Note: Maybe you have to be a bartender to appreciate this week’s entry, but I hope not!
Here we go…
Instead of resorting to an ovine headcount the night he couldn’t sleep, or taking some kind of a pill that would make him groggy in the morning, your friendly bartender took to the couch and turned on his old TV for a little diversion. That strategy, if successful, would not only silence the voice in his head that was chattering away like a myna… recounting events from his shift that went down badly… but would lull him into that stupor that drifts into slumber.
Did it work? Hell no. For when the bartender delivered that line in the movie that struck him as stone cold ludicrous, it not only wiped out the cob webs but it kicked off an internal chat that lasted til dawn.
The movie that stopped my surfing that night was a classic black and white western the name of which escapes me. But what didn’t escape my mind that night (and obviously doesn’t escape still) is this brief exchange that occurred in the town saloon. The hero of the movie (either Jimmy Stewart or Henry Fonda, I can’t remember which), stumbling into love for the first time ever and in search of some sage advice on the “female species” (you know, how ta’ handle ’em, etc.), instead of going to a shrink which hadn’t been invented yet, sought out healthy counsel from his local barkeeper. And here was the exchange that knocked me out of my slumber…
Hero to Barkeeper: “So, Mac, have ya’ ever been in love?”
Barkeeper to Hero: “Nah, I’ve been a bartender all my life.”
And as the Hero nodded knowingly… fully accepting that one rules out the other… I laughed my ass off.
I also then began this self-conversation…
Excuse me for inquiring, Mr. Scriptwriter, and I don’t mean to be a “noodge”, but why does being a bartender rule out love? Am I missing something here? For I could see if the question were something along the lines of, “Have ya’ ever done a heart transplant?” And the answer had been, “Nah, I’ve been a welder all my life.” That would makes sense. For it’s rarely heard in the operating room when a ticker is being replaced, “Scalpel, gauze” and then, “blow torch.” So I get that. But why does the pouring of drinks for a living eliminate the notion of long-term female society? Just askin’? And still laughin’!
And the chatter continued…
First of all, the way the bartender was depicted back then in all those old westerns, you were given no indication the man was a person? You know, a real live character with thoughts and views and flaws and virtues just like everyone else. He never had any pals, never an outside life, and never (God forbid) any female company. I mean did you ever see a western bartender getting so much as a kiss, let alone a roll in the hay or a march down the aisle? Hell no. There was nary the hint of a man of substance, or at worst some smooth Lothario… just that anonymous, invisible, “What’ll ya’ have?” Joe in a big white apron. Poor bastard. He just served up his glasses of nameless rotgut, ducked when the glasses flew, and took all the shit the scriptwriter wrote his way. And if he ever did show an ounce of balls, like reaching below the bar for a bat or a rifle, he was immediately shot in the chest and out of the movie. Next!!!!
Ah, then this thought chose to tip-toe in at now three o’clock in the morning, adding more wood to the crackling flames of insomnia…
Since this movie was written in the late 1930’s was this the screenwriter’s opinion back then of his bartenders? And was this the opinion in general of people about bartenders? For when he took his seat at the bar each night at the famed Brown Derby Restaurant, did he think the mixer of his sweet Rob Roy was a complete and total non-entity who slept in the back? Or someone who lived to just pour out drinks and then go home to an empty house and gear up for the morrow? Probably not. But then why was he prone to create each time a complete non-fucking-character, each time he entered the word “BARKEEPER” into his script? Couldn’t he just once have made that character a person? Again, just askin’!
Hmmmm, note to self: Write a cool western movie based on a cool western bartender, a Tom Jones of the old wild west. Never been done, you can bet your drink-pourin’ ass on it.
Yes, dear reader, some diversion I picked that night to quell all that internal dialogue, for instead of watching a movie of escape that would toss me into the arms of the mythical Morpheus, I instead got tossed to the wolves of personal resentment. But with a smile, I happily add, for if the line hadn’t been so goddam funny… “Nah, I’ve been a bartender all my life”… my romp through that riff might’ve taken a turn far more righteous.
And then finally, as if my mind hadn’t chatted enough on this topic so near and dear, this last thought jumped into play and entered the fray… this inventory of Scribbler that ensured his insomnia.
a) I pour drinks for a living.
b) I’ve never been married.
c) I’m not in a relationship right now.
d) I came home to an empty house tonight.
Holy fucking eremites, Batman, what’s going on with me??? Then I went to the kitchen and whipped up a snack, there was no way in bloody hell I was getting any sleep.
And so what is the lesson to be learned, dear reader, the next time your friendly bartender can’t doze off? Take a fucking pill and wake up groggy! End of story!!!
Over and out from Barland… see ya’ next week-end!