It wasn’t the fact that she said it three times right out of the blocks, those two most wonderful words, “thank” and “you”, it’s the fact that she kept on saying it all night long. That’s what got me. For if there’s one thing your friendly bartender can count on when it comes to someone overdoing the politeness game, it’s the fact that that person is throwing up some kind of smoke screen. Overcompensating. Either they’ve already had too much or, having been in this place before, they have a bad track record. And this woman I’m about to tell you about… let’s just call her Barbie because she was not only blond and cute, but just like a doll she talked like someone pulled a string in her back… hit me with enough sweet “thank you’s” to warrant a dentist appointment! So what was up? For what was little miss Barbie overcompensating?
“What would you like to drink?” I asked, as she wiggled onto her stool and beamed full of sunshine.
“Oh, nothing at the moment, Sir,” she said, “I’ll just wait for my friend, he stopped in the men’s room first. But thank you, Sir, thank you, thank you very much.”
“Your welcome,” I said, as I started to walk away.
“Oh, but could I please have a menu to look at while I’m waiting, Sir? Please?”
“Of course,” I said and I handed her a menu.
“Thank you, Sir, thank you, thank you very much!”
“You’re welcome,” I said, “you’re welcome very much.”
Hmmmm, what’s wrong with this picture? I think I see smoke!
Her friend soon joined her, he ordered a Sierra Nevada, while Barbie asked for a glass of Pinot Grigio. (With a “please” first and of course two “thank you’s'” after.)
“And did you want anything from the menu, Miss, while I’m here?” I asked.
“No, not right now, Sir, thank you.”
Okay, dear reader, so I don’t drive you quite as nuts as she almost drove me, I won’t keep saying her “thank you’s” here as I tell this. At least not all of them. Just know that she threw out enough to make Emily Post look like a fucking Hun. Okay?
One Pinot Grigio later Barbie got my attention again, but this time to order a Manhattan instead of a wine. “I just love Manhattan’s, don’t you?” she said to her friend. And before the guy could answer she said, “Make that two Manhattan’s, bartender, please!”
So I made the two Manhattan’s but my antennae now were definitely starting to crackle. Like sparklers on The Fourth! Something definitely wasn’t right with this woman but I couldn’t put my finger on it, something was giving me a weird deja vu feeling. Had she been in before? (Sparkle, crackle!)
“Oh bartender,” she shouted, about a half hour later.
“Let us have a double order of French fries, would you please?”
“Geez, miss, I’m sorry, the kitchen closes at eleven, it’s almost eleven thirty.”
“But they’re having fries,” she said, pouting and pointing to a table where she saw a plate of them.
“They ordered before eleven, what can I tell you?”
“Oh, okay, then let us have two more Manhattan’s, please?”
“Whoa,” said her friend, “not for me, this one’ll do me.”
I little while later, midway through her second Manhattan, Barbie started to flirt with two guys at a table. Flirt blatantly. (Which meant Sierra Nevada wasn’t her boyfriend.) And as she readied herself to approach these guys, her drink still half full, Barbie turned and ordered a third Manhattan. (Now my sparklers are launching tiny little rockets.) For if there is another thing I can count when it comes to predicting trouble perhaps down the road, it’s someone ordering another when their drink is half full. It’s like they can’t get drunk fast enough or they want to beat you to the punch before they’re cut off. But in this case, at least so far, Barbie seemed fine. So I made the damn drink.
“And I’ll also have a double order of French fries,” she said.
“Miss, I told you, the kitchen closed almost forty five minutes ago. Don’t you remember?”
“Oh, yeah, that’s right,” she said, cute as a button. “Thank you, Sir, thank you very much.” Then holding the two Manhattan’s, a full one and one half full, she and her friend got up and joined the two guys. The two guys who, by the way, couldn’t believe their good fortune. I mean here they were just sitting there drinking, two guys in from Chicago, and along comes cute little Barbie to put the moves on them. Chicago may be toddlin’ but New York rocks!
Then it hit me! Damn, I have seen this act before, I had this girl at my bar a couple of years ago. I knew I had a funny feeling when she entered!
See any bartender will tell you this, you really do get a vibe sometimes when someone walks into the bar, good or bad, even though you can’t remember ever meeting them. It’s just there. And then somewhere in the middle of their second drink the previous visit comes thundering back into memory. It’s like… Oh yeah, I remember this prick, he was the guy who…” but by then it’s way too late ’cause you’ve already served him. Twice! And in this case it was also too late because Barbie was already three drinks into her Ken doll. But what started to tax my brain was, what did she do the last time that gave me this feeling? This bad feeling? Why is she overcompensating now, killing me with all this kindness? I mean she hasn’t done anything wrong so far, outside of acute cute-itis, she’s really given no reason for me to 86 her. She isn’t slurring her words, her gait is runway perfect, and other than being a pain in the ass she’s fine. Still good to go.
“Bartender, Sir,” asked Barbie, leaving Ken for a moment and returning to the bar. “Can we get an order of French fries over at that table please?” (Huh???)
“Miss, what is it with you and these French fries? Are you trying to break my chops here or what?”
“What do you mean?” she said, with a look that exuded nothing but pure honesty.
“I’ve been telling you since eleven thirty the kitchen’s closed!!! What part don’t you get?”
“Oh, okay then, thank you, thank you very much.” And with that she gracefully crossed the room to the table. But I had my crack in the ice now, I had my reason to cut her off if need be… her memory was shot. And no sooner had I gotten that thought in my head, my reason to send Miss Barbie back to Toyland, she and her new-found Ken returned to the bar.
“Sir,” said Ken, “could we please have two Manhattan’s when you get a chance?” He was sober, a gentleman and walking on air.
“For who?” I said, not in the best of tones.
“Well, for me and the young lady here if I could.”
“With all due respect, I think the young lady has already had too much. I’d rather not serve her.” And as the light went out of his eyes as though I’d just thrown cold water on his hot future, the light in Barbie’s eyes brightened inversely. Her veneer was impenetrable.
“I’m fine,” she said, “honest, bartender, I’m fine.” With that million dollar smile!
“Miss, please… you look fine, you’re talking fine, I know you think you’re fine but I have to say no. I’m sorry. It’s my job.”
Ken then gave me a pleading look like a kid who was staring at his dad after watching a Disney World commercial. “Sir, please,” he said, “I’ll take care of her, let us have one more drink and I promise we’ll leave. Believe me she’s fine.”
So there I was the heavy in front of these love birds. And though my instincts told me to stick to my guns and definitely not serve this woman, another part of my brain came up with this notion. Since she wasn’t in any way showing drunk in speech or in her movements, and no one was driving a car, they’d all be in taxis, maybe one more drink won’t sink the Titanic. Let the kids have some fun, what the hey? So, much to Chicago’s delight, I said, “Sure.” And just as I started to chill the glasses and fill the tumblers with ice, Barbie said, “And could we also have some French fries?”
“That’s it!” I shouted, not to Chicago’s delight, “Yer’ outta here!!!
And believe it or not when I gave her the bill she acted like nothing had happened, just smiled and said, “Thank you, thank you very much.” Like someone had pulled that string again in her back. It was unbelievable.
So why did I share this story, dear reader, other than to do some venting and blow off some stream here? Simply to say this. That incident marks the first time in my long (illustrious?) career, a career that has seen a lot, believe you me, that I’ve had to cut someone off for fucking French fries. Go figure!!!
Until next week, my friends, thank you so much for reading this, thank you very much!