I’m told this prank has been done before in many variations… at home, the office, you name it, where pranks are played… but now that it’s happened in Bar-land I have to weigh in. And though your friendly bartender is not one of those who likes these practical jokes, especially one this cruel as you shall see, he somehow feels in this case it was justified. Let’s see if you agree.
Now as best as I can piece this together here’s what happened…
In lower Manhattan there was this bar owner who, despite his gruff demeanor, not to mention his endearing habit of rarely a “buyback'”, enjoyed nonetheless a thriving business for his bullshit. Call it “location” or call it good staff but every day his place did a land office business. And as long as we’re doing some calling here, let’s call this bar owner “P” which stands for Prick. For that’s what he was. He was famous for not only berating his staff (often in front of the customers), or breaking his bartender’s balls for the sheer enjoyment of it, but in general I’m told the man was just a bad guy. Apparently his family had left him the business and it kept on chugging along no matter what he did. Or didn’t do. Well one day one of his bartenders, and let’s call him “B” for Balls, decided he’d had enough and cooked up this scheme.
See, it was the Wednesday ritual for “P” to buy twenty dollars worth of Lotto tickets, bring them to the bar on Thursday and, while waiting for his lunch to be cooked, check out his numbers in the paper to see how he did. (Would he be the next New York City millionaire?) Like any other dreamer he hoped he would so this was a ritual he savored as much as the lunch.
But on one memorable Thursday, after getting himself all set which means claiming his spot at the end of the bar, laying down his stack of tickets, then marching into the kitchen to order his vittles, “B” went over and slipped something into the stack. Something heinous! And when “P” returned to commence his probe, long about ticket number nine, he let out a roar that almost brought down the house.
“Holy son-of-a-bitch, I won! I won, I fucking won!!!!” he bellowed like a mad man. “C’mere and check this out, I fucking won!!!” And the customers, in on the joke, hoorayed and applauded.
Then “B” excitedly approached his boss and, given that he was an actor as well, gave perhaps his finest performance to date. “Holy Jesus!” he said in his best method. “I’m lookin’ here at the numbers, Boss, and no matter how you slice it you’re a goddam millionaire! Un-fucking-believable, congratulations!”
“Wa-hoooooooooooooo!” again big “P” bellowed out.
“So whaddaya’ think,” said “B”, “should we buy the house a drink right now or what?”
“Of course we buy them a drink, what do you think, man? Buy the house a drink and put it on me. Whatever they want!” And more applause from the crowd as “B” went to work..
But then a few minutes later, after things had settled down as best they could, “B” walked over to “P” and said the following. “By the way boss, did you happen to check the date on that winning ticket?”
“No, why?” he said, still heaving and panting.
“Well, unless those numbers come up again next drawing, you just did your biggest buyback ever for nothing.”
“What the hell are you talking about?”
“What I’m talking about is… I bought that ticket this morning using yesterday’s winning numbers, and slipped it into your stack when you went to the kitchen.”
“Huh? What? Run that by me again?” His eyes were starting to bulge as he tugged at this collar.
“Okay, I’ll spell it out for you. I looked in this morning’s paper, got yesterday’s winning numbers, went next door and played those numbers for Saturday. That ticket’s for next Saturday.”
“What the fuck? Are you telling me…”
“What I’m telling you is, I quit!” And with that “B” dropped his apron and exited the bar. To utter silence.
Now I don’t know what happened after that but I do know what happened before it… a guy (to quote the great Thomas Wolfe) “who was swollen with petty tyranny”, thought of his bar as a fiefdom and ran it as such. And as life has a way of working things out, he suffered a giant payback or should I say buyback!
Over and out from Bar-land, see ya’ next week-end.