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!