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!