Mirror, mirror on the wall…

What is it about the backbar mirror (your friendly bartender wonders) that elicits such strange behavior in those looking into it? What’s going on there? Is it some kind of Alice in the looking glass thing… an escape to an alternate reality… or simply a case of vanity meets the cocktail? Is it something we all do freely at home… perform for a party of one… and because of the gin and vodka do it in public? Yes he finds this to be an enigma indeed to be pondered like all imponderables, for some clientele seem to lose who they are when staring into that glass…  they lose who they are, forget who they’re with, and simply get lost in a world of other dimension.  Here’s what I’m talking about…

Take this chap I’ll call Chat-away-Chuck who definitely fills out this profile, who definitely has him a thing when it comes to the  mirror. Chuck is always  a well dressed chap, a man I’d say in his fifties, who always orders a Beefeater “tooney” straight up. In the true parlance of the word Chuck is a gentleman. However, and I say this with warmth and respect, along with being a gentleman this dude is out there! Because four sips into that first mar-tooney (he usually has two), he’ll discover “himself” in the mirror and the two will start talking. I mean full out chat-away. Now it’s never that loud, I’m happy to report, in fact I barely hear (them? ), but it’s definitely a two-way deal because I see pauses. You know… he’ll say something sharply to (himself?) in the mirror, react facially to the response, then pick up from there and tell (himself?) what for.

Sometimes the chat will be serious in nature, sometimes (they’re?) both in stitches, but (they’re?) always under control and, thank God, behaved. In fact, when I’m forced to interrupt this mysterious exchange to ask if he’d like another, Chuck promptly comes to his senses and does just that. As if nothing had happened. As if he hadn’t just qualified with flying colors for a padded room in The Upstate New York Laughing Academy.

Yet I can’t really shut them off for this stuff… (er-ah.. excuse me, dear reader, I think I got sucked into the mirror just now)… I can’t really shut him off for this stuff because really he’s not bothering anyone but himself. So I let things ride. And when he sets to leave after drink is done and his conversation is settled, you’d swear he was off to the U.N. to speak to the nations. Go figure!

Then there’s this gal who comes in quite often, who’s really a lovely person, who for purposes of this conversation I’ll call Nip and Tuck. Why? Because when that first Pinot Noir makes its way to her head and her eyes make their way to the mirror, she proceeds right there on the spot to begin a full make-over.  She’ll suck in her cheeks and purse her lips, turn to the left and the right, then widen her eyes as if someone had scared the hell out of her. Then, tilting her head to a coquettish angle and narrowing her eyes as she does so, she’ll give it the “fuck you” glare of a bone yard Vogue model. Then it’s on to the serious stuff… the “nip and tuck” part.

After beginning her second glass of soul-freeing grape, while staring with purpose at her image, she’ll begin with a surgeon’s eye her scalpel-less surgery. She’ll place her thumbs under left and right jaw, while pulling up skin from her neck, then with forefingers pull up the skin which is under both eyes.  And somehow she’s smiling. For now she’s got Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s jawline set under Madam Wu’s orbs, but the smile’s more akin to a grimace which is where I step in.

“Giving yourself a face-lift, sweet-ums?” I’ll say in good-natured ribbing, “eventually though you know you’ll have to let go.”

“Oh, shut up,” she’ll repsond in good-natured kind, “I’m just trying to see what it’s like if I ever did it. Just shut up!” Then she’ll let go her grip on this minor surgery, chuckle along with yours truly, and return to what was a lovely face in the first place. But I know we’ll have to go through this again next visit… we always do.

Now this next man we find in the mirror, dear reader, a man I’ll call Cry Me A River, will require by his very nickname little explanation. For he just comes in every couple of months, orders a Dewar’s on the rocks, and proceeds to bawl like a baby into his visage. And I mean real tears! Now I hesitate to make open fun of this man for who knows what lurks in his psyche, but after so many years, “Give it a rest already!” And especially since tears are often accompanied by laughter. Yet, like Chat-away-Chuck this guy’s not a loon, I’ve talked with him many times, and in between sobs I find him to be quite engaging. Ah, but once we have finished our brief back-and-forth and I make my way down the bar… it’s, “Grab an umbrella, Molly, here comes the rain again!”

And this last person caught in the mirror is actually many in one, and they all fit into that family I’ll call Bob and Weave. Yes, these are the ones (and believe me they’re many) who when talking to your friendly bartender talk to the mirror. Which in essence is themselves. And which in essence is rude. And your friendly bartender being aware of this fact (being most astute in most areas) will force them to bob and weave to accomplish that feat. They’ll move to their right and he’ll move to his left… they’ll move to their left and he’ll move to his right… and the game will continue til some savvy soul gets the gist. He can’t find the mirror.

“Hey, man, what’re ya’ doin’?” he’ll say, perplexed and annoyed.

“Whaddaya’ think I’m doin’, my friend? I’m trying to keep the mirror from cracking, you keep on freaking looking at it!”

“Ohhh,” he’ll say, with a look like he just got punked, “very funny, man, hah, very funny!” But once we resume the talk so will the game. It’s who they are!

And that’s just to cite a few of the many who lose themselves in reflection… who tumble into that Twilight Zone made of glass. Which brings me to wonder… mirror, mirror on the wall who is the strangest of them all? Perhaps it’s you, dear reader, if ever you come in.

Over and out from Bar-land… see ya’ in the mirror!

PS: If you happen to be new to this bar (and welcome indeed if you are) may I refer you to a past post (this one) which is not only one of my favorites but deals with a mirror gazer. Enjoy!

18 Responses to “Mirror, mirror on the wall…”


  1. 1 brenda January 30, 2010 at 6:44 pm

    HAH! I am the FIRST comment. I like that. But how I loved “the glance of a boneyard Vogue model.” Not to mention (but I will mention) “the Twilight Zone of glass.” My daughter spends a great deal of her 17 year old life gazing into her own reflection. Which she seems able to locate everywhere from the silvery surface of hubcaps to store and car windows. Not me. I’d prefer to live a life of shiva and cover all glass with black cloths. Great post, Scrib.

  2. 2 Comrade PhysioProf January 30, 2010 at 7:32 pm

    That’s some weird shit, holmes. I have certainly admired my handsomeness as my glance fleets across the bar-back mirror, but I would like to think I am not making a spectacle of myself. You’d tell me, right?

  3. 3 scribbler50 January 30, 2010 at 9:31 pm

    Brenda: You being first to comment is “a first” indeed… and thanks! Glad you enjoyed that boneyard business, my friend. Cheers!

    Physioprof: No I wouldn’t tell you, I’d try to film it and throw it up on You Tube! 🙂

  4. 4 Ken January 30, 2010 at 10:21 pm

    I am just now appreciating the fact that my favorite bar has no mirrors of any kind. They do have a flat screen TV that is often tuned to The Weather Channel. They also resist turning on baseball. But that’s a totally different situation altogether.

    Very amusing post by the way.

  5. 5 Comrade PhysioProf January 30, 2010 at 11:38 pm

    Dude, you need to find a decent fucking bar.

  6. 6 goosenyc January 30, 2010 at 11:48 pm

    LOVE the post!!!

  7. 7 Anonymoustache January 31, 2010 at 12:40 am

    Dashed indecent of you guys to put mirrors behind the bar y’know? I gotta bob and weave to AVOID the damn thing—ever considered that it was looking at our sad mugs that drove some of us to drink in the first place? And now we gotta try to keep from looking at doubles and triples of ourselves as we progressively get blitzed! Beer goggles don’t work on/in a mirror, y’know. Sheesh….
    Another great post, dude!

  8. 8 scribbler50 January 31, 2010 at 10:45 am

    Ken: Thanks, as always, for checking in and congratulations on finding a mirror-less oasis! You can drink alone without that guy starin’ back at ya’.

    goosenyc: Haven’t heard from you in a while, welcome back. And thanks!

    Anonymoustache: Those are some serious issues, bro, maybe you should try and sit at a table next time. (beer goggles?)
    Another great comment, dude!

  9. 9 Donna B. January 31, 2010 at 10:28 pm

    When confronted with myself in a mirror, I’ve been known to remove my glasses and rub my eyes vigorously in hopes of revitalizing what they just saw.

    This has never worked.

    Not at home anyway. I’ve never tried it in a bar, but now plan to…

  10. 10 scribbler50 January 31, 2010 at 10:50 pm

    Donna B: Rub away, my friend, just don’t start any crying or talking to yourself. YOUR friendly bartender just might start watering your scotch. 🙂

  11. 11 Physiobabe February 1, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    Hi scrib! I’ve watched people do the nip and tuck as they passed store windows on Mad Ave. It’s a great show!

  12. 12 scribbler50 February 1, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    Physiobabe: Hah! Given that location, they’re probably on their way to real surgery and just trying to get a preview. Very funny!

  13. 13 Jennifer February 1, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    I wonder what the mirror thinks. You think you’ve got it bad, feel for the mirror!

  14. 14 scribbler50 February 1, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    Jennifer: Ahh, you’re right, the mirror sees all… and what indeed it must think to itself of the zoo it sees every night. And I’m the zoo keeper!!!

  15. 15 JSaw February 5, 2010 at 2:11 am

    You missed my favorites:

    Shocked Guy: the regular who knows there’s a mirror behind there but is somehow surprised every time he catches a glimpse of himself…EVERY TIME

    Narcissus: The bastard love child of “Bob and Weave” and “Chat-Away-Chuck”: this is the guy who positions himself (and it’s always a guy) so he can catch his own eye in the mirror while he’s speaking to someone else at the bar

    Thanks for some fun reading during my bout of insomnia

  16. 16 scribbler50 February 5, 2010 at 10:05 am

    JSaw: And thank YOU for some worthy additions. Love the Shocked Guy, each rediscovery gives him a chance to re-primp and re-admire. An ongoing love affair.
    Thanks, Pal.

  17. 18 scribbler50 February 6, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    Warm my heart it did, M.A., thanks for that! Wow, can you imagine? I put that up there with Lucy the found fossil. (But then I’m a bartender.)


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