Tomorrow of course being Mother’s Day and all, it would seem your friendly bartender should do sweet and nice. You know, avoid putting on his grumpy pants to try and share something warm for a change from Bar-land. So the question is… how do you get to sweet and nice from someone who says, “Ya’ wanna’ get even more drunk?” But I’m going to try.
Now as any bartender will tell you, when you hear those words or anything close… words like “Let’s get drunk!”… his antennae will immediately go up and a yellow flag drops. Because based on his past experience he pictures miserably in the theater of his mind, plenty of high fives and low fives, chest bumps and maybe projectile, and that horrible “Wooo-wooo-wooo” like you hear in comedy clubs. In other words, the goal for their night is mental oblivion so all bets are off on witnessing civil decorum. But not in the case of this story I’m about to share with you…
I had just come on duty a few weeks back and was scanning the bar to see what needed addressing… you know, who was empty, who was full and who looked like they wanted to pay their tab… when I noticed a nice young couple at the head of the bar. And I immediately went to them first because they were empty.
“Would you two like another?” I asked, breaking up what seemed a serious conversation.
The woman of this twosome was cute as it gets, somewhere in her mid to late twenties, with long brown hair that framed the smile of an angel. And I’m not exaggerating. (And it’s precisely that angelic look that will add to the irony later.) The guy of this pair was a couple years older with thinning hair spiked in a crew cut, a nice enough mug and sporting the obligatory facial stubble. (You know, that look that made me dump all my goddam Gillette stock!)
“Ahh, give us a couple seconds, okay?” said the guy. Their tab said they’d only had one to that point so this would be their second drink of the night.
So, were they a couple-couple? Who knows? Were they thirsty? Again, who knows? So I busied myself with the people who were while the two continued to look like I’d asked them a math question. “Take your time,” I said, “I’ll be back.”
Now normally this gets me nuts when I’m busy (and as you know, it doesn’t take much!) when people just can’t decide and simply sit there. As if their life is slowly passing before them and they’re only up to that fourth grade spelling test they failed. But there was something about these two that made it okay… and I don’t know what it was. Then a few moments later I saw it as clear as day. For this wasn’t just a question of a drink, dear reader, but a crucial next step in the night, as they were on, I soon found out, a quasi first date. And each additional drink meant another test passed.
“Bartender,” said young stubble, finally snapping to it, “Ya’ know what I think we’re gonna’ do? I think we’re gonna’ get drunk, how about that?” And he forced a laugh as he said this, more out of nervousness at trying to pull off this persona. “Two more Ketels with soda, whaddaya’ say?” he added. And because it was clear they were not that type… the “We’re gonna’ get drunk!” type… I and the angel chuckled at his bold pronouncement. And I think I could see her blush through the amber lighting.
“Two more Ketels and soda,” I said, “you got it.”
Then a little while later, a good half hour to be exact for sipping was what they were doing, they summoned me back but this time for a margarita pizza. And she did the ordering. Well, well, well, I thought, this must be going swimmingly… you don’t move into a pizza with a guy that’s a bum!
“And what about another drink?” I asked, as I started to walk away and head for the kitchen.
“Uhh, let us think about that,” said stubble, amazingly still trying to deal with his internal math. He was really tip-toeing into this thing and playing the full-out gentleman, and doing it quite admirably I have to say. And that’s when I heard those words that knocked me for a loop. “Ya’ wanna’ get even more drunk?” she whispered, leaning into stubble with the sweet tone of mischief.
Huh? From her? Ya’ wanna’ get even more drunk? It stopped me in my tracks.
Now it’s hard to explain why this got to me and I hope I can do this justice, but it just had to do with who said it and under what circumstances. For she clearly was not a drinker as such so it sounded to me when she said that, (innocently playing off his earlier joke, “I think we’re gonna’ get drunk!”), like, “Let’s try this thing called alcohol and see what happens. Whaddaya’ say, pal?” Know what I mean? And because she was so damn cute when she said it, it blew out the normal reading of what those words meant. Or something like that.
For it was she who was dropping the draw bridge here, across which they now both could walk. It was she who was moving this whole thing forward (and not that he was against it), and she was the one, I would later find out, that would turn this thing called “acquaintance” now into “date”. And all of it came from, “Ya’ wanna’ get even more drunk?” I know this sounds crazy but I wanted to hug her right there on the spot, just to admire her spunk, but of course instead I mixed them two more Ketels.
But later I did get to hug this girl when the two of them got up to leave (sober as judges I might add after four drinks each) and after we’d had a chat that started like this. “Miss,” I said, “I’ve been doing this for quite some time now and in all my years I’ve never heard something as sweet in a bar as, ‘Ya’ wanna’ get even more drunk?’ the way you said it.”
“Oh my God, you heard that?” she shrieked, burying her face in her hands.
“Well of course I did, don’t you know that bartenders hear everything?”
“Then did I say anything else embarrassing?” she said after emerging slowly from the palms of her hands. “I’m afraid to ask!”
“No, nothing else, you did great. And you shouldn’t be embarrassed at all by the other, I said it was sweet.” And that’s when I gave her that hug and a pat on the shoulder.
Well it turns out, as they then began to tell me their story after I’d answered all of their questions about our bar… it’s history, etc. which they loved… that they’d known each other through business dealings for at least three months from afar, when they decided to have a drink under the guise of shop talk. But of course they both had wondered at the time, Could this be more? And as it all turned out, indeed, This was more! They saw it in each other’s eyes earlier when they ordered that second drink, and clearly later when she said, “Ya’ wanna’ get even more drunk?” How coarse those words to carry such lovely intent!
I don’t know, dear reader, maybe you have to be a bartender here or maybe you just had to be there… to hear that line when she said it in all its naivete… or maybe (for chrissakes!) I’m mellowing to the point of sappiness, but to go to my opening sentence about “sweet and nice”… if this wasn’t sweet and nice I don’t know what is. At least for a place like Bar-land where such things are rare. And as I watched the two of them walk up the steps and slowly into the night, as he tentatively wrapped his arm around her shoulder, I said to myself, I’m glad I was part of that “date”. End of story.
So, Happy Mother’s Day to whom it applies… and to everyone else treat your Mom “sweet and nice”. They won’t be around forever, ya’ know, (as I know all too well), so give them that extra special on this their day.
Over and out from Bar-land… see ya’ next week-end.