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

Friday, October 21, 2005

Extra Cherries!

It's an insanely busy Thursday night, piling up at the bar, we're short a server, and the floor manager has a wicked hangover. Bad all the way around.

I love nights like this. Busy nights challenge my skill and temperament. I take pride in being an excellent bartender, and I like to be tested.

I fail the moment I establish the test. Our head server, Bob, orders one Beam Manhattan, two cherries, rocks. I pour two Beam Mahattans, one cherry each, rocks. I move some cherries around, and pass the leftover to our floor manager. He fucking needs it, and he swigs it like a sailor.

Four stools remaining, smack in the middle of the bar. 45-minute wait for dinner. A family of four settles into the seats. Mom, dad, daughter, maybe 9, and son, about 12.

I don't mind kids. I mix the meanest Shirley Temples and Roy Rogers in town, extra cherries! I find it fascinating that parents teach their children to order drinks, something outside of Pepsi and Sprite, all grown-up, really, essentially training them how to sit at a bar, be comfortable, and order. I imagine them in a public service announcement. "My Anti-Drug? Kiddie Cocktails!!!"

More importantly, it's great, the way kids can get so excited about cherries.

Three-deep at the bar by now, with the four-top family occupying my prime real estate, ordering Iced Teas and Shirley Temples, free refills. I find it only mildly irritating, because I'm busy, I'm at the edge of the weeds, I'm having a blast, and my shift is flying by.

Until we get really busy. And the elder child breaks out in song.

"He is the King of Kings! He is the Lord of Lords! His name is Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Ohhh, He is the King!"

It's adorable, in a wholesome way, until you figure in the four well-suited males behind him, sipping Grey Goose martinis and looking incredibly uncomfortable. And the cute ladies at the end of the bar, enjoying Tanq-and-Tonnies, eyeballing his mother. Then, you have servers, slammed with tables, looking at me as if I should somehow make him stop.

And... again. I can't describe how loud and piercing his voice was.

"He is the King of Kings! He is the Lord of Lords! His name is Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Ohhh, He is the King!"

I'm telling you, I couldn't make this stuff up, the kid sang that song for fifteen solid minutes, at the top of his juvenile lungs, while his parents guzzled their bottomless iced teas, oblivious, intent only on plowing through Splenda packets.

By the thirteenth stanza, I had the harmonies worked out in my head, a nice figure in a diminished 7th. The well-suited gentlemen practically bribe the hostess for a table.

Now, he was a sweet child, and he could have been singing "Hit Me Baby One More Time" for all I care, but what exactly is up with parents who surrender all responsibility for their children the very moment in which they put them in the public eye? I'll never understand that.

And, for the record, songs about Jesus, sung in a bar, are buzz-killers. It really doesn't matter how cherubic your child appears.


You just have to take the good with the child Jesus-singers. Toward the end of the night, the hottest Australian male ever born ordered a Chianti Classico and a Penne Campagnola to go. It was a pleasure just to gaze upon him, and I thank him for replacing, "Oh! He Is The King!" with sundry INXS and Crowded House songs in my mental soundtrack. I made flirtatious, lame cultural jokes with him, about hemispheric weather differences, for example, while trying to pour him a second Chianti, but he left abruptly with his utensils and plastic bag, and likely doesn't even know I exist.

Hello Daddy, hello Mom
I'm your ch-ch-ch-ch-ch cherry bomb
Hello world, I'm your wild girl
I'm your ch-ch-ch-ch-ch cherry bomb

- The Runaways, "Cherry Bomb"