The week that was…

Well, dear reader, have I got news for you! Here, have a seat and let me get you a cocktail. You’re a Dewar’s on the rocks, right? Huh? Oh, for crying out loud, of course! You’re a Maker’s Mark on the rocks, what was I thinking? Well I know what I was thinking, I was thinking about that thing I wanted to tell you about. Here ya’ go… Maker’s on the rocks. All set? Good! Now check this out.

Yesterday, I’m bouncin’ around the Internet when I get this big heads-up from one of my blog friends… this Brenda who has a site called “Brenda and the F word”. She tells me to go to a certain site and that good news awaits me. Well of course I take her advice but when I get there you could’ve knocked me over with a feather. That’s because, by the looks of what I was seeing (here), I’d apparently just been knighted by the great King James. Huh? Oh, I’m sorry, I’m talking about James Wolcott… wordsmith extraordinaire over at Vanity Fair. Yeah, that guy. Well it turns out, dear reader, that the man not only mentioned me on his Wednesday afternoon post, he goes and does a whole frigging thing on me. Not braggin’ but I’m talkin’ quotes, excerpts, “Go read this guy”, etc. just like he tapped the sword on each of my shoulders. Can you believe it? And people have been rushing to my site like I’m one of the big boys. Isn’t that the greatest? So listen, if I give you a sloppy pour today or you see me standing here staring off into space, snap me out of it, okay? Just roll up a goddam bev nap and aim for my nose.

What are you doing with that bev nap? Huh? I still gave you a Dewar’s? Aww, for Christ Almighty sakes, see what I mean? It’s been like this all day! Here, while I fix you another drink, and speaking of wordsmiths, let me tell you about a night I was anything but.

It was near closing time. I had one guy at the bar and the couple on Table Four was paying their tab. That’s it, no one else. So while my guy’s chewing on his unlit cigar and swirling the dregs of his Hennessey around in a snifter, I go over and put on my favorite Bar-land CD. It’s called “Let’s Get Lost”, by Chet Baker. That’s always my choice at closing time because his sweet, dulcet tones seem to bounce off the walls like invisible marshmallows. It’s a soothing sound that always mellows me out. And it also kinda tells the customers, “You get lost, too, the party’s over!” But not on this night, dammit, Hennessey calls me over and orders another.

“Yo, bartender, hit me one more time, okay? Then I gotta get home before the Big German kicks my ass.”

Hmmm, I thought, ain’t heard that one before. Does he live with fucking Rudolph Hess’s grandson or something? And as I pour him his final drink I say, “Do you live with fucking Rudolph Hess’s grandson or something? Who’s the Big German that’s gonna kick your ass?”

“Hah! Very funny, bartender, very funny. Nah, I got me a big German woman who kicks my ass into Tuesday whenever I’m late. That’s all.”

“That’s all? That’s a lot where I come from. Sounds to me like a dangerous situation.” And it did, dear reader. Hennessey was only about five-foot-four and one-thirty-five if you throw in the weight of the cigar. “Well she must be something special to put up with that!” I added.

“Are you kiddin’? She’s cream of the crop. This woman is aces. Always been there, hell or high water… even when I was away, if you know what I mean.”

Well, figuring “away” wasn’t a tour of West Point, then on to Niagara Falls for a getaway week-end, I tip-toed in. “When you say ‘away’, you mean away away? Like up the river?”

“That’s exactly what I mean,” he said, squinting while drawing an imaginary puff on his stogie. “Up the fuckin’ river, oars and all!”

“Can I ask what for?”

“You can ask but I won’t tell,” he said. Then he smiled because this phrase popped into his head. “Let’s just say I had two and a half years of free room and board on Uncle Sam’s dime. How’s that?”

“That’s fine. And you’re right, it’s none of my business. I never should’ve asked. I just figured since you threw it out that…”

“Hey, no sweat, pal,” he interrupted. “Don’t worry about it. Which brings me back to why I love the big German? This broad not only stuck with me the whole freakin’ time I’m away… she took care of my business too, big time!”

No, dear reader, I didn’t ask, “What Business?” I’m thick but not concrete in the cerebellum department. “Well, she sounds like a fine woman,” I said, ” and based on what you’ve told me I can surely see now why you choose to stick with her.” And I said it with an, “Okay, we’re done here,” inflection.

“Let’s get lostda-da-da-da-da-da-dah…. Let’s get lost… da-da-da-da-da-da-dah!”

But he wasn’t done. “Shit, fine woman you say? Believe me, she’s a hell of a lot more than just fine, my friend. Just like my sainted mother, who treated me like the sun rose and set on me, I never been treated better by a woman in my life. And that’s sayin’ somethin’ when you think how terrific mother’s are!”

Enter “wordsmith” in all his linguistic glory. For trying to get the image out of my head of a six-foot-four Brunhilda with braids and a rolling pin, I decided to drop this pearl about sainted mothers. Check this out.

“Can I tell you something, my friend, about mothers?”

“Sure ya’ can,” he said.

“Here’s why mothers are great and nothing less. No matter what you do in life, no matter how many times you screw up in life a mother’s love is always and forever unrequited!”

Of course I meant “unconditional” but before I could correct the madness Hennessey jumped in. He took his cigar out of his mouth, got the beginnings of dew in his eye, slammed his palm on the bar and said, “Jesus Christ that’s beautiful, I couldn’t-a said it better myself!”

Well, to say I started to laugh is clearly inadequate. That’s because “high-pitched delirium” puts it better. For whether it was the time of night… that time when you’re tired and a laugh can literally own you… or the fact that I saw in my mind’s eye Leo fucking Gorcey and Huntz Hall here, I’m not sure; but what I can say for sure is I feared I’d be leaving Bar-land strapped to a gurney. That’s how bad I lost it. And I couldn’t go back and say, “I meant to say ‘unconditional’, too late for that. That would be saying he slammed his palm on the bar and agreed to nonsense. I was simply stuck with it. A mother’s unrequited love… a bartender’s fucking unconditional idiocy!

So as I continued choking on my laugh, he kind of chuckled as well… but with a wary eye as to what was really going on. So I tried to bail. “Sorry, friend, I don’t mean to laugh here but I just thought of something funny that happened earlier. It’s not us.” And thank God he didn’t ask ’cause I had no story.

“Hah, no sweat here” he said, “shit happens.” But then when he said, “Give me my check before the Big German kicks my ass,” it was hoots and Jello again but this time worse. Surreality cubed! I all but crawled to the register to tally his tab.

This is insanity, I thought, and also maybe dangerous if you ponder the circumstances. For even though Hennessey was only five-foot-four and one-thirty-three sans cigar which he left on the bar, it didn’t mean he was completely what you’d call harmless. I mean he did do a stretch in the joint, right? Which means he is capable of doing something illegal, right? Which means he might just be “connected” meaning he can get someone to do something illegal to me, right? Like break my cute dimpled knees some night when I leave. So when he looked back over his shoulder and gave me the oddest look when his hand went to push on the door… my laughter slid into the ethers along with this guy. “Good night,” I shouted cheerily. “Have a good one!” I added, hoping he bought it.

Let’s get lost… da-da-da-da-da-da-dah…

But isn’t that nuts, dear reader? I mean the whole damn thing. Here, let me get you another Dewar’s on the rocks. What? Oh shit, that’s right, you’re a freakin’ Maker’s Mark. God damn Wolcott!!!

PS: But seriously, Mr. W., let me say here publicly… if it’s not the word “King” then Prince does apply. Thank you, Sir.

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

27 Responses to “The week that was…”

  1. 1 jc October 3, 2009 at 9:01 pm

    Your sloppy pours crack my shit up. If unrequited comes back, RUN SCRIBBLER RUN!

  2. 2 Anonymoustache October 4, 2009 at 6:51 am

    Actually, it’s a Toora-loora-loora (y’know, the 18-yr kind, and it has got to be the ‘aged in oak first then sherry casks) with a splash of water but I’ll let it slide for this week, dude.
    Congrats, Sir Scribbler50: Protector of the Scotch, worthy defender of the Bar-realm.

  3. 3 physiobabe October 4, 2009 at 6:54 am

    You’re a frackin’ star, Scrib. More power to ya!

  4. 4 d-a-p October 4, 2009 at 9:19 am

    oh to have been there to have actually heard the sincerity in both your voices…it truly is bing crosby in “going my way”…vs….wallace beery in “tugboat annie” at 2:00 am….
    congratulations again…now pour yourself deserve it..

  5. 5 Jennifer October 4, 2009 at 9:24 am

    Congratulations!! Woo-hoo! You deserve it!

  6. 6 Isis the Scientist October 4, 2009 at 11:29 am

    Scribbler, I am more proud of you that you know.

    And now, with regard to today’s post, you have no idea how often as a mother I have felt that my love was unrequited. Your barland wackaloon might actually be on to something there…

  7. 7 Comrade PhysioProf October 4, 2009 at 11:43 am

    Now that you’re famous, try not to forget the little people.

  8. 8 scribbler50 October 4, 2009 at 12:14 pm

    jc: Don’t worry, he won’t be back. Too much time has passed. He’s probably “up the river” again sharing a cell with the Big German. Glad to have “cracked up your shit”!

    Anonymoustache: Are you wearing a baseball cap, Dude? ‘Cause that’s some pretty erudite single malt shit! Thanks for the “congrats”, my friend.

    Physiobabe: I wouldn’t go that far but I’m enjoying my 15 minutes. Thank you, as always, for your morning visit. We have to keep meeting like this!

    d-a-p: I already had the pour… last night and way too many. So who’s Wallace Beery in this?

    Jennifer: Thank you, my friend. This was indeed the week that was. Speaking of which, it wouldn’t be a successful week without your visit.
    Thanks again.

    Isis: Thank you, dear one, I’ve appreciated your support from week one. November 1st marks a full year of this, can you believe it? And I still don’t know how to “link” and do all the blog gimmicks. Got a seminar coming up though with your friend Arikia, she’s promised to drag me slowly into the twenty first century. And as far as that “unrequited love” thing goes, I don’t believe it. What kid couldn’t love a mother like you?

    Comrade Physioprof: And who are you again? 🙂

  9. 9 Remonster in Mosul October 4, 2009 at 2:21 pm

    Uh hey there barkeep. Is it possible to get a BEER around this joint? You know sometimes a man feels more like a man if he can have some suds with his friends is all I’m sayin’. Don’t know about that other shit your pourin’. Pabst works.

  10. 10 Kewalo October 4, 2009 at 6:11 pm

    IMO it is a huge honor to be named by Wolcott. He is indeed the king. And I agree with him 100% when he said this:

    [quote]I’ve found a new favorita on the blog scene, one that dispenses laughter and keen, eyewitness sociological insight with every complimentary bowl of salted peanuts[/quote]

    And if scotch is the drink of the day, I’ll stick with Glenlivet if you don’t mind. Neat with water on the side.

  11. 11 scribbler50 October 4, 2009 at 7:00 pm

    Remonster: Of course you can get a beer but are you sure about it being Pabst? Nasty stuff from my recollection.

    Kewalo: Thank you and I agree on both points. It is an honor and he IS the king.

  12. 12 chezjake October 4, 2009 at 8:56 pm

    A well deserved recognition. Congrats, Scribbler. Your weekly missives always seem to complement whatever I’m drinking here at Chez Jake.

    In line with Wolcott’s line about complimentary bowls of salted peanuts, it might make an interesting post sometime to get YFB’s take on the pros and cons of complimentary bar snacks.

  13. 13 scribbler50 October 4, 2009 at 9:49 pm

    chezjake: Thanks for the kind word and also for the suggestion. I’ve been toying with a piece about “happy hour” that does have to do with bar food so maybe you’ve pushed me further along towards writing it.
    Thanks again!

  14. 14 Donna B. October 5, 2009 at 4:37 am

    Well-deserved, perhaps overdue, recognition. And yes, please remember the little people when the book contract offers follow!

  15. 15 scribbler50 October 5, 2009 at 7:17 am

    I could never forget someone like you, Donna B.. And besides, my longtime visitors to Bar-land are far from little people… to me they’re big people!
    Thank you, friend.

  16. 16 blue girl October 5, 2009 at 11:36 am

    I’ll second Jennifer’s “Woo-Hoo” and add my own Yippy-Yi-Yo! Yay for you!

    And your post cracked me up. As soon as I read about the Big German Kicking His Ass, I started to laugh. And your line about Hess was hilarious!

    Cheers, scribbler!

  17. 17 scribbler50 October 5, 2009 at 11:52 am

    Thanks a million, Blue Girl, I appreciate your “Yippy-Yi-Yo’s!” and I always love it when you brighten up the bar with a comment. Meanwhile, friend, if Big German cracked you up, imagine being me trying to keep a straight face with that AND my “unrequited” gaff. And him buying it. I swear to God I thought I’d bust a gut. It was Abbot and Costello’s “Who’s on first???”
    Thanks again.

  18. 18 fromlaurelstreet October 5, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    James Wolcott has the most delightful and discriminating taste, and he did not go wrong when he sent me to your bar. Thanks!

  19. 19 scribbler50 October 5, 2009 at 5:39 pm

    fromlaurelstreet: Welcome to our street, and thanks for the kind word. We have a nice clientele here… no rowdies, no wise-asses… just friendly imbibers looking to share a good time. You’ll fit right in.

  20. 20 blue girl October 5, 2009 at 9:36 pm

    No wise-asses?

    I beg to differ!

  21. 22 scribbler50 October 5, 2009 at 10:20 pm

    Okay, Blue Girl, maybe one or two. But I have them on a two drink limit. Per se!

  22. 23 james sheehan October 9, 2009 at 9:52 am

    My friend (and yours) Anthony (Mac) told me to check out your blog. It’s hilarious. I went back and read a bunch. It’s great fun isn’t it and good therapy too. I have often encouraged Mac to write about his experiences as a bartender at one of my favorite establishments in NY. You probably don’t know this but he’s a very good writer too. I just can’t seem to get him charged up. Congratulations on the knighthood from the King. What a great magazine the New Yorker is. And what a great paper the New York Times is. I can now afford to read it since its on the internet. So many of my generation are not hooked up. They don’t know what they’re missing. And that, of course, includes “behind the stick”. Hope to talk to you soon. Jim

  23. 24 scribbler50 October 9, 2009 at 10:58 am

    Hey, Jim, thank you so much… you being a writer I appreciate it that much more. And speaking of writing, I didn’t know Tony (Mac) could write. I’ll have go and to talk to him about that, or at least get him to give me some goddam stories.
    Welcome aboard!

  24. 25 Warren October 23, 2009 at 12:01 am

    The Week That Was,…, it certainly was,…what a compliment from a true wordsmith.and Vanity Faire no less! From someone who’s known you a long time, it’s always been inside of you,…you just had to let it out.
    As pops would say,….Pour yourself a Vodka Tonic TALL!

    Keep up the great work,…and words!


  25. 26 scribbler50 October 23, 2009 at 12:13 am

    Thanks, Warren, from someone who’s known you a long time… I appreciate it.

  1. 1 That’s me, all right! « Behind The Stick Trackback on February 21, 2011 at 5:15 pm

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