I remember my saying to a friend one night as she sat on the corner stool nursing her wine, “Ya’ know, it’s almost impossible to do what I’m about to tell you. At least for me.”
“What’s impossible?” she said, her brow beginning to knit, wondering what new mountain I was thinking of climbing. Apparently without my pitons, goggles or lip balm.
“Okay,” I said, “here’s the deal. Tonight in the cab on my way to work, and I’ve done this a few times before, I decided to make a pact with myself to not say anything negative about a customer. No matter what. To let people be who they are and not comment. Which isn’t the easiest thing in the world given the fact that I work in a god damn bar. Where we serve booze!”
“Jesus, what brought this on?” she asked.
“Nothing in particular. And I’m not trying to claim freaking Gandhi here, I just thought I’d try it for a night and see what happens. You know, like they say in the land of metaphysics, send out the positive vibes and it all comes back to you.”
“But were you ever successful in the past,” she asked, “on those nights when you tried this before? Did you ever get through a night without… “
“Aw, for Christ almighty sakes,” I interrupted, almost as if on cue, “look who the hell just walked in the door? Damn I’m not in the mood for this happy horseshit!” And just like that my pact was broken, my bartender’s guide to Nirvana, which lasted all of five ridiculous minutes. Some Gandhi, eh?
Now before I proceed to describe this guy and shatter my new “inner peace”, let me just say that this guy’s not really that bad. As a person I mean. For he’s generous, he loves to have a good time (boy does he love a good time!), when he’s sober he’s pretty much well behaved, but when blitzed which is almost all of the time his act wears about as thin as a blade of grass. No, make that an eyelash. Because he’s definitely high freaking maintenance as you shall see…
“Hey,” he’ll shout at the top of his lungs, the moment he walks in the room, “let’s get this joint hopping, whaddaya’ say, gang? What’s the matter with you people? How come no one’s dancin’, get up and dance! What’s wrong with you people?” (There’s nothing wrong with these people, we’re not a dance place!) Then he’ll snap his fingers and bounce his shoulders and start to dance in place, much like a half-assed lounge act you’d see in a movie. And when he doesn’t get a response to this “act’, which is almost every time, he’ll shout down the bar to me, “Where’s my drink, Sir?” Pronounced, “S-u-h!”
Then I’ll pour him a Dewar’s and soda, lean in and tell him not to shout down the bar… a reprimand he always obeys… then he’s back on his quest to show off his snappy steps. Because dancing really is his social M.O. and why he comes to our bar, to show anyone who’s watching he can still do the jitterbug. As if he’s the show. And after moving from table to table all night like a door-to-door salesman trying to get his foot in the door, he’ll eventually find a willing partner and get his feet on the floor. Then it’s Katie bar the door. He’s boogaloo fucking Bo Jangles on a mission from hell.
The first time I actually caught this “act” I couldn’t believe my eyes, or that someone could be this cliche’ on so many levels. He was as dazzling as he was loud and equally as corny! Because without exaggeration, this guy’s a character right out of “Mad Men” (and not the cool Don Draper) clinging to some kind of suit-and-tie hipness, trying to be Sinatra but coming off Soupy Sales. Meaning, if you put this guy in a movie, or more to the point on the actual “Mad Men” to depict the kind of character I’ve just described… the “daddio” taking his Des Moines clients to the Playboy Club… the director would pull him aside and say, “I kinda’ see where you’re going but you’ve got to tame it down, man. That’s a cartoon.” And a cartoon indeed it is, it’s the “Tom and Jerry Show”. This guy is Tom, the leering cat, out on the prowl for every young Jerry in a skirt.
Now can he dance, which is his calling card? Yeah, but not well. For he jitterbugs not to the beat but to show off his moves. Which are all over the place. But the fact that he does it at all at his age, and with such unbounded energy, I’ll tip my hat and give him four stars for the effort. But that’s it. All the rest I’m sorry to say is bullshit. Barland bullshit!!
Bullshit like shrieking a two fingered whistle following every song, a whistle that if done in Alaska could bring down an avalanche. Bullshit like losing his drink all night long having set on a table to dance, then asking accusatorily what I did with it. Bullshit like having to be rescued by the waiter after goading some guys and calling them “lame” for not getting up and dancing with him and their dates. Bullshit like telling him to keep on moving when approaching a woman who’s come to the bar to see me. Bullshit like… well, you get the picture… he’s a “category four” who blows in the door and anyone caught in his path gets his evening uprooted. With a blast of hot air. And jut as an added bonus to this act, to round out his evening’s performance, he requests, upon exiting, a dose of Sinatra’s “My Way”. How’s that for cliche’? But like I said before he’s also a pretty good guy. Or he’d be gone. You just have to be in the mood for this act which is never. End of story!
“S-o-o-o-o,” said my friend, after I served Bo Jangles his first and returned to her and her wine at the end of the bar, “any comments you might want to share at this time? Or are you sticking to your pact of not being negative tonight?” She was smiling of course and waiting for one of my rants.
“No comment,” I said, smiling back, “but maybe I’ll write about it.”
Which I guess I have.
See you next week-end, dear reader, have yourself a good one.
Ommmm. Ommmm. Ommmm!