Last Call?

There’s a poignant adage that made the rounds many, many years ago (an accurate one I might add), that spoke to the clear imbalance of  gender workload. And it went like this… “A man’s work is from sun to sun but a woman’s work is never done,” remember? Well, of course, that was back in the days of yore when women were mostly homemakers, and weren’t, like now, a significant part of the “work force”. Back when… if Johnny got sick at one A.M. it was mom who ran to the rescue because dad, poor dad, “had to get up in the morning”. As if mom didn’t, right?

Well, dear reader, in a stretch of mammoth proportions here (and extreme self pity to boot), your friendly bartender would like to rewrite that adage.  And it goes like this… “A woman’s work is from sun to sun but a bartender’s work is never done, even after he’s given that sacred Last Call!”

And here’s why…

It was just after one this past Wednesday morning, we hadn’t had a customer in an hour, so I signaled the waiter to start putting up the chairs. And to pull down the gate. And for my part, I put on the CD “Let’s Get Lost” by the hauntingly cool Chet Baker (my nightly ritual when closing), then I readied myself to count my bank and ring out. But just as the soothing tones of that song were kneading their way through my soul, the massage was suddenly broken by a loud female voice.

“Oh, n-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-!” shrieked the owner of that voice, stomping in in a fire engine red silk dress. “Don’t tell me you guys are actually closing. That can’t b-e-e-e-e-e!!!”  She had short blond hair and her mood was the color of her dress.

Her companion… the occupant of a silver, glittering mini, teetering on heels way too high… also added her lament to the apparent situation. “You’ve got to be kidding, you guys can’t be closing… no way!!!” And where “fire engine red” was make-up free, this one had chosen Gothic to limn her features. Doris Day / Alice Cooper!

Now, I don’t know about you, dear reader, but when I see a place that is clearly closed or at least in the process of closing… the gate is down, the chairs are up and the staff I can see is ready to hit the bricks… I couldn’t in a million years try to keep the place open. I just couldn’t enjoy my drink seeing that around me. And especially here in New York… “the city that never sleeps”… where tons of  joints still go til’ four in the morning. But being “your friendly bartender” of course (and not one to turn his back on damsels in distress) he acquiesced and welcomed his late night callers.

“Well, we were about to close,” I said, “but I guess I can squeeze in one more drink for you guys. What’ll it be, ladies?”

They both turned away and started to text. Or at least I thought it was texting, I honestly never know what that is, all I know is they were pushing a lot of buttons. Including mine.

“Ladies,” I tried again, “you said you wanted a drink, what’ll it be?”

“Oh, sorry,” said Doris, “I’ll have a Lagavulin neat and a glass of water.” (Back to texting.)

“And what about you?” I asked of Alice Cooper. “What’s your drink?”

“Ahh… hmmm… let me just have a water for now, I haven’t made up my mind just yet, okay?” (For now? Just yet? How long do you think you’re going to be here, miss?)

“FYI,” interrupted Doris, her favorite phrase I would learn, “she can never make up her mind so good luck with that!” (Back to texting.)

“I don’t need any luck, I need an order. Whaddaya’ think, miss?”

“Okay,” said Alice, “I’ll have a Ketel and soda with a slice of lime.” (Back to texting.)

So I made their drinks and left these ladies to their devices. And I mean devices… those goddam things whose buttons they kept on pushing.

“FYI,” said Doris, “he said he’s going straight home, what a bummer!”

“And Jill’s heading downtown with that guy from the thing. Can you believe it?”

“Uh-oh, FYI… something’s going on there, ha-ha-ha!”

“But where is everyone else, this is nuts!” added Alice.

Well, you get the picture. Your friendly bartender was presiding over a typing class. So after a solid fifteen minutes of this and fifteen “FYI’s” and “Where is Susie?”, I finally brought up the subject of having a cocktail.

“Ladies, sorry to interrupt information central but you asked me for a cocktail not office space. Your drink is evaporating.”

“Oh, sorry,” said Doris, who turned and took a tiny sip of her drink. Then she went back to texting. Yet Gothic Alice, despite my prodding, kept on pushing those buttons like a woman in a trance. And her eyes kept widening and narrowing as she did so, reacting to incoming info, and given the fact she’d applied all that black as make-up around her eyes, she looked like a young raccoon who was reading a crime novel. And it actually was funny.

But then it wasn’t. After a good half hour of texting and almost nothing in the consumption department… at least liquid consumption… I finally had to call a halt to these proceedings.

“Listen, ladies, I’m gonna have to ask you to drink up and pay your bill. Sorry. You said you wanted a drink, not this.”

“Hey, no prob,” said Doris, as sunny as the real Doris Day after whom I’d named her. “And FYI, bartender, you’re a doll.” (Something good must’ve happened while she was texting!)

“Yeah,” added Alice, through magenta lips that looked like they’d just drawn blood, “you… are… thee… best!”

“Well, thank you, ladies” I said, “glad you understand.”

And in spite of the fact I was throwing them out they actually didn’t seem to mind, for which I was grateful. Because they really were kinda’ sweet, these two, just woefully out of touch as to what just went on. So Doris quick paid the bill and out they went. And as I contemplated this entire scenario… what a total waste of time this was, not to mention of money and booze (the sixteen dollar Lagavulin went virtually untouched)… I actually heard another “FYI” from the street. God bless you, Doris!

So what’s the point of this story, dear reader, and why have I chosen to share it? Well certainly not that I had to stay late… that’s just part of the gig… for I often have stragglers coming in late and based on who they are and what condition they’re in, I oblige or I don’t. It’s why I had to stay late that’s the point of this story.

Now I know I’m going to take flak for this… here comes Grandpa Moses… having one foot firmly entrenched in the twentieth century, but I have to call ’em as I see ’em and here’s how I see ’em.

Plain and simple, these communication toys are to me non-communicators. Oh sure, they connect all right and information gets exchanged, but not where the human dynamics of the message are concerned. Where emotion, inflection and unseen vibrations pass from one to another, especially in a bar where congress is the order of the day. In other words, just like the ubiquitous cell phone, these toys all serve a function… a touching base, if you will, til we get together… but in a place where people are taking in spirits or trying to lift one’s spirits with lively conversation, zoning out to a machine just seems out of place. And perhaps even rude. Again, I’m the first to acknowledge these toys are great and texting is a great invention, but so is a fucking blender and you don’t bring it into a bar to puree a pesto sauce. Know what I’m sayin’? So that’s my point. {Ha-rrummph!!!} 🙂

Over and out from Bar-land… (FYI) I’ll see you all you guys next week-end!

PS: This being Memorial Day week-end… let’s all raise a glass to the brave who’ve served both past and present, and let’s “remember” their service well into the future.

21 Responses to “Last Call?”

  1. 1 Petro May 29, 2010 at 8:04 pm

    “Plain and simple, these communication toys are to me non-communicators.”

    I generally agree with you, Scribbler – as far as this texting trend goes, for sure. But I was similarly Luddite-esque about cell phones when they first came out, and I was wrong about that, so who knows? The social defense of cell phones – against the charge that now you can be “bothered” all the time with calls – is the incredible liberation for the socially insecure (um, all of us.) No more sitting at home during a rapidly deteriorating Friday or Saturday night hoping for a social call to let you know what you will be doing – especially for the ladies! With the cell phone, you can start the party, and to hell with whether Mr. or Ms. Interesting gets around to inviting you out somewhere. You get to tell them “where it’s at,” now.

    As an aside… fire-engine red silk dress, silver glittering mini… any intimations of altruism here fall very, very flat, sir!


  2. 2 jc May 29, 2010 at 9:20 pm

    I’m shocked that you don’t carry a fucking blender around with you!
    Have a lovely holiday weekend Scrib.

  3. 3 Donna B. May 30, 2010 at 6:03 am

    It’s not the toys I have a problem with, but the way some people just don’t know when to stop playing with them.

  4. 4 physiobabe May 30, 2010 at 9:30 am

    Awww, lighten up, Scrib, toys can be fun. And, may I say, that’s the first time I’ve heard “congress” used as a verb in quite some time… showing my age, I suppose. Welcome back, and better than ever!

  5. 5 scribbler50 May 30, 2010 at 10:50 am

    Petro: Okay, okay, so ya’ got me! The “red silk dress and glittering mini” did push back the clock, but a lot of good it did me, right? I got beat out by a machine!

    jc: I DO carry a blender around I just don’t turn it on! 🙂
    Enjoy your holiday as well.

    Donna B.: We’re saying the same thing, it’s not the toy in the hand it’s the hand on the toy. Hey, welcome back, old friend, and congratulations on the new addition to your family.

    physiobabe: To use that touchy-feely lingo that makes us all gag, “I choose to own my Ha-rrummph!”
    Thanks, as always, for checking in, bella mia.

  6. 6 d-a-p May 30, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    ….cell phones should have similar rules to the no smoking laws…if you want to smoke, go outside or to a smoking area…if you need to make a call…take it outside..even if you receive a call..take it outside…there are restaurants in l.a. that will ask for your cell phone before entering..returning it of course when you leave..and the customer can choose to go in…or not based on their need/habit of always carrying around their phone…as usual these days many people don’t know when enough is enough…and will abuse lots of the new inventions…sad….i loved the red dress though…

  7. 7 James Wolcott May 30, 2010 at 7:16 pm

    You know the Southern version of that quotation?

    “A man toils from sun to sun, a woman’s hair is never done.”

    Southern women take their hair and what the humidity does to it *very* seriously.

  8. 8 scribbler50 May 30, 2010 at 8:03 pm

    James Wolcott: Then I guess the man who toils in a beauty salon is the exception to that rule. On those steamy Tennessee Williams nights the boy is working well past sundown!
    Hey, James, thanks for the quote (I love it!) and thank you for stopping by.

  9. 9 scribbler50 May 30, 2010 at 8:10 pm

    d-a-p: Wow, man, that’s some strict ruling re: cell phones in L.A. restaurants. Confiscation, huh? Must drive agents and other professional bullshitters nuts. Though, I have to tell ya’, in certain settings it’s probably a good idea… intimate settings with candlelight, etc. Especially since people seem to talk louder when they’re on those things. Texting on, the other hand, doesn’t make noise it creates zombies!

  10. 10 Anonymoustache May 31, 2010 at 6:34 am

    Ahhh, you’re going soft in your old age man! I’d have taken Doris to task saying, “You know there are people in Africa, India….all over the world….starving for a simple drink and can’t get so much as a drop of Canadian Mist, and here you are, wasting a bunch of fine Lagavulin…you don’t know how good you have it……now gimme that damn phone; you’re not typing another letter unless you finish that drink, young lady!”
    Great post as usual bro, and I echo your sentiments regarding our veterans past and present.

  11. 11 scribbler50 May 31, 2010 at 8:35 am

    Anonymoustache: Spoken like a connoisseur of the finer things in life. Meanwhile, Bro, looking back, I can’t believe she ordered a Lagavulin in the first place. Didn’t fit. Just like some guys are definitely Bud Light just by looking at them, this woman’s outfit and subsequent behavior clearly suggested, “I’ll have a Cosmo!”
    Ya’ live and learn, eh?
    Cheers to you and your gang for a great holiday!

  12. 12 Comrade PhysioProf May 31, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    I’m with you, brother. I’d rather hammer nails through my fucking dick than communicate via text message.

  13. 13 scribbler50 May 31, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    Comrade: So I gather you don’t like texting then…

  14. 14 Donna B. May 31, 2010 at 10:21 pm

    Anonymoustache – you’ve hit on something I completely missed — that texting or whatever cultural meme is currently on top recognizes but doesn’t appreciate that which came before.

    And I say that as one who did not initially appreciate the gift of Lagavulin when it was presented to me. As the bottle slowly emptied… and somewhere past the halfway point I began to appreciate its true worth and its … how can I say this… depth? No that’s not quite right… its roundness? No, that doesn’t quite sum it up either.

    Strength is the best word to describe it. But you must discard the flimsy meanings of strength to get to that understanding.

    A good scotch has a fullness that requires the drinker to both embrace and reject prior memes as to what “taste” is.

  15. 15 Irishirritant June 1, 2010 at 3:29 pm

    We should all be thankful Rocky and Jake didn’t have any of these detracting devices…otherwise Scrib might have blown town…we sure wouldn’t have had a story about famous prize fighters nimble fingers… and comrade…would those be screw shank nails?

    Thanks Scrib

  16. 16 scribbler50 June 1, 2010 at 4:51 pm

    Irishirritant: No, thank YOU, I like your logic.
    And for anyone who read the above comment not getting the reference, he’s referring to my post of March 7, 2010, called “Thanks, New York!”

    Cheers, Irish…

  17. 17 Isis the Scientist June 2, 2010 at 8:15 pm

    Mmmmmm hm. You can gripe all you like about those little phones, but you don’t seem to mind that you have Isis at your beck and call.

    And, I am totally the woman who comes in and orders at last call. You’d serve me, though. Wouldn’t you, Scribbly Pants?

  18. 18 scribbler50 June 3, 2010 at 12:18 am

    Isis: You, my dear, are the exception because you have been there for my tech calls, and I thank you for that. But I bet if you did come into my bar (and after indeed I did serve you) you wouldn’t take out a phone and start texting. Why you’d be so enthralled with… with… well… I think you get the picture!
    Later, tater. 🙂
    PS: Wonderful video, Isis, thanks!

  19. 19 Ken June 4, 2010 at 8:06 am

    Hey Scrib,

    This is a generational thing. I was meeting a lawyer friend for after dinner drinks last week. We were to meet in the bar of a very well known building in town. It’s part of a hotel/performing arts venue, and it can be quite busy.

    But not that night. It was slow, very quiet. No music, and the TVs at the bar muted. My friend had called to tell me she would be delayed–a last minute memo had to be written. So I sat at the bar, nursed a drink (Jack on the rocks), and waited. A young woman came in and sat a couple of seats away. She ordered a drink. Looked my way. Smiled. Looked ready to say something and–her cell phone beeped. She whips it out, turns away and soon is lost in conversation.

    I tuned to ESPN. Fortunately my friend arrived 15 minutes later. As we entered the restaurant I looked back at the young woman. Still on the phone.

    I’m afraid some of what I used to like most about bars–those chances for brief, literally once in a lifetime encounters that sometimes lasted a few minutes or a few hours, are increasingly becoming a thing of the past.

  20. 20 scribbler50 June 4, 2010 at 10:25 am

    My point exactly, Ken, now it’s always the “three’s company” scenario… you, the other person, and their cell phone.
    Thanks for that.

  21. 21 Jager June 4, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    One of my favorite little bars would lock the doors after closing, if you among the choosen few, you’d get to stay. It was at the descretion of the bars owner and the mood he was in…the downside was, you had to stay until he unlocked the door! The cell phone thing drives me nuts, love the convenience hate the excess!

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