None of my business…

Perhaps I should state at the outset, dear reader, that this week’s post will not be the usual fare. In other words your friendly bartender will not be swimming in the familiar waters of Bar-land gaffes and kerfuffles… those slips and trips that have kept this blog on schedule… for those waters, alas, have turned this week to thin ice. Upon which he’ll tread lightly.

So if you wanted your cocktail served today with the tingling glee that comes from a verbal joy buzzer, or tears from a squirting lapel flower posing as humor, I’m sorry. You’ll have to wait til next week’s entry when I’m sure by then some pontificating ass, while toasting his very own being, will have poked himself in the eye with the plastic swizzle stick. So let’s get serious…

The shrieking, high-pitched giggle I heard… wind chimes in a gale… preceded her entrance by seconds as it rang down the hallway. Aw shit, I said to myself, who in the hell is this at this freaking hour? I thought we were done!

And I had thought we were done, dear reader… Chet Baker was soothing the room in CD, we hadn’t had a customer in an hour, and I’d just told the waiter to go ahead put up the chairs. I’m not in the mood for this!

But when I gratefully saw who owned that giggle.. someone I’m going to call “Girl” for obvious reasons here… my mood quickly changed and I welcomed this incoming foursome. Good news indeed!

“Girl, I don’t believe it,” I said, “what a wonderful surprise this is!” Then we both leaned across the bar for a peck on the cheek. “It’s been ages!”

“I k-n-o-o-o-w,” Girl replied, in her signature five year-old’s voice, which wasn’t an act but simply the way she talked. “But that’s because we moved, ‘ya know,” referring to her company’s relocation downtown. That should’ve warned me right there this wasn’t her first stop.

“Of course I know you moved, Girl, don’t you remember how sad it was the day you guys held your going away party upstairs?” Then I laid on the bar four bev naps after I said it. Girl was with a woman who was roughly her age, late twenties maybe early thirties, and two guys who were clearly late forties or early fifties. This looked like an after work thing that had kept on going.

“So,” I continued, trying engage all four, “where are you guys coming from?”

“Florida,” barked the one guy… the younger one of the two… and he said it in a wise-ass tone that took me aback. And he winked at his friend as he said it to accent the “wise-ass”.

“Florida? For what, a business trip?” I said. I was still in the un-hip dark, dear reader, thinking they’d been away on some kind of conference.

“N-o-o-o-o-o-o,” chimed in Girl, “not a business trip, silly. We just met these guys in the bar up the street and when I realized we were here in your neighborhood I thought I’d bring them by for a phhh-i-n-a-l, final. ” Girl I could see wasn’t drunk but definitely slurring. And even that she did cute!

“O-k-a-a-a-y,” I said, “what’s everyone having?” I wanted to get get down to business and move this along. So Wise-ass ordered a gin and tonic while his friend went Johnny Black rocks, and both of the women ordered chardonnay backed by two waters. I made the drinks and set them on the bar and that’s when the god damn trouble kicked off in my head. For while gin and tonic and the one chardonnay were chatting and getting to know each other, Girl and Johnny Walker Black were already there. They were already locked in embrace and moving into kiss.

What the hell? That’s pretty fucking fast, I thought, as I watched this thing unfold. Then, son-of-a-bitch this is fast and wrongthat old bastard’s wearing a ring on his third freaking finger. Geez, Girl, what the hell’s going on here?

Now at this point it must be made clear, dear reader (which I hope you already know), that your friendly bartender is far from being a prude. Yes he more than understands hormonal rage at two o’clock in the morning, for many is the night on your side of the bar he’s been that man from Mars, promising a woman from Venus to pick out furniture in the morning… if only he could spend the night en route to that morning. So this wasn’t some case of righteous baloney or Solomon sitting in judgment, this was definitely a “something else” but (what?) I couldn’t figure.

Yet not wanting Girl to sense my dismay I walked to the far end of the bar and leaned against the backbar. Mind your own business, man!

But I couldn’t let it go. “Do you believe this shit?” I said to the waiter who had just come over to join me.

“Believe what?” he said.

“That shit! Girl and that old frigging hump down there muggin’ it up. It’s unbelievable! He’s not only twice her age but the bastard”s married!”

“What the hell do you care?” said the waiter. “She’s a big girl, she knows what she’s doing.”

Precisely, I thought, she does know what she’s doing, so why do I care for crying out loud? I mean, for all intents and purposes, I really don’t know this Girl except for our long ago exchanges which were strictly customer-to-bartender. And believe me it’s not some deep seeded crush buried deep, deep, deep in my psyche, for just like Johnny Walker Black I’m way too old for her. So what is it? I continued. Is it a big brother thing? Good grief, a “paternal” thing? Am I the moral compass for all little girls out in Bar-land? Well, “Hell no”, to that one indeed… one look into my past would invalidate that notion. So what is the reason this thing is getting to me?

But reason or not this had gotten to me and dammit Girl picked up on it, for just as she turned to gather her water and ungather Johny Black’s arms that were clinging like grape vines, she saw in an instant my thoughts through my furrowed brow. And I cursed myself for that. The whole dynamic suddenly turned on a dime and she looked like a girl who’d just gotten a “D” in spelling. And I was teacher. Her big doe eyes looked straight across the room and hit me right between mine, and carried on their gaze a guilt that I’ll never forget… especially if this was the last time I’ll ever see her. And the guilt that I got from that gaze had trumped hers in spades.

In a matter of minutes Girl had gathered her things, threw me a rather weak smile, then walked out the door with Johnny Walker Black and his wedding ring. No kiss good-bye, no “Glad I saw ya”,  just that enigmatic smile which could’ve borne ten meanings. And she also left behind gin and tonic with Chardonnay still at his side… unfinished business between them, finished business to be sure between me and sweet Girl.

“Start putting up the chairs,” I said, to the waiter who was glad that I did so, for he’d been chomping at the bit since the four of them walked in the door. And as I looked through the window out onto the street at Girl and Johnny Walker Black sliding into a cab together, not going into (which my mind wanted to do) Maybe they’re going for coffee and breakfast or one’s dropping off the other to save on cab fare, I decided to call this whole fucking affair none of my business. Bar-land stages a drama a night and this was simply one of them, one in which your friendly bartender failed miserably as director.

I handed the tab to gin and tonic whether he wanted to see it or not, then I turned up the lights and the volume on Chet Baker’s CD. There wasn’t a need for “Last call” we’d already had it.

Over and out from Bar-land… see ya’ next week for a much lighter tale I’m sure.

33 Responses to “None of my business…”


  1. 1 Tx Expat October 24, 2009 at 6:37 pm

    Ooohhh, that’s rough scribbler.

    Here, why don’t you sit down for once and let me do the honors. Cold beer, ok? Hang on a sec, though, and let me turn on a song that you might find appropriate:

    Watching someone you like go off with a douchebag is just such a …well, for lack of a better word, a drag. Especially when the douchebag isn’t creepy enough to warrant intervention. I feel you, buddy.

    On another topic, I had to do some research at the county clerk’s office this week. Did you know that shooting frogs out of season is a crime? Or that “mental condition” is an arrestable offense? I wish I would’ve known about that last one sooner because I most certainly could (and would) have made numerous citizens arrests over the years. 😉

    Hope you feel better.

  2. 2 Anonymoustache October 24, 2009 at 7:56 pm

    Wow. Beautiful post, as always. You transported me to that scene…..I feel like I saw the whole damn thing.
    Don’t know what to say, my friend, except, in the immortal words of McCartney, “Let it be”.

  3. 3 scribbler50 October 24, 2009 at 8:44 pm

    Hey, Tex Expat, thanks for the beer and thanks for the sweet song… though the sentiment doesn’t exactly apply here as worded. This wasn’t anything romantic at all, this was just a sad ending to a strange encounter. It was over the moment they climbed into that cab, this was just a case of sharing a story from Bar-land. But thank you, you’re a welcome addition around here.

    Anonymoustache: I’ve let it go, my friend, glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks, man.

  4. 4 jc October 24, 2009 at 8:53 pm

    She understood your look, probably was a bit shocked that someone cared enough to see her in the midst of a train wreck. She wanted to remain invisible.

  5. 5 Tx Expat October 24, 2009 at 9:03 pm

    Yep, I should have explained that I got it that it wasn’t a romantic thing, but that song immediately came to mind after I read your post.

    To those of you here that don’t know me yet, I was a bartender for about 20 years before I put down the muddler and entered the wacky world of law school. Hence my change of topic.

    Returning to topic, I’ve been witness to these types of situations and it is awkward – even though I’m a woman. Maybe especially so given that I’m a woman. My primary concern has always been safety, but there’s not much you can do with a freely made choice.

    Seems like your lady knew what you were thinking and was attempting to spare you the spectacle.

    Thank you for the warm welcome and a superbly written blog. Cheers…

  6. 6 Jennifer October 25, 2009 at 6:55 am

    Bar-land stages a drama a night and this was simply one of them, one in which your friendly bartender failed miserably as director.

    Who said you have to direct? So you reacted as a person instead of as an impartial observer and caught her off guard. I’m guessing her reaction had more to do with seeing what she was doing in a different light, and probably not caring for it, even if she still wanted to go ahead with her original direction. Like you said… alcohol-fueled hormones at 2am… God help us all!

  7. 7 scribbler50 October 25, 2009 at 8:07 am

    Jennifer: Perhaps “director” wasn’t the best choice of words, I simply used it to carry out the “drama” metaphor… a director sets the stage, the actors play their parts… my negative reaction intruded on their performance. That’s all.
    Thanks for your, as always, astute comment.

  8. 8 Jennifer October 25, 2009 at 9:15 am

    Ahh… no, in that sense, director sounds right. I’m guessing you just didn’t expect their improvising to take the direction it did.

  9. 9 Jennifer October 25, 2009 at 9:16 am

    And, ignore that comment because in your lovely post, you said you didn’t expect any of it to go down the way it did…

    I need more coffee. 🙂

  10. 10 scribbler50 October 25, 2009 at 9:23 am

    Jennifer: You’re the best! 🙂

  11. 11 physiobabe October 25, 2009 at 9:59 am

    How sad for her and for you, Scrib. Of course you had feelings for her, albeit benevolent. A good caring man, you are.

    Fino settimana prossima, soggiorno bene, amico

  12. 12 d-a-p October 25, 2009 at 10:15 am

    this story just shows that inside the “swizzle stick”..is a person with a very kind heart..and the experience to back it up…
    well written my friend…
    d-a-p

  13. 13 scribbler50 October 25, 2009 at 10:25 am

    physiobabe: Grazie, bella mia amica. (I hope I did that right, I just called my colleague Tony to get those Eye-talian words!)

    d-a-p: Thanks, Bud, as always, for your kind words. Next week hopefully back to the humor mill!

  14. 14 Donna B. October 25, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    I felt like I was watching the scene play out instead of reading it.

  15. 15 Isis the Scientist October 25, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    My heartbreaks for Girl, Scribbler. You had the forsight to know what she was in for and let’s only hope that your gaze caused her a little discomfort on the front end that saved her the heartbreak on the flip side.

  16. 16 Scicurious October 25, 2009 at 2:37 pm

    Excellent as always, no matter what tone you take, my dear Scribbler. I’ve known many girls like that one. My sympathy is with them all.

  17. 17 scribbler50 October 25, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    Donna B: If a picture is worth a thousand words, the picture in your mind just lengthened my post considerably. Thanks!

    Isis: Who knows, right? But I share your feelings. Thanks for stopping by, Isis, not the same without you.

    Scicurious: I share your feelings as well and I appreciate what you’re saying but I don’t want to call her “Girls like that one”. This was just a night, a moment, and I’m sure not a pattern.
    (And thanks for the compliment, my dear scicurious!)

  18. 18 Catharine October 25, 2009 at 4:06 pm

    Scribbler, you really are an excellent writer. Move over Richard Price! I hope there is a novel or some short stories to look forward to….

    About Girl: I know her well. I’ve been her. It is indeed a dangerous game (this I’ve learned the hard way). It’s easy enough to see where this behavior originates: lack of self-respect, self-hate even, but more fundamentally, a giant black hole where love should be. Not just romantic love — agape will fill the void nicely — but feeling valued and wanted as an individual (shortcomings and all) and having meaningful exchanges with others who honestly care about you. When there is a void where love should be, we try to fill it. Sometimes we try to fill it with food, sometimes alcohol, sometimes meaningless sex, and sometimes all of the above and others (like religion, shopping or watching TV). I suspect that if Girl had the slightest clue that this bothered you, that somebody actually gave a damn, she would’ve sent the old bastard to hell and fallen into your arms and wept with gratitude. Thank you for reminding me how important it is to let people know that I care.

    (PS- This is not to say that occasional meaningless sex is altogether bad…)

  19. 19 Scicurious October 25, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    When I say “a girl like that one” I don’t mean a ho or something like that. I mean I’ve known a lot of girls who have made that one very bad decision. Sometimes more than one, but often it’s just one. I don’t think less of her for it, but I do feel very sorry.

  20. 20 scribbler50 October 25, 2009 at 5:47 pm

    Scicurious: I know you meant it in a nice way and from the heart. Sorry if I made it seem otherwise. No one’s passing judgment here and certainly not you. We all make bad decisions in life, I’m the king of that.

  21. 21 scribbler50 October 25, 2009 at 6:00 pm

    Catharine: Wow! Thank you so much for that wonderful comment. You really covered the subject with insight and perspective, I’m only glad to have inspired the beauty of that which you’ve shared with us. Thanks again, friend, for all of that.
    (A-hem, especially the first line.)

  22. 22 PalMD October 25, 2009 at 8:56 pm

    I’m very much with you on this one. I also get snapshots of (possibly) soon-to-be tragic moments in people’s lives, i just wish i could paint it as well as you.

  23. 23 scribbler50 October 25, 2009 at 9:16 pm

    Thank you, PalMD, and welcome aboard.

  24. 24 siobhan October 25, 2009 at 10:57 pm

    Oy, that’s a sad one, scribbler – definitely part of what makes your world a tough one. However, you did yourself proud in the writing – really conveyed your discomfort, both with Girl and with yourself, in a way that made this one of your great ones.

  25. 25 scribbler50 October 25, 2009 at 11:19 pm

    Thank you, Siobhan, truly. I actually thought about not doing this one but I’m really glad that I did. This kinda stuff happens too in Bar-land, it’s not all hats and horns. Good or bad we do what we do on both sides of the bar.
    Appreciate your comment as always.

    PS: When you eventually do stop by the bar, bring your hat and your horn. 🙂

  26. 26 brenda October 26, 2009 at 9:49 am

    What a strange night life you lead, Scrib. Always the last man standing. But it’s tough, for a girl who’s feeling weak and none too steady on her feet. No one likes a witness, especially when they stumble. I’m sure she’ll be back. In the meantime, thanks for the beautiful post.

  27. 27 scribbler50 October 26, 2009 at 10:08 am

    Brenda: You got it, “last man standing”, I never thought of it that way. The sights and sounds of the final revelers… those who must be gently nudged out the door… is an ongoing saga right there rife with story possibilities. You might’ve given me an idea for something in the future. Including the title… The Last Man Standing.

    And I’m with you on the “witness” thing, didn’t take pleasure in being so. I really do hope she comes back, if only for the reason of proving “no harm, no foul”. On either of our parts.

  28. 28 JSaw October 26, 2009 at 6:15 pm

    Hey man, serious or humorous, you’re stuff is some of the best out there.

    Besides, as you indicate Barland is not always funny sometimes it’s uncomfortable and weird.

    (And cue the Facts of Life theme: you take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have… la la la)

    See you next week.

  29. 29 scribbler50 October 26, 2009 at 7:01 pm

    JSaw: “Sometimes uncomfortable, sometimes weird”, but always interesting or this blog is out of business. Thanks for the kind words, man, much appreciated.

  30. 30 Uncle Vinny October 26, 2009 at 7:33 pm

    Scribbler! I dunno why it’s taken me so long to click over here from Brenda’s house. This is a fine fine how-do-you-do intro to your writing, I feel angsty and yet fulfilled.

    We wish happiness and deep satisfaction for the people who breeze through our lives, and we can’t ever know if they really got what they were after, or if they’re being hoodwinked, or if we are, or what. A little shepherdly concern for others; it goes a long way, and I like to think it worked to Girl’s benefit that night…

    Toodle-oo to yoo,
    Vinny

  31. 31 scribbler50 October 26, 2009 at 7:51 pm

    Thank you, Vinny, glad your first visit wasn’t a disappointment. Welcome aboard and Toodle-oo to yoo too.

  32. 32 Comrade PhysioProf October 26, 2009 at 8:17 pm

    Very nice post, my brother! Even more painful than what you describe is seeing someone who is actually an integral part of your own life making such a decision.

  33. 33 scribbler50 October 26, 2009 at 10:21 pm

    True that, Physioprof, and we’ve all experienced it. Hey, thanks for taking the time to check in while I know visions of the New York Yankees (like sugar plums) are dancing around in your head! Congrats, my brother. And not for nothing, your Philadelphia Eagles are beating the Washington Redskins as I write this. Life is good for the Prof this night “as Santa exclaimed as he drove out of sight”!


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