Of Bars, Booze, and Bartending - Proving "Coughlin's Law" Invalid Since Feb '05

Saturday, June 25, 2005

A Shot of Girl, Up, No Lime

Interesting 3-top walks into the restaurant, dangerously near to closing. No meals, just cocktails. They're tanned, well-dressed, and chatty. They throw me a 20-spot so the drinks will come faster. I'm ecstatic, and like them immediately.

They're so friendly, an absolute bartender's delight. Shots, cocktails, a bottle of fine (read: ridiculously expensive) wine. Outrageous tips on each round.

The servers are giving me the evil-eye, so I gently ask, "Are you waiting for a table?", as we're very close to our last seating.

"No, just meeting some friends to drink," they reply. Yes!!! My fave-rave customers, the ones who sit at the bar not because they're hungry and on line for a table, killing time, but because they're thirsty, and nothing more. A bartender can respect that.

They're fun, and it's slow otherwise, so I engage them in conversation. Something about being from Cleveland, in Cincinnati for just the weekend, for a big party. I listen and pour.

At this point, the woman begins negotiating "video" with the two men. The older man's cell phone rings incessantly. He mispronounces the name of our restaurant to everyone who calls him. He talks about a hotel, and a suite, and drinks, and sexual preferences, and video, and condoms.

I start to piece it together. They're members of "The Lifestyle." They're swingers.

It was interesting when the next couple arrived. The woman in the earlier party was nervous, and said so to her husband, but when the other couple arrived, she did a quick shot of Beam, which relaxed her a bit. The men quickly rearrange their seating, so that the two women are seated together. They make small talk. Weather, sports, celebrities. Why don't they just get to the point, I'm wondering. The men pretend to be interested in their own small talk, but watch the women with the eyes of a falcon. I begin to think that I should have explored a career in anthropology, because this is fuckin' fascinating.

A third couple arrives and I'm doing the math. Too many men, by my calculation. I do wonder how they'll sort it all out. Then I stop wondering, because it's really too much for a Friday shift I didn't want to work in the first place.

Upon leaving, they tip me again, heavily. They're close to becoming Car Payment Customers. The eldest man in the group palms me a piece of paper. "If you feel a little crazy tonight," he adds. Of course, it s his phone number, instead of the neatly-folded US currency I'd prefer. Uh-huh. After he leaves, I tape it to the main bar register, in an attempt to amuse the staff. They are amused, of course.

What drives people to arrange this, to methodically plan out a meeting at a bar, a few shots, a few glasses of wine, and then off to a random hotel room to fuck each other senseless...

My job is so goddamned interesting, I think to myself, while polishing glassware, and doing a poor job of pretending I don't know what they're all up to..

They can come back anytime they wish. Gracious, and great tippers. A bartender should, in a perfect world, be your last obstacle between good taste and morality.

And there's a rose in a fisted glove

and the eagle flies with the dove

and if you can't be with the one you love

Love the one you're with

Love the one you're with

- Stephen Stills