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

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

How I Know When To Cut You Off

Let's pretend you're Lieutenant Dan.

Now, Lieutenant Dan is a regular, an every day, set-your-clock-it's-5:30-here-comes-Lieutenant Dan kind of regular. So, he's a good example.

Our front-of-house manager gave him his nickname about three nights into his regularity, right after he showed up in town, a journeyman boarding across the street. The nickname suits him somehow.

Last Saturday night, Lieutenant Dan rolls in around seven, looking a little buzzed. He doesn't usually show up on a Saturday, so we knew he was up to something.

Lieutenant Dan isn't in his usual spot, mid-bar. Tonight, he's positioned himself at the end of the bar and adjacent to the service bar, where the servers pick up the drinks they've ordered for their tables.

Four Budweisers in, and I catch him sniffing hair. He leans over while one of our more gorgeous servers collects her drinks, and he takes a big whiff.

"Another Bud, Jen!" he cries, moments after the act. We pretend not to hear him.

"Hey, can I buy you guys a shot?" he cries, since we've ignored him for about ten seconds.

(Big clue that you're over the limit: you're by yourself, or with another guy, and you offer the bartenders shots. We appreciate the gesture, and if early/late enough into the shift, might take you up on it. But you're on watch the second you make the offer. Does not apply to bachelor parties.)

My bartending partner says, "We should cut him off. Did you catch him smelling Angela's hair?"

"Go right ahead, I've got your back," I say, hoping she's fired-up enough to give him the bad news.

"I'm pretty sure I clocked out, like twenty minutes ago."

She's got one helluva point. (She only agreed to stick around until I'm out of the weeds, and to earn a shift drink)

I saunter up to Lt. Dan. "You've got a few sips left," I say to him, pointing at the bottle he's playing with in his hand.

"I love your big ass!" he says, throwing his head back in a guffaw that would make an Arkansas mule proud.

I'm stung, a little bit. Lieutenant Dan has been coming here for awhile now, he's never been so rude.

Plus, I'm a size four.

I pull my shit together and decide to give him the toddler treatment. It's drunk-appropriate. He needs a mommy.

"Honey, that's your last beer," I tell him. "When you finish it, you need to go home."

"Uh-huh. Need to go," he replies.

He swallows a sip, fumbles in his pocket, pulls out a cigarette. Lights it. It's a smoke-free establishment.

I snatch it from his mouth and throw it in the sink.

"Time for you to go, you're walking to the hotel, right?" I tell him.

"Time to go," he mumbles. He pulls another cigarette from the pack, looks at me, and sticks it behind his ear. By now, the owner has appeared behind the bar, apparently warned about a harmless bar situation that was clearly under control. He's a big Italian guy, and looks menacing. He likes this kind of stuff, but it's unwarranted.

Lieutenant Dan uses the restroom, gives a meek wave, tips me poorly, and goes about his business.

When I saw him again today, he said, "What happened Saturday?"

"You were leering at servers, even smelling their hair, it was weird," I told him.

"Is that all?" he laughed.

"Well, you did insinuate that I had a big ass," I told him.

He turned every shade of red. I gave him a Budweiser.

"Guess I'm paying for that one?" he asks.

"Triple," I tell him.

"You have no idea," I'm thinking.