Just when your friendly bartender thinks he has seen and heard it all… every tort and retort that could possibly run through Bar-land… someone comes along to broaden that body of bullshit. Like this guy whom I’ll call Evan in the following story.
A week ago Friday, on a night I happened to take off, my replacement was handling my shift in yeoman fashion. He told me a nice crowd had filtered in, they all were getting along, and especially the aforementioned Evan when this woman walked by. This woman was young (Evan is not), she was beautiful (Evan is not) and she was on her way to the ladies room which clearly he wasn’t. But when she returned and passed by the bar again Evan had succeeded in getting her to come say “hello”. Evan is equipped with a thick Irish brogue and a job in which he sells men’s clothing, both of which have gifted the man with a line of charming Blarney from here to Galway. Or at least enough to buy some woman a drink.
“Marty, me Lad,” he shouted, to Marty my valiant replacement, “would you make this fine young woman a Cosmopolitan? And put it on my tab if you would, my good man.” He was beaming (I’m told) as he said this, for he’d gotten his foot in the door of Sales 101.
“Yes, Miss?” Marty questioned, nodding his head towards the woman, making sure she’d accepted Evan’s offer. “Would you like a Cosmopolitan on our friend Evan here?”
“Sure,” she said, “why not?” So Marty made the drink and the two of them toasted. But then, after a few more minutes had passed and Evan had managed to get through Step Two of Sales 101… The Presentation… this sweet young lady broke through the pitch and cut off Step number Three which of course is The Closing. And she had every right to.
“Well, thank you for the drink,” she said, “and it was very nice to have met you but I’ve got to get back to my friends who are down there waiting for me.” Then she pointed to the two guys and gal at the other end of the bar. And if one breaks down that gender ratio which Evan immediately did, it seemed that this woman was the fourth in what appeared to be two couples. And that’s when the bullshit hit the proverbial fan.
“Marty!” Evan barked, “get over here, Lad, will ya’? Did you know this girl come in with some fookin’ guy?”
“No,” Marty replied, trying to diffuse what he could see now rumbling down the highway. “And I still don’t know that she did. I just know she’s here with three other people. Why?”
“Why? Fookin’ why yer’ askin’? The goddam girl played me for a fookin’ drink, that’s why. So take the drink off my tab and put it on theirs. Fook that!!!”
“Are you nuts? She didn’t play you, you played yourself. You ordered the drink, she drank the drink, it’s on your tab, it’s yours, case fucking closed!”
“Aww no, nothin’s fookin’ closed, Lad, unless you want me to close out me tab for good.”
“And what is that supposed to mean?”
“It means I’m never comin’ back, that’s what it means!”
All right, now this is what we call in Bar-land a situation. A real situation. Because Evan is a regular customer of ours, a good one for quite a few years, and an otherwise really nice guy until this moment. This was totally out of character for him and so why on this night of nights… on this one fookin’ night for whatever of fookin reasons… had it seemed that a stranger had shown up in Evan’s suit?
So what should one do, dear reader, or better put what would you do? And because this was an isolated incident… not the normal Evan fare… one might want to give slack and try to appease. But you know what? Not me. Not in this silly case. Not when someone is this far out of line. So Marty, in true “replacement” fashion, thought like your friendly bartender… he closed out the tab and sent our man Evan on his way. And when I heard of Marty’s decision I immediately thought of the immortal words spoken by Marlon Brando in One-Eyed Jacks…. after he’d killed a persistent antagonist who’d flat-out asked for it… he said, “He gave me no selection.” Yes and since Evan gave no selection Marty did right.
I mean what did Quagmire expect out of this for the mere ten bucks of a Cosmo? Did he expect “this fine young woman” to spend the night? Was the next step after the drink to pick out a silver pattern? C’mon, man!
Yes Marty did the exact right thing by not bowing down to this nonsense, regular customer (otherwise good guy) or not. And when all is said and done, our fine little bar will do just fine without our man Evan’s business, but I’ll bet our man Evan won’t be fine without us. We’ve been too much a part his act for too many years. And, hey, if Evan ever does come back… if he places his tail between his legs and reduces his bark to a tiny Pekingese “yip”, we’ll welcome him back with semi-opened arms and hopefully he’ll be the wiser for his trip into folly. Everyone has a bad night and this was Evan’s.
There are no guarantees or givens, you guys, when you spring for the price of a cocktail, and no one owes you anything when you do so. Else it’s prostitution. Case closed, indeed!
PS: Before I sign off, dear reader, I’d like to take a moment here to say a couple of words about the great Budd Schulberg. He passed away this week at the age of ninety five. This legendary writer was a longtime customer of ours and his passing marks truly the end of an era. I didn’t know him well but thankfully I knew him. The first time I met him we spent an hour and a half after closing time talking about and dissecting his movie, On The Waterfront. I’ll never forget it. That night was magical. And to bring it back to the present (if I might) he’s also the subject of one of my posts, this one, if you care to go back and read it because it’s not only about Budd Schulberg but it’s the subject of one of the most amazing coincidences ever. At least to me.
Yeah, Mr. Schulberg was a great man who lived a truly amazing life… so God, this Budd’s for you.
Over and out from Bar-land… see ya’ next week-end!