Nowhere to hide!

Greetings, lovable barflies, and I use that term most respectfully, for I refer to you loyal readers out there who “fly” each week through cyberspace to visit my “bar”. You’re my imaginary customers in this imaginary tavern who, unlike in the stereotypical dynamic where the patrons unload their problems to their friendly bartender, in this case agree to listen to what’s ailing me. So, all that said and the agreement again in place, here’s what your friendly bartender wants to unload.

One of the near foolproof protections out there from unwanted company is that wonderful little invention they call the phone. It can be a buffer, a diversion, and in some cases a valuable prop in a one-act play. Here’s what I mean.

If you work in an office and you don’t want to deal with some pain in the ass, all you have to do is ask your assistant to hold all your calls until further notice. Bingo… wall of protection! Or if you’re not in your office and you do get connected accidentally to someone who happens to catch you on your cell phone, all you have to  say is,  “My phone’s breaking up, I’ll get back to you.” Bingo… another wall of protection! Or if you see someone approaching you on foot, someone you definitely do not want to see or to talk to, you can whip out that same trusty cell phone… that prop to be used in the one-act… and pretend you’ve just gotten an urgent call and without having to say a word you put a regretful expression on you face, an “I’ve got to take this” expression on your face, then dart across the street with all the urgency of an EMT off to save a life. Bingo, bango… major wall of protection.

Ah, but if you happen to be your friendly bartender and someone wants to come into the bar for a chat, there is nothing to provide any buffer… just a two-foot slab of mahogany the very purpose of which is to connect him to each and all comers. Yes, anyone can waltz into his life on a night, unless they’ve previously been barred, and he’s no other choice but to smile and feign a welcome. That person could be a creditor, a discreditor (one who argues every point), a blowhard or even a “fatal attraction”. And even if he does have a phone at his disposal he’ll eventually have to hang up and go and engage. For unlike that person in the office who has a secretary to run interference, YFB has no blockers to buffer the occasion. And those customers he’ll be discussing today, and from whom there is no protection, are those dreaded characters we’ll call the Non-Stop Talkers.

Now some Non-Stop Talkers (let’s call them NST’s) come into the bar completely sober but are simply blast furnaces by nature, and a question as innocent as, “Do you have the time?” could launch them into a dissertation on the Space-Time Continuum. And other otherwise normal human beings become dreaded NST’s when after one or two sips of their drink of choice they quickly become lost in an explosion of verbal fireworks. The sauce make ’em do it! And sober or not here are a few NST’s.

The “No because…”: This is the NST who’s managed to master that convenient bridge… not the bridge to somewhere but the bridge from nowhere… that begins with the words, “No because…” which deftly draw you in as though you’re picking up from where you left off when in fact you’ve never been.  It’s effective, it’s heinous, and outside of your friendly bartender being downright rude in his response to it, (a complete impossibility as you well know) he’s powerless in avoiding the onslaught those two words promise. For having said nothing but what he’d uttered in ordering his drink, here’s how this NST slyly kicks off his conversation.  “No because… it’s kinda funny, the minute I left the house this morning I…” hitting the ground running, as though “No because…” picks up where we’d just left off and off he goes from there to fucking Hong Kong. He just can’t help it. And, having learned his lesson well from that history of glazed-over eyes he’s created in his life, he’s now a master of that two word diversion… that “Where-were-we-before-we-were-never-cut-off?” thing. Yes, if someone begins a conversation with the words “No because…” they’ll not be ending it any time soon just because. And you can bank on it.

The one step forward, two steps back: These are the obsessive NST’s who simply can’t keep their stories moving forward. They’re a little harder to explain so I’ll use as an example a former customer of that ilk. She was a lovely person I have to admit, and someone I genuinely liked, but she just couldn’t avoid throwing her stories into reverse. And she usually caught me busy as hell which made me feel as though chained to a Gatling Gun whose words if bullets could bring down a thousand-man army. So for the purposes of this re-enactment I’ll call this woman Connie, and here is a typical Connie conversation. “Geez, did you happen to see Maura? I hope I’m not too late, I was supposed to meet her after she got done shopping. (One step forward.) Well, at least she said she was going shopping but with her you never know, maybe she took in a movie or something like that. ” (One step back.) But hey, she didn’t actually say she’d actually meet me like at seven on the dot or something, she just said she might drop by if she got the chance. (Two steps back.) But I think she’ll probably stop by though, (One step forward.) but a lot of times she goes with the wind and does what the hell she wants. (One step back.) Like the time we were supposed to have lunch at P.J. Clarke’s… well, maybe it wasn’t lunch and maybe it wasn’t P.J.Clarke’s because I remember she had a situation there once and boycotted the place for a while,” (Two steps back.) and on and fucking on it fucking goes!!! Connie would start with, “Geez… am I late?” and end up taking me back to what she had for breakfast… and all this before she ordered her first drink. God bless you, dear old Connie, but Jesus, Mary and Joseph kick it into gear!

The quiet talker: These NST’s grab you and hold you by leaning in and motioning with their heads to come close. Then they talk in a low conspiratorial tone as if what they have to say could save the world. Their words are important, they want you to believe, so how dare you not give a listen, even though they might be discussing a Bruce Willis movie. It’s really quite amazing.  And even after you’re forced to say, “Excuse me, I didn’t hear you,” they’ll repeat what they said with the exact same lack of volume. And then finally, when you start to pull away as if to signal to this guy, “How about wrapping this up, Buddy,” he’ll tug your sleeve and and lean in even closer. This NST wins on style points, but he still makes you want to dive through a plate glass window!

The coke lover and I don’t mean Coca Cola: These NST’s are rarer these days, whether due to the economy or the fact that they’ve seen the light, but they’re still out there and just as nuts as ever. And what makes their rants even worse than the rest is that they not only talk your head off and everyone’s around them, but everything they say is cranked up ten decibels louder. Chill out, guys, believe me we can hear you.

And of course there are other NST’s to discuss which I promise to do down the road, but we’ll leave it for now in the interest of “space and time”. Thank you for visiting, as always, dear reader, but I have to go now and take this incoming call.

(Hello? Hello? My phone’s breaking up, I’ll call you back!)

Over and out from Bar-land… see ya’ next week-end!

22 Responses to “Nowhere to hide!”

  1. 1 physiobabe April 5, 2009 at 6:23 am

    Ah, Sunday morning, warm and cozy, feelin’ all sexy, with my favorite barman. Love ya for making my day!

  2. 2 scribbler50 April 5, 2009 at 6:55 am

    And love ya’ for saying what you said, Physiobabe. Now quit hogging all the covers!

  3. 3 Isis the Scientist April 5, 2009 at 7:41 am

    HA HA HA, Scribbler. Looks like you found your internet fatal attraction there.

  4. 4 scribbler50 April 5, 2009 at 8:50 am

    Do I detect a tinge of jealousy, dear Isis, for the goddess to speak such words? Why it was just a little cyber-shack-up humor, ya’ know. But if it’ll make you feel any better, I’ll be over in a flash for our weekly Sunday coffee.

  5. 5 Donna B. April 5, 2009 at 9:03 am

    Looks like you’re gonna be busy today, Scribbler. Lucky for you, I prefer afternoon coffee.

  6. 6 scribbler50 April 5, 2009 at 9:09 am

    No sweat, Donna, there’s plenty to go around. I’ll be over somewhere between one and two o’clock. (You devil, you!)

  7. 7 Anonymoustache April 5, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    Good post as always, Scrib50. Though I must say the end seemed a bit phoney!

  8. 8 Comrade PhysioProf April 5, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    Dude, I was in the shower! I swear!


  9. 9 scribbler50 April 5, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    There you go with the puns again. Didn’t we “get thee to a punnery” last Week?

  10. 10 Donna B. April 6, 2009 at 1:16 am

    I don’t want to sound like a barfly here, but I’ve seen all those people and I’m not even a bartender. I people-watch and eavesdrop and I gotta tell ya, I hate the quiet talker.

  11. 11 d-a-p April 6, 2009 at 11:24 am

    now i realize why i spent so much time in bars…in the old days…i would secretly mock these people as i quietly sat there and became one of them…so if you’ll just lean over close..i’ll tell you the one about the parrot that went into the bar…
    great story as always…

  12. 12 chezjake April 6, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    I have an old friend and very good drinking buddy who typifies another type of NST, which I’ll call “Rerun.” While Bill is still reasonably sober, he’s a very good conversationalist on multiple topics and also a very good storyteller about events in his rather adventurous past.

    The problem is that Bill knows he’s a good storyteller and knows which ones are his best yarns, and as soon as he’s had more than a few, he goes into reruns, unable to remember that most folks have heard the stories multiple times in the past. That’s when it’s time to take Bill home.

  13. 13 scribbler50 April 6, 2009 at 1:33 pm

    Thanks, chezjake, I like that one. The Rerun is a definite NST type. In fact, come to think of it, I might be guilty myself of being a Rerun now and then when on your side of the bar. Yikes!

  14. 14 leigh April 7, 2009 at 9:24 pm

    i can never keep up with the one step forward, two steps back type. i don’t know if they can, either…

  15. 15 scribbler50 April 7, 2009 at 11:25 pm

    I don’t even try to keep up, I just wait to see an inhale and try to make my escape. And if I can’t get away, I react to the last two or three words.

  16. 16 D April 8, 2009 at 10:36 am

    I hate to admit it, but I am a talker when I drink. Maybe not a NST, but definitely – uh – loquacious after a couple. You’ll be glad to know that I don’t glom my yammering self onto bartenders. I save that for the unfortunate people I came in with.

    Oh, and it’s not My phone’s breaking up!, ’cause no one believes that one any longer. It’s My battery is about to die, can I call you later?

  17. 17 scicurious April 10, 2009 at 10:12 am

    We have a quiet-talker in our department. He always “whispers” to try and keep his voice down, for some reason. Perhaps he wants to be mysterious. But WHY must these people ALSO always have halitosis and a certain amount of body odor? And why do you have to invade my personal space? What if I had garlic for lunch and I don’t have gum? HUH?!

  18. 18 scribbler50 April 10, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    D: It’s nice that you spare us your loquacious yammering, but it must not be too bad or else your friends wouldn’t still go out drinking with you. So “cheers and yammer on”!

    Scicurious: It’s funny you mention halitosis because I was going to add that in my blog, something like… and they not only pull you in closer but they often have breath as bad as their banter… but for some reason I didn’t. Thanks for saying what I should’ve.

  19. 19 scribbler50 April 11, 2009 at 10:28 am

    Just for the record and not that anyone cares… I made a mistake in composing the above blog which I just now noticed and edited a whole week later. I had used the word “Howitzer” in describing Connie’s rap which I now realize should’ve been the word “Gatling Gun”. Howitzers fire cannonballs, slowly and one at a time… Connie fires rat-a-tat-tat machine gun bullets! What caused the light to go off lo these many days later? I just saw a Howitzer doing its thing on the History Channel and (quick as I am on the uptake) realized immediately the error of my blogging ways.

  20. 20 Abel Pharmboy April 12, 2009 at 8:40 am

    Converse to the demise of the coked-up patron as a casualty of the economy, my new NST is the dude I have to sit next to in the airport bar who comments on everything I’m writing on my laptop.

    In Miami, I sat down around 2 pm at the only stool left next to a guy who the barmaid had said was drinking since 9 am (that’s quite a flight delay on a brilliantly clear day). When it was clear that his incessant, slurred, multisyllabic ramblings would keep me from doing any work and the crowd was such that I couldn’t move to another station, I started writing a blog post. The dude had to comment on everything – how the blogging software works, what ScienceBlogs is, what I do for a living IRL – up to and including proofing the final published post where he sees my George Aldridge-crafted avatar – “that really looks like you; you weren’t shitting me about this blog thing.” No, I just have phantom blog software to make it look like I’m doing something rather than talking to your drunk ass.

    If I had my druthers, and had seen your post beforehand, I’d have titled the post, “The NST I’m Sitting Beside in the Miami Airport.”

  21. 21 scribbler50 April 12, 2009 at 9:06 am

    Abel, you’re recounting is hilarious but I’m sure the ordeal was a royal pain for you. Welcome to my world!!!

  22. 22 Pieter B April 14, 2009 at 11:52 am

    So why were they still serving an obvious drunk? I don’t tend bar full time, but I work RenFaires serving ale, and I will not serve a drunk.

    “It’s OK, I’m not driving!”

    ‘Tis your walking that concerns me, good sir.”

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