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

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Shortstop Devil Woman


Nomar had a terribly painful at-bat against the Cardinals tonight... it's all over ESPN, and it's so cringeworthy, it makes you turn away.

Unless you're a fantasy baseball addict. I've been in the same league with a bunch of guys for years now, and last season suffered an ego-bruising dead last, having won the year prior to that. This season, following little study, I employed the loaded infield draft strategy, and ended up with Nomar as my shortstop. Third-string. I also drafted Miguel Tejada, and Édgar Rentería.

Hey, it's a shallow league. And we're getting cheaper and lazier through the years, using Yahoo's free leagues with auto-draft and pre-ranking. Plus, my draft strategy could have used a little tweaking.

Everyone is allowed three rationalizations per day. It's my favorite made-up rule of life.

Until tonight, I was able to dangle any of my three top-tier shortstops as trade bait, but it doesn't look promising for Garciaparra. 15-day DL at least. I should have dangled him a week ago, when the league dubbed me, "Shortstop Devil Woman." OK, really only one of the owners dubbed me that, but he's a jackass.

At least it's still April. And having Tejada as your starter and Rentería on the bench -- not too shabby!

I used to be a lot better at fantasy baseball.

I can tell you my love for you will still be strong
After the Boys of Summer have gone

Well, Nomar's had his MRI and it appears his muscle tore away from the bone. In his groin.


He'll be lucky if he's back before August. Poop.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Tavern Wench has a new look!

And, in the process of updating and re-formatting, I unintentionally wiped out my links and comments.

I suck, but at least the site is prettier now. Style over substance, as I always say. Even though I don't ever say that...

I'm droppin' Broccoli! I'm droppin' Broc-oh-lye-hiiiii

In an ancient SNL skit, Dana Carvey sang about choppin' broccoli. The song rang through my head most of the evening.

It's Monday, my weekly serving shift. Starts off slow, and builds into a furious, unexpected pace. It's hard to get into the zone after playing cards with the wait staff for the first hour of the dining period.

My first table is a cute deuce, two ladies, one making certain to mention the other one's birthday to me.
We don't sing here, but there's a free cheap birthday cake in it for ya if you let us know.

At the end of dinner, one has cleaned her plate, and the other has meticulously separated all of of her grilled-tilapia-no-pasta-double-veg into neat stacks of cut, uneaten fish, cauliflower remains and untouched broccoli. I'm thinking that the stacks are a bit obsessive-compulsive. "Would you like me to box that up for you?" I inquire, trying desperately not to raise a tell-tale eyebrow. "Just the broccoli," she replies.

I'm in the kitchen, scraping broccoli into the box, while one of the bussers tells a story about his weekend that has most of us in hysterics. Wiping tears of laughter from my eyes, I look at my styrofoam box and realize I've scraped at least one half of her meticulously-stacked broccoli onto the floor.

I panic for a moment, and then decide just to cellophane the remaining, likely precious broccoli into a box. I'd rather just give her what's left than box up veggies that hit the floor, however momentarily, during a funny busser moment.

Hours later, I imagine that if she really is as obsessive as she appeared, she's freaking out about that broccoli right about now. "Bitch ate half my broccoli," she's thinking. I'm actually concerned about what she's thinking.

After the shift ended, while digging through my chic bistro apron for breath mints, I retrieve a greasy, withered stem of broccoli. It lathers my hand, and of course my apron, in oil and veggie-smell. I pretty much deserved it.

Overall, a decent evening. I enjoyed my last four-top; an animated, Latin-accented woman literally held court, telling her tablemates fascinating tales of her recent trip on the notorious, CNN headlined
Cruise From Hell. Apparently, she'd ditched the boat in Charleston on Sunday. Before you knew it, most of the wait staff and other customers were huddled around her stories.

She was a delight, and they called me "darling" and "adorable," and left far more than necessary as a tip.

There are worse ways to spend a Monday evening, my friends.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Ben Affleck - Last of the Great Big Tippers?

While enjoying a cut and re-touch color at the salon today, I flipped through the newest Us Weekly, a guilty pleasure reserved only for girly salon days. Or so I tell myself. I eat the celeb gossip stuff like it's free steak.

It featured an article about Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner (Bennifer Deux?) enjoying lunch at some trendy LA power lunch joint, and tipping $70 on a $40 check. A $40 check for lunch in Los Angeles. Who knew?

Ben's becoming reknowned for his above-the-top tipping habits. I do hope it becomes a trend among celebrities, but he's the one whose generosity is written about most.

Since Ben's generosity is high on the tabloid fodder list, I do think it's time for all of us to acknowledge the wonderful example he sets for those who have too much. And we simply must give props to Ben for knowing how to work publicity. I'm finally willing to forgive him for his portrayal of a randy bartender in "200 Cigarettes."

Historical proof of why wait staff of all stripes love Ben Affleck:

National Enquirer - July 2003

Ben Affleck's not totally J.Lo-whipped! Poolside in Vegas under the watchful eye of his tightfisted fiance, generous Ben.Lo -- who'd won big at the gaming tables -- gave their waiter a $100 tip. But when Jennifer excused herself for a moment, he called the guy back and slipped him another FIVE Benjamins!

Premiere Magazine - Undated; likely J-Lo Era

Certainly not Affleck; he has been tipping the cocktail waitresses with $100 chips. He knows it won't last forever, and he wants to make the most of it.

OK, Affleck's obviously a great tipper, and it amuses me to imagine bartenders/cocktailers/servers/dealers fighting over him.

But I'd like to see Ben work on his screenplay choices.

If you're a fan of "Armageddon", be prepared to defend it vigorously. That's what the comment section is for.

At any rate, I raise my glass to Ben Affleck. Thanks, on behalf of all of us, for feeling the power of walking into an eatery and making someone's day. It's obvious he gets as much a kick out of it as we do.

Oh, and thanks for the latest "Project Greenlight", too, Ben! The unstable director, Gulager, is the best casting job I've ever witnessed.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Nobody's Really Allergic To Parsley... Are They?

I realize I go on a bit about Waiter Rant, but it's simply the best blog involving the service industry. I'm admittedly a Fan Girl! This post is a nod to his excellent writing and story-telling, and for that I apogize in advance as I doubt my serving stories will measure up.

But, here goes.

Oh, how I abhor my serving shift. One night a week, I step out from behind the cozy bar confines and try my hand at serving dinner. I'll be honest. Serving is the hardest job in any restaurant. It's difficult to carry those trays, smile, repeat specials and salad dressings without smirking, taking shit from the kitchen all the while. Bartenders don't have to kiss much ass. There's a bit of swagger attached to bartending, and you can get away with much more. In serving, it's all about the precious customer.

Don't even begin, for one second, to feel sorry for servers. Don't think, for one moment, about feeling superior, either. It's the hardest job in the restaurant because it's the best paying job in the restaurant.

I like to keep my hand in it, and Monday nights are relatively mellow, so I enjoy working the floor.

Four-top reservation comes in, my first table. First couple arrives early, I greet the table with bread while the busser pours water. "What can I bring you to drink? Wine? Cocktail?" I suggest. I always push the booze, it's likely what makes me less than gracious. Also, being a bartender at heart, I'm all about libations. Lubricating customers makes them easier to deal with... pretty much one of life's great lessons.

Of course, they don't nibble. It's Monday. The woman in the party, without looking at me, says "Iced tea. No lemon." Her husband, staring at his menu, says nothing. I wait for an uncomfortably long time before giving up and fetching the iced tea. As I return, the other couple arrives. Before sitting down, Husband #2 barks "Chianti!" His wife scolds him, but he looks me in the eye so I bring it to him promptly. Wife #2 never looked at me, and never ordered a drink.

Why is it that some customers refuse to look a server in the eye...?

They place orders quickly, all the while staring at menus. "Pollo Picatta, absolutely no parsley!" Wife #2 demands. "She's very allergic," Husband #2 adds, unprompted. He catches my eye and appears quite serious. I think of that Sex and the City episode where Carrie's hottest boyfriend ever, the writer, Berger, who eventually dumps her, challenges her on her alleged "parsley allergy."

"Nobody's allergic to parsley, you just don't like it! Just tell the waiter that! He gets it," he pleads. Carrie sobbed, called out on her behavior by the very type of customer most wait staff prefer. Of course the show led us to believe that Berger was bad, a man with a temper. How dare he correct Carrie in public? In front of a lowly server no less!

I liked that Berger dumped Carrie. He was far too good for her. I drifted from the job at hand, and it's a blessing that I even remembered their salad choices while blocking out the thought of Sarah Jessica Parker having sex with Mikhail Baryshnikov, an obvious Berger rebound. The things that cross your mind when you should be concentrating...

We're running a bit behind tonight, and it's been about six months since I cleared salad plates. I'm leaning on the kitchen a bit. Just as I'm finally picking up the Pollo Picatta No Fucking Parsley, one of the other servers, in a very well-intended attempt to help me, is busy applying parsley to each of my plates. I pretty much freak out.

The kitchen, not even giving me much shit for a change (refreshing!! because it wasn't their fault and they'll revel in telling this dumb server parsley story endlessly), re-plates the food and cooks Wife #2 a fresh plate. Allergies, albeit alleged, are taken seriously by all.

The four-top requested separate checks, as each held a $10 off coupon. Now, we only give these precious cards to the rare and pushy customers who have complained enough to management about their food/service on a previous visit, so as soon as a server sees this coupon, their heart sinks a little. No-Parsley-Ever Couple tips me $3.00 on an adjusted $45.00 check. Couple #1 tips me $11.00 on an adjusted $60.00 check. What in the...?

No Parsley never knew what we did for her and her party, behind the scenes. It's a shame, isn't it?

Serving. The hardest job in the business. Certainly the most ego-crushing. Good thing it pays well in the long run. It takes a thick skin and a heavy dose of humor.

Thank goodness for that delightful three-top with the $134 check and the $40 tip. Next time, I think I'll write about them. But writing about nice people wouldn't be as interesting, would it?

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Thievery, Alec Baldwin, and Wine Keys

One of the truly great servers, Tina, dealt with a four-top tonight who accused her of stealing their credit card.

Poor thing. She had to drag Owner's Wife over to the table, and plead with the four to look into their wallets to see if the card could be found. Of course one of the four had mistakenly placed it in his own wallet. No apologies were made. Tip was standard.

Meanwhile, a different four-top had been seated in her section. Busy solving problems with Table J'Accuse, she had neglected her newest table. When she finally had a moment to take their orders, after apologizing profusely, one of the table mates said, "Thank you for acknowledging your sloth," or something even more eye-roll worthy, as she described it. Again, maintaining her bad four-top streak, one of the party ordered veal, which had been 86'd by the kitchen, unbeknownst to Tina, during the time she dealt with Table J'Accuse.

When she asked for a Sam Adams and Manhattan on the fly, I leapfrogged her to the top of the order while she literally ripped the Sammy and glass out of my hand.

A toast to Tina, who held her shit together during a night of hell, while remaining more kind and professional to all than reasonably expected. This is the stuff which defines great servers. Appreciate!!

Waiter has a great post about servers and wine openers. It's a given that servers will forget/lose/apologize about wine keys every single night. I tend to pack two of my favorites, and one backup, for that reason. I'll lend out two and keep one. Every. Single. Evening.

Servers, take good care of your wine keys. I do hate to scold, but a wine key is as much a part of your uniform as your shirt, apron and pen. And if not, take good care of your bartenders who snarkily lend you their wine openers, and believe me, we hold them precious and dear to our tendin' hearts. Return them, and don't bitch about those crazy double-hinged pulltaps and how you don't know how to use them, and shit. Beggars shouldn't be choosers. Say thanks, and give us an extra buck tip-out. Just because you forgot yours, and we remembered yours.

Am I wrong to enjoy Alec Baldwin? I know he's a bit bloated, and political, but I just get the biggest kick out of him. I revealed this to my coworkers tonight during the after-work wine-n-chat, and was confronted by moans. I guess it's just me.

To Alec, and Tina. Two of my favorites.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Saturday Night's All Right For Fightin'

It's Saturday, two hours until I have to show up for work. Time to hop in the shower, hot rollers, lots of dolling up. We're completely booked with reservations tonight, so I'm hoping for a loooooooong wait at the bar and lots, lots, lots of ducats.

Wish me luck? Tavern Wench is beyond broke.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Camille Paglia Slams Bloggers, Continuing Streak of Irrelevance, in New Book

In a snooty new Salon (under new management!) article, Camille Paglia "slams bloggers and trendy academics for degrading language -- and calls for a passionate revival of the great artistic tradition of the West."

Read on for more snobby bullshit:


Allow me to be the first so say Fuck Camille Paglia, and the Ivory Tower She Rode In On.

If America can unite on one issue, it's that we're collectively over Camille "I wouldn't know the Real World if it bit me in my flabby, I'm hotter than I think I am ass" Paglia. Right?

A selection of her self-important greatness:

The blogs, for example, are becoming so self-referential. If people want to be better writers, they can't just read the blogs! You've got to look at something that's outside this rushing world of evanescent words. Nowhere in blog pages does anyone pay attention to the individual word -- things are moving too fast. Someone like Emily Dickinson was working with the dictionary and looking at the etymology of the word, so that you have all this tremendous stuff going on within a single word!

Blogs are becoming self-referential? Is Camille that out of touch? Thanks, Captain Obvious, for defining "blog = diary" for me.

In bartending news, one of our underage barbacks has taken a liking to vermouth, room temperature, mixed with a splash of Apple Pucker (room temperature, vile at any temperature). Caught him this evening, while he thought I was stocking beer.

I'm far more concerned about his lack of alcohol knowledge than his 1-year-from-legal status. Of course he's going to drink. But vermouth?

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Quest for The Great White Russian

Bartenders of the world, a plea... please begin, if you haven't already, using Stoli Vanilla (or the call vanilla vodka of your choice) in your White Russians. Use nothing less than whole milk; half-n-half is preferable. Of course, heavy cream makes it simply divine. Kahlua, and Kahlua only. Unless you're running some kind of Happy Hour, in which case DeKuyper, I suppose. Try building it on ice in a snifter, they look even more delightful that way. Lightly stir after adding the cream; give it a little swirly color. Say "cheers" as you serve it, and think of the one you're going to make yourself the second your shift ends.

Put a little love in your White Russians. One of the classics.

Snow Geese

I paced the bar like a lioness tonight. There was little or nothing to do, and it just made me nervous. I desperately wanted to appear busy to the bored customers who seemed to stare at the bar all evening.

A newlywed couple of Canadian Snow Geese have set up house in our parking lot, and it's most unfortunate for them. Our owner moved their lone, large egg, hoping they'd set off to look for it, but the couple remain. A part of me feels that we should think like the bird, and possibly destroy her next egg, making her think a predator was nearby and that her nesting place wasn't safe. But who could actually perform the act of destroying the egg?

Yes, the evening was that slow. A few April Fools' Pranks would have helped, but nobody seemed in the mood.

Our beloved Joe and Rosemary dined at the Tavern again tonight. Owner's Wife let it be known that it was Joe's birthday, and we all decided to serenade him. At the given moment, most of the back and front of house staff encircled his table and sang a hearty "Happy Birthday." Watching him become a little misty-eyed was our reward. I think it would be fun to have April Fools' Day as your birthday!

Shortly before our serenade, a customer inquired of Angela, "We're celebrating tonight! Could the staff sing 'Happy Birthday'?"

"No, we don't do that here," Angela replied. "But I'll bring you a free dessert with candles!"

Angela wasn't looking forward to closing that check.

Happy Birthday, Joe!