Your friendly bartender has often found it humorous, if not enlightening, how different customers decide to call for their checks. For it’s often either high pantomime or low revelation. (The latter being the guy who reveals bad manners.) “Bartender, give me my check,” he’ll shout, regardless of what you’re doing, as if his helicopter just landed on the roof. And when you finally do hurry over with his check, having run his card through the machine… hurrying lest America be deprived of his presence… this hump won’t sign his bill for another ten minutes. He’ll talk and talk while still holding court, or worse, he’ll order another, which you’d rather pour down his pants than into his glass.
But let’s not talk about guys like that, there’s too much fun to be had, the fun of reading the gestures of Barland pantomimists…
#1: Jack the Ripper. This is the guy who waves his hand like the smartest kid in class, who when finally noticed by me in this case makes a slashing gesture neatly across his throat. “I’m cutting myself off,” he’s saying, his pantomime leaving no doubt he’s killing his evening.
#2: Miss Palmer (method). Here we have the professor type, that person who looks for all the world like she’s writing her words on a chalkboard, when in truth she’s writing her message on a slate of thin air. She’ll form her hand as if holding chalk, scrawl her invisible words, which to me clearly read in bold print, “Write up my check!” So I write up her check. And I like this sensible classroom approach, it’s clean and right to the point, unless the following happens which sometimes does. I’ll notice her doing her pantomime, I’ll tally and write up her tab, only to find that she wants to borrow a pen… to write down a song request. So I gladly oblige and hand her a pen (ever the good “student”), especially if she is as sweet as I am “dyslexic”.
#3: Billy the Bookie. This type you have to see to believe because once he has your attention, he’ll look back over each shoulder, turn up a palm creating a pad, then jot with the other hand his cryptic message. And not for nothin’… I’ve actually seen these guys wet a finger on the hand that’s doing the jotting, just like the bookmaker does when wetting a pencil point. But the good part is… “odds are” during the “payout” he’ll leave a big tip. It’s the wise guy way.
#4: Third Base Coach. First he waves both hands in the air then shakes his head “no”, then gives me enough additional signs that I feel like I’m up at the plate with a 3 and 0 count. But this guy’s usually ridiculously drunk or simply new at the game, so with him I take no chances at reading his signals. Meaning, rather than swing on a “3 and 0 count” I go down and ask him just what the fuck he is saying. “Uh, let me just have my check,” he’ll reply, which I do and then send him “home”, as if I’m now the third base coach and he’s rounding third.
#5: The Umpire. Staying with the national pastime theme, this guy should wear a blue suit and maybe a mask. Why? Because all the signals he sends me are straight from home plate. First he’ll enact the “safe” sign move, running both hands over his drink, then gesture a quick “‘yer out!” with his right hand. As if saying, “I’m outta’ here!” Try those gestures yourself, dear reader… do “safe” and then “yer’ out”… and you’ll see first hand how he’s sending himself to the showers.
And those are just a few of the mimes who mine the art of gesture, instead of just saying, “Bartender, I’ll have my check.” But if any of you have a type you know, a type you’ve observed in a bar, please feel free to add to the list up above. After all, your friendly bartender hasn’t all the answers or as Regis Philbin once wrote, “I’m only one man!”
See you next week-end.