I couldn’t work there…

This past Wednesday morning as your friendly bartender was taking his daily constitutional,while stopped at a red light, he glanced across the street into an open doorway. It was the entrance to a neighborhood bar which, at ten o’clock in the morning, was already peppered with customers deep in their habit. Every neighborhood has one of these… a sad, dreary, soulless affair that caters to the sad and dreary, or what I call “morning drinkers” who blot out their day. And the first thought that hit me as I stared into that dimly lit chasm was, I could never, ever work in a place like that. And not because I think I’m better than that (bartender or customer), but precisely because I know that I am not. For that could be me  staring into space or hopelessly into my glass, had any of my wrong turns in life not found an On Ramp. But they did find their way back onto the highway and I thank the gods for that, and I also thanked the light for turning green. It gave me the chance to pick up the pace and my mood. That whole sight depressed me.

So I crossed York, then on to East End Avenue and as I walked by Gracie Mansion… an equally soulless shell, by the way,  as our mayor is an absentee resident… my mood not only lifted but started to soar. Yes, Thank you, thank you, I said to myself as I made a right heading south (and devoid at the time of an idea for this week’s blog), this will be the topic for this week’s post… bars your friendly bartender could never work in… hooray!!!

The first kind of bar that came to mind as I fast-walked along the promenade that borders the East River… the joint that wouldn’t be on my immediate “to do” list… was that most unique of establishments known as the Stripper Bar. Yes, much as he’d like to give it a shot just for the scenery alone, your friendly bartender simply can’t see that happening. I mean how do you concentrate on what you’re to do which is filling the glasses with booze and the till with money, when 32-C and 36-D are fighting over equal pole time, while 42-quadruple-F just fell off the stage. Too much going on. Too much skin! For I know I’d be pouring more on the bar than I would be into those glasses, and my register count at night’s end would look like spaghetti. Plus what kind of exchanges would your friendly bartender have with his most friendly customers, “Two more breasts, guys… er, excuse me… two more beers, guys?”

Ah, and what if the reverse kicks into gear after too much time on the job, where too much nudity in time tends to render him jaded? Where he finds the female form just part of the furniture? Good Lord, that’s worse. Like some  clown at your local nudist colony walking around with binoculars aimed at birds, the kind that fly, while the other kind bounce and cavort in all their glory. No thanks. I’d rather watch Miss Bubbles dance and miss the glass!

And finally (being the benevolent, caring person that I am both on and off the job site), here’s the most pressing reason this gig’s not for me… I’d be worried both day and night about the health of the stripper. That’s right. For with all that naked skin on display in some big old air conditioned room, susceptible also to a draft when the doors fly open, as Adelaide sang in her lament in Guys and Dolls, “A person {sniff, sniff} could develop a cold!”

Another place you won’t see me work is in one of those crazy venues I call a Kid’s Bar. You know, one of those raucous, packed, vibrating establishments where the music is so loud it not only shatters eardrums it shatters eyeglasses. No, gone are the days when your friendly bartender could jump into that kind of fray… matching shooters with patrons, taking orders that are screamed, high-fiving every five seconds, and working that wild, manic act til’ four in the morning.  At the risk of sounding like Father Time your friendly bartender can’t do that, he can’t be pulling off that kind of duty any more. Unless he hires a double from twelve to four. N’cest pas, Dudes and Dude-esses?

And the final venue that popped into my head as I neared the end of my walk… that qualified too as a place where I couldn’t work… was that bar that’s come to be known as the Wise Guy Joint. You know, where mobsters and molls drink Negroni’s and Cosmo’s as the wives keep the home fires burning, flashing their pinkie’s while ordering their next drink. For if you ever caught sight of the mug that I sport which isn’t about to be featured on a Sicilian travel brochure, you’d know why I wouldn’t be welcome at Mob-land Central. “Who the fuckin’ Mick?” he would hear. “What Mick?” the other would reply.  “The mook behind the bar, what, you ain’t got eyes?” Yes, no less a thorough background check than was run on Judge Sotomayor, would be run on your friendly bartender here by the boys.

And what about the part where your friendly bartender would like to chat up a lady, pretty Angie or Maria from Ozone Park? Does he have to worry that Angie or Maria has just broken up with Paulie, and Paulie still carries a torch and a fucking gun?

And finally, as if these all weren’t reasons enough to avoid this bar altogether, what if a fight breaks out in these unfriendly confines? What does your friendly bartender do about that? He can’t call the cops, he can’t jump into the middle of it and if baseball bats are drawn and raised he can’t just say “ta-ta” and make a run for it, for as any episode of The Sopranos will tell you there’s nothing thought worse in that culture than being a coward. So he’d be out of a job. Nah, when you look like Sergeant O’Malley but are forced to act like Barney Fife in certain situations, serving Negroni’s at Nino’s is not for you.

And then {Phew!!} his walk finally done, the blog roughed out and life once again rather sunny, your friendly bartender entertained these final thoughts. Funny how this all came about, it always amazes me where this stuff seems to come from. From peering into a dreary bar to

Well, you get the picture, the muse she works in very strange ways!

And as I approached my luxurious penthouse apartment (top floor of a five-story walk-up with hot running water), I thanked those gods again, dear reader, but this time for the wonderful place where I’m now employed.  It’s just my speed. Good people, damn good vibes, warm and cozy surroundings and, most of all, all breasts are covered.. damn, I meant… all bets are covered. See what I mean?

Thanks for taking this walk with me… Happy Hour resumes next Saturday!

20 Responses to “I couldn’t work there…”


  1. 1 siobhan September 5, 2009 at 10:13 pm

    scribbler – Loved this one – laughed out loud at your descriptions of what (to me) sound like hellish bars that I hope I manage to continue to avoid in my nighttime excursions. and I LOVE that you squeezed Miss Adelaide into your post – I can hear her nasal twang from here. “It says heah-uh….”

  2. 2 scribbler50 September 5, 2009 at 10:59 pm

    Siobhan:
    Thanks, dear friend, and being the movie aficionado that you are… I knew you’d like that reprise from dear old Adelaide. {Sniff, sniff}!

  3. 3 Comrade PhysioProf September 6, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    What about the tourist bars on the top floors of hotels?

  4. 4 Jennifer September 6, 2009 at 4:30 pm

    And you’ve got ghosts!!

    I was just talking about a kids’ bar the other night… as my husband and I drove past one, I was thinking how I didn’t even really care for them when I was the proper age to be in one.

    I was thinking of bars I did like to visit… they usually had what you said, a good vibe. Having lived on a strip in my 20’s that had many bars… there were only a few that felt “good”. My memories are coming back… I never wanted to go into the toothless bar (people were toothless from the many fights), never wanted to go into the manic sports bar, never liked the meat market bar, would occasionally go into the “we’re not hip, but our drinks are cheap” bar just because they had a pool table… I did thoroughly enjoy the gay bar just because it was a place a woman could go and dance her ass off without having to worry about her ass. 🙂

  5. 5 scribbler50 September 6, 2009 at 5:31 pm

    Physioprof: Couldn’t work in a top floor tourist bar… be too tempted to jump!

    Jennifer: Sounds like you had it all figured out. And as much as I love football (the Steelers in particular) I’m with you on the manic sports bar business. I can’t for a minute put up with those high-volume, fifty-screen mad houses. I found a nice civilized place in my neighborhood last year that gets all the games and you can actually hear them. Perfect!
    PS: Love the term “toothless bar”, never heard it. 🙂

  6. 6 val September 6, 2009 at 10:27 pm

    Glad to know that you are walking. Hope to walk w/you again soon. Miss you!
    Great stories – you are a great story teller. Stop keeping it a secret. Love you —xoxo

  7. 7 scribbler50 September 6, 2009 at 11:17 pm

    Hey, Val, glad you finally got around to my site and thanks so much for the kind words. And yes, that was an enjoyable stroll that day, I look forward to your next visit.
    As to the “keeping it a secret” part, I find it’s much more fun writing under a pseudonym. And safer. As I joked on my “About Scribble 50” page, remaining anonymous ensures that readers can’t become “angry mob with torches to my Dr. Frankenstein”. So I’ll keep it that way. Thanks again for stopping by…
    Your dear friend,
    Marvin Aloysius Eucalyptus Larkwood

  8. 8 Donna B. September 6, 2009 at 11:42 pm

    I wouldn’t want to drink at those places you couldn’t work.

  9. 9 scribbler50 September 7, 2009 at 1:01 am

    Donna B: What I know about you through your Comments and your blog, I can’t see you in those places either.

  10. 10 Stephanie Z September 7, 2009 at 1:26 am

    Seconding the approval of the soundtrack. Between this post and your last, I’m feeling much more classic than out of date. 🙂

    I’ll go to just about any sort of bar for the people watching alone, but I can’t imagine working in one where I wouldn’t want to be a regular.

  11. 11 Anonymoustache September 7, 2009 at 7:10 am

    Another great post, dude!
    How about if you had to work at a bar which was pretty much perfect—-I mean, you LOVE working there— except that on Sundays it was chock full of Browns or Ravens fans?
    Two more days…
    footballfootballfootballfootballfootball…I’m not excited or anything.

  12. 12 d-a-p September 7, 2009 at 9:41 am

    loved the tour…”your friendly bartender” has great “Runyonesque”
    tendencies…
    till next week..
    c
    d-a-p

  13. 13 scribbler50 September 7, 2009 at 9:50 am

    Stephanie Z: You put it perfectly (if I may paraphrase), “I couldn’t work where I wouldn’t drink”. Well said! And I’m glad you’re feeling classic, classic is never “out”.

    Anonymoustache: Don’t now nor would I ever work on Sundays. And ESPECIALLY under those “heinous” conditions you concocted. That’s like asking Keith Olberman to work the Fox Christmas party! And yes, dude, I share your pigskin passion… two more days indeed!!! Thanks for stopping by, friend, and creating in my mind the bar scene from Star Wars!!!

    d-a-p: Thanks, as always, old friend, Damon Runyon was one of my favorites. As one “citizen” to another!

  14. 14 Scicurious September 7, 2009 at 11:14 am

    Your bar sounds like the sort of place I would LOVE to go, scrib. As it is, Sci’s favorite bar is the only local one that is attached to brewery and has weekly trivia. I can’t stand bars where you have to scream to be heard.

    I concur on the gay bars, I love going in and having some guy say “you look FABULOUS!”, and me say “I KNOW, right?”, and they say “Where DID you get those SHOES!?”

  15. 15 scribbler50 September 7, 2009 at 11:34 am

    Sci: You would love our bar, screaming not required. And because the sound level permits conversation you could easily instruct your friendly bartender on how to whip up that “Sci-curiously Cocktail” you invented. The one {a-hem} that got published on the internet!!!

    Love the line about “those SHOES”!

  16. 16 JSaw September 7, 2009 at 9:18 pm

    Those “morning drinker” bars are so sad… there’s one on my way to the gym and the juxtaposition of me going to work out as someone is going for their first drink of the day is terrible…

    Where would those ultra-snooty places that are more about the scene than the drinks rank on our list? (You know the ones — many of which now blight the Meatpacking District in our fair city…)

  17. 17 scribbler50 September 7, 2009 at 10:13 pm

    JSaw: I think the answer is obvious… they would rank near the top of my “not to-do list”. As I said to Stephanie Z, I couldn’t work where I wouldn’t drink and I damn sure wouldn’t be drinking in one of those designer bars. Unless of course I was starving to death and needed the damn job. But even then I’d probably be fired on day two… how DOES one make a Valencia Martini without setting himself or the building on fire?

  18. 18 d-a-p September 8, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    dear yfb……
    for those of us who only have had “beefeater martini’s on the rocks”….what is a “valencia martini” and does it really involve fire in any way ???????
    d-a-p

  19. 19 scribbler50 September 9, 2009 at 12:37 am

    d-a-p: All you need to know is… sherry is used instead of vermouth and orange peels are squeezed over a match so the flamed oil drips into the martini. I think a back flip is also involved and then a bowing to the sun god Rah before pouring. Try to avoid it!

  20. 20 JSaw September 10, 2009 at 1:31 pm

    Valencia martini – Yikes! Though I do admit my secret shame — since I’m kind of a pyro (set fire to compounds from chem class in college) I love those drinks that have some pyrotechnics. Couldn’t ever drink them though. Also it’s funny when someone orders it and SOMEHOW doesn’t know they should wait for the flame to go out or to blow it out themselves. 🙂


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