to call The Righteous Scenario of Sweet, Sweet Justice, is when the bartender tells you to stuff it. You won’t leave immediately, bawling like a baby, because that would reveal you to all as the bawl-baby you truly are. Then, as soon as he lays a free shot on someone who is a good tipper, a close friend or a solid regular (it goes on the comp tab or comes out of his pocket) you whine, “Heeeeey. How come you gave him a free shot? How come not me, the precious baby?” Well, here’s why: It’s because you’re a moron who deserves a Wedgie and an Ice Pick in the Ear. Yes, those are the names of shots, but not when you’re around.
COUNTERPOINT: Throw away tradition and you’ve thrown away your soul.
Bars have always bought shots on your birthday. That’s been going on forever. That’s probably why everyone gets drunk on Christmas, because Jesus always got loaded for free on his birthday. And now, you tightwad bastards want to quash that wonderful tradition? Can I ask why? Is it just to be a dick? Is it because your robot brain can’t grasp the idea of celebrating the day of your birth because you were never born like regular humans?
And yeah, I see you hooking up your smirky little clique with free drinks while the rest of us, those too dignified to continually kiss your ass, must languish in the vast desert of your selfish cruelty.
And as far as tips—maybe I’d tip better if you gave out more free shots. Why do we have to go first? Why don’t you take the initiative and get the beautiful wheel spinning? Why is it always the customer who must display generosity first?
Finally, if you need me to tell you how to make a Wedgie and an Ice Pick in the Ear, just put that stupefied look on your face. I’ll chime right in. No charge.
POINT: Wait your goddamn turn.
Did you ever see that movie called The Asshole Who Would Not Shut Up? It was shot in one night. All they had to do was follow you from bar to bar with a camera. “YO, BARKEEP, I NEED A FUCKIN’ DRINK, CANTCHA SEE ME SNAPPING MY FINGERS?” is the only line you bothered to memorize. You demand attention because you think you’re the most important asshole in the world and all the customers patiently waiting their turn are the little people who deserve to be stepped on.
Well—not on my watch, motherfucker. The more you open your fat mouth the less booze will find its way into it. Don’t be surprised if you start getting the feeling you’re the lead in The Invisible Man. That you’re absolutely the last person to get served every fucking time. In a perfect world, it would be legal for the bartender to fastball a pint glass at your face, and maybe even the pint would get stuck in your mouth and you couldn’t get it out, ever.
That would be so fucking sweet.
COUNTERPOINT: I’m just trying to get a drink–how should I know whose turn it is? That’s your job.
I’m really excited about that fine product you’re pushing, so yeah, I’m going to gesticulate and wave and holler like a pre-teen at a boy band concert. Do you ever see that crowd take turns to yell and cheer and weep? Of course not.
Look, I don’t know whose turn it is. I just know I want it to be my turn, very badly, so I’m going to show some natural enthusiasm. As for snapping my fingers—back in the day, in beatnik times, snapping fingers was a form of clapping. Did you know that? Do you get it? I’m clapping at you for doing such an awesome job!
Snap! Snap! Snap!
Snap! Snap! Snap!
Dontcha hear me snap-clappin’ for ya?
Snap! Snap! Snap!
POINT: Everyone’s an expert. Except you. You’re an evil fucking crow.
Pompous pricks like you always think you know everything about automotive repair, carpentry, filmmaking, sailing, baseball and, of course, bartending. Whether it’s a Martini, a French Kamikaze or just a Screwdriver, you’ve got to open your mouth. You turn to anyone who’s unfortunate enough to be within earshot and announce what the bartender is making and why he’s doing it wrong. Most of the time, like all experts, you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about: “Is that a Screwdriver you’re making? Seems to me you put a tad too much whiskey in it. And where’s the grapefruit wedge?”
Once you’ve been publicly humiliated by a barkeep who’s had enough of your shit, you take it to the next level. You buy a cocktail book and memorize what’s in a Negroni, a Gin Fizz, a Singapore Sling and so on. You return to haunt the righteous soul who put you in your place. You perch on your stool like a vengeful crow and wait, mouth twisted into a smirk, fingers twitching, eyes darting about, ears perked, running those memorized recipes through that squeaky little mind. The minute a tourist orders a Mississippi-Style Kumquat Daiquiri with a Double Twist, and the bartender pauses to reflect for just a second, you blurt out the recipe like an undisciplined second-grader. If you manage to be served there ever again you had better check your drink for something floating in it that resembles your recently-removed pineal gland.
COUNTERPOINT: I was just trying to help a brother out.
It filled my heart with sorrow every time some schmuck had the nerve to order a drink that didn’t have both ingredients in its name. Your shame was my shame. I’d see you all frozen up, like a robot with a jammed sprocket, and it fucking hurt me, man. It’s true I’ve recently developed an interest in mixology. I did that for my own self-improvement, but also, yes, because of you. If your pal comes down with some weird disease, you naturally feel the desire to research that disease, so you can identify with and help him so he can stop screwing up people’s drinks.
Did you know the pineal gland is a pea-sized, tree-shaped mass of tissue located in the epithalamus, and that, by secreting melatonin, regulates our sleep patterns? And that noted philosopher René Descartes thought it was where the soul resides? Did you know that? I think that if you did, you wouldn’t be so cavalier about putting them in cocktails. That said, if you were to make a pineal gland-based cocktail, I would suggest a fragrant gin, like Boodles (or Peach Street’s Jackelope if you want to locally source!) paired up with half as much Benedictine liqueur, with maybe just a nudge of sparkling water (Perrier, s’il vous plaît!). If you don’t feel like muddling the gland, just spear it with a toothpick (blue spruce adds a giddy tang!) and treat it as a garnish.
POINT: If snitches get stitches then commence kicking your own ass.
Dealing with villains like you all the time can tempt a bartender to hate all humanity. A good bartender will fight through this natural inclination and give every new face the same gregarious greeting: “Hello! How are you doing tonight?” You, drunk and stupid, will always shout back: “Aw sheeit, maaaan, I’m fuckin’ waaaaaaasted!” Whether enforced or not, it is illegal for a bartender to serve any person who is visibly intoxicated. If you weren’t such a loudmouth, I may have given you the benefit of the doubt and a drink. Forget about it now, bub. You ratted yourself out.
Naturally, you’ll throw a tantrum like a spoiled five-year-old who threw his cake in the dirt and is now bawling because he has no cake. No wonder the only woman you ever left a bar with you was the bull-dyke cop who dragged you out by your hair and kicked you in the balls while laughing. Remember that? That was fucking awesome!
COUNTERPOINT: If you were cool, you’d serve me anyway.
It’s just that . . . well . . . you’re not very cool. To me, getting drunk is an accomplishment. It means I reached the objective I set out for. I climbed the peak and now that I’m on top, looking down at all that splendor, you’re going to hiss at me to be quiet? You’re going to tell me I can’t pump my arm and let out a loud yawp or two to jolt those bastards halfway up the hill? What kind of monster are you? Must we all put our hearts in cages and our tongues in clamps just so you goddamn androids don’t get your circuits all in a bunch? Must we goosestep down your straight yellow line all the time?
And about that cop? Well, I guess I learned a powerful lesson that night. And you know what? I’m a better man for it. Waaaaaaaay better. I just wish something like that would happen to you, so you can get way better too.
POINT: Just because a woman is sitting in a bar doesn’t mean you have the gold-plated right to hit on her.
Many bartenders have wives or girlfriends who work day jobs. Sometimes the only way we get to see each other and catch up on things is when she visits the bar. So here’s a hint: when the bartender leans in and talks to her in a sincere tone while holding her hand and then kisses her, stay the fuck away. You should stay the fuck away anyhow because, let’s face it, pal, she’s way the hell out of your league. Yet, the minute I turn my back to ring in a sale or help a customer, you sleaze on over with a line so lame it wouldn’t get a millionaire laid in a whorehouse. When that doesn’t get her attention, you go in for the ever-so-smooth placing of your filthy, wretched paw on her shoulder or thigh.
Almost every bar has some kind of deadly bludgeoning weapon in easy reach of the bartender. It is there for precisely this occasion. Someday you’re going to do that to a lady and you’re going to get your goddamn brains bashed in. And the whole bar will clap uproariously then form a solemn pact to dismember and hide your body. Happens all the time.
COUNTERPOINT: Hesitation is the enemy of romantic love–so why you gotta cockblock me, bro?
First, that was totally cold, dude. Murder by bludgeon isn’t funny, never has been. Second, I think you’re totally mistaking me for somebody else. I don’t hit on dude’s chicks unless they’re not treating their sweet lady right. And if I did—well, shit. Bars are where people meet. If it wasn’t for bars, half the people on the planet wouldn’t be here. So, okay, I’ll back off your babe. I just thought she was giving me The Look. You know, that look that says, “I sure wish someone would treat me right.” So my heart was full of love. Excuse the fuck out of me.
All that said? No one’s asking you to be the house pimp. But you also shouldn’t be a schoolmarm overly-interested in crushing everyone’s sweet love groove thang.
POINT: Let’s make a deal!
A bar is not a flea market. They don’t look even vaguely alike. Yet you, with your two crumpled dollar bills lost in different pockets and a two-second attention span imagines that they are one and the same. “How much for a beer?” you’ll ask. “It depends on what kind of beer,” says I. “Well, whaddaya got?” After I rattle off the beer selection, which is remarkably easy because the names of the beers are on all the taps standing tall right between us, dickheads like you inevitably pause, look up, blink twice and say, “What?” At this point I will leave and serve someone else. When I return, and I will because giving befuddled dummies a second chance is part of the Bartenders Code, I’ll see you fumbling with your pittance and pour our cheapest domestic. “I only got two bucks,” you’ll say, “is that enough?” If you’re lucky I’ll pay the 50 cents or dollar out of my pocket because I’m generous to a fault and want you to move along. But if I’m already grated down to my last nerve, you might end up wearing that beer for a hat. Here’s the other scenario that really pisses off the pour-man: You dally up to the wood and ask, “How much is a shot of whiskey?” “Three bucks.” “Can I get five of them for ten bucks?” The answer is No, motherfucker! Even the beer cart at the goddamn flea market has set prices that do not budge. Stop asking for free shit. Stop weaseling your way through life. The only thing a bartender is going to give a shitheel like you is the finger or maybe a knuckle sandwich.
COUNTERPOINT: Well, excuse the fuck out of me for not being Richie Rich, you heartless bastard.
Dude, all you have to do is say no. You don’t have to vomit hatred and cruelty all over me. Just say no. Then I’ll ask you again, just in case you changed your mind about being a dick. Then just say no again. I’ll walk to the door real slow and sad, like an unjustly whipped shaggy dog, put my hand on the door handle, then suddenly and dramatically turn my head to you with a silent plea for just the slightest spark of humanity in your robot heart.
Then just point at me with a mean finger and put on a big frownie face and shake your head no, once, twice, thrice.
That’s it. That’s all it takes.
POINT: Gee, I wonder if this money on the bar belongs to anybody?
On a busy night in every joint in town, there’s tip money lying on the bar near the mats that the bartender hasn’t gotten around to picking up. Why? Because he’s busy helping customers and his heart is full of trust. Believe you me though—he knows it’s there. Don’t think for a second he doesn’t intend to gather what he’s earned once there’s a break in the action. Then, because you’re an asshole, you slap your hand down on a tip that was already there and slide it forward just a bit more while pocketing all of your change. Hey, why not, right? There was already a tip there. Reuse, Recycle, righto? Wrongo, asshole. If you’re too cheap to tip, own up to it. Wear your shitheels proudly. And God forbid, you filthy swine, if you possess the sheer gall to slip someone else’s tip into your pocket. In the first case, you’re a scumbag who won’t be served again. In the second case, you’re a cocksucker who’s going to get his ass kicked. In both cases, you are a dirty thief. Every time you need a drink in Hell, all you’ll get is a steaming cup of red-hot lava. And, by God, you will be forced to drink it because I’ll be your fucking bartender. In Hell. For eternity.¸
COUNTERPOINT: That almost definitely wasn’t me.
Also? I like to keep my money on the bar, as a matter of trust, and sometimes all that money being thrown around gets mixed up. Sorry if I accidentally thought some of it was my pile. Seriously, I mean it.
And if we do happen to find ourselves in the same bar in Hell, and you need someone to tell you how to make that Red Hot Lava Cocktail, just point your big stupefied face in my direction. I’ll shout it right out. That’ll put you in solid with the boss.
By Luke Shmaltz, Bartender and Tony Patch, Drunk