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

Friday, April 28, 2006

Bronson Arroyo is Hot.

Image hosting by Photobucket
(Washington Post Photo/Jonathan Newton)

That's really all I've got, and I happen to think it's plenty. Meow...

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The One Where the Owner's Daughter Gets Hit On

I find myself with a stacked bar right as the doors open, and I'm not ready. I'm still cutting lemon twists, stocking juices and fetching ice.

My bar guys are from out of town, and unamusing. Important-looking guy with an accent peruses our wine list, chooses a glass, and then sniffs about our prices, claiming he can buy a whole bottle in Italy for the price of a glass at our restaurant. I'm tempted to tell him to go right the fuck ahead and enjoy buying a bottle at his preferred price and drinking it in his back seat while parked in our lot, because that's really all you're going to get for seven Washingtons in The New World, but I need my job, so I smile sweetly and ask him if I should just go ahead and pour. He sniffs (literally), and I take that to mean that yes, it is his will that I pour.

I pour at the pleasure and sniff of the little king. Sniff.

The owner's daughter, a gorgeous, Mediterranean 19 year old, catches the eye of the party, and she ends up being their server. She tacks on the expected 18% gratuity for large parties, but they mark a big "zero" on the "additional gratuity" line. More gracious parties simply leave that line empty when not bumping the tip.

As they depart, one of the guys starts talking to Owner's Daughter. Something about how he went to Harvard, and how busy and important he is. I look up and the rest of his party is impatiently waving for him to catch their shuttle bus. He seems to wave them off, and stays, talking to her, leaning in, intently. I hear him describe the wonders of his Gillette razor advertising campaign to her as I polish glassware.

Trying to protect her, I throw myself into the conversation, uninvited, interjecting that I love Boston and Cambridge, oh gee what fun towns, and what-not. He looks at me as if I am a pigeon, and moves even closer to the server, completely transfixed. I figure him to be about 45. I remind you that she is 19, and doesn't look a day older. Can't blame a guy for trying, I decide...

Eventually, one of his colleagues pops back in (the place is beyond closed and empty) and beckons him. He hands her his business card, says, "Use my cell" and he's ghost like Swayze.

I wait until the door slams to look at her and say, "He was totally trying to pick you up."

"Duh," she replies, casually flipping his card into the half-eaten bowl of Cappellini con Verdura she'd been holding since he first cornered her, while taking her Sidekick from her apron pocket and opening it with impressive dexterity, as she walks away with her stunning, graceful manner toward the kitchen. She carries herself in ways I could only dream of, at her age.

She didn't require one bit of help from me, and she probably texted her friends about it immediately.

Did she make you cry
Make you break down
Shatter your illusions of love
Now, tell me is it over now
Do you know how
To pick up the pieces and go home

Fleetwood Mac, "Gold Dust Woman"

UPDATE, 4-26-06: Razor Gillette showed up again tonight. He asked the host if his favorite server was available.

After listening to his description of her, the host replied, in oblivious honesty, "Oh, you mean, my sister! She's not working tonight."

I hadn't filled him in, yet. I texted her immediately. Duh.

Razor Gillette dined alone at one of our charming little two-tops, and regaled our best and most experienced server, Tina (who is actually from Massachusetts, with the accent and cynicism to back it up) with tales of his days at Boston College, while she grated the parmesan and feigned interest. I overheard her on the line, telling Chef how hilarious this guy was. "He's all, 'I'll take the veal, I'm a Ph.D." I love the sound of Chef laughing heartily, I really do.

The night before, good ol' Razor was a Harvard Man, wasn't he?

Friday, April 21, 2006

Of Local Interest Only?

It really bugs me when I'm watching CNN, and all of a sudden the "Just In/Breaking News" music and graphic comes on, and a serious, rather grave-looking Carol Lin appears to tell me there's a three-alarm house fire in Cleveland. Is that important, nationally? I don't think they should be scaring all of us like that, using music and graphics, for a local interest story. Made ya look!! Oy, the drama...

Remember, way back yonder in the old-timey pre-cable days of yore, when a Network Special Report really meant something? You'd hear that music, see Peter Jennings in a dark suit, and you'd just brace yourself to be informed that something truly horrible had happened, something that would have a profound effect on the nation as a whole.

24-hour cable TV news has taken the teeth out of real breaking news, and they only have themselves to blame. Their audience loses, any way you look at.

That being said, this post may be something only Time Warner cable subscribers would understand. There's plenty of 'em in southwestern Ohio, and probably all over the country, but I'm not sure the entire nation is suffering the effects of cable commercial overload.

Because it's really time to stand up, I would like to say that if Time Warner doesn't cut out that Beep Beep Dot Com shit, I'm pretty sure I'm going to hurt somebody. Why is it that every time the cable company has a new commercial, they cram it down your throat and intentionally crank the volume?

Maybe because they don't have to pay for airtime on their own channels? Just guessing.

I can't be the only one who races for the mute button the moment Jeff Gordon shows up and the crowd starts chanting their demonic, car-shopping mantra, like 30,000 Tom Cruises. There's a second spot, even more insidious, where a man sings Beep Beep Dot Com To Shop For Cars Online until it is literally etched into every pore of your being. Forever.

Can anything be done to stop them?

Some of my friends sit around every evening
and they worry about the times ahead
But everybody else is overwhelmed by indifference
and the promise of an early bed
You either shut up or get cut up
They don't wanna hear about it
It's only inches on the reel-to-reel
And the radio is in the hands of such a lot of fools
Tryin' to anaesthetize the way that you feel

Elvis Costello, "Radio Radio"

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Blue Monday

One of our servers called off sick tonight (smart girl), and another one didn't bother to show up at all (likely fired).

I'm calling it the Post-Easter Rebellion. We were outrageously busy and short-staffed tonight, so bad that I actually had to go out and wait tables. Now, I can't tell you how much I abhor serving. There's nothing wrong with it, and I admire those who do it, but I suck at it. Too much ass-kissing, and way too much work. Plus, I have a feeling the customer can tell that that girl behind the bar is now out at their table, no apron, taking their order. Just feels tacky. I filled out a fake comment card about it.

But, on a weird, short-staffed night like tonight, I've got to do it all. Take your order, make your drinks. Make everyone else's drinks. Serve bar customers. Look out-of-place while waiting tables. It just kind of bugs me. Still... serving is hard. I don't know how you sweeties do it.

I'm already a good tipper, but after getting slammed with unexpected tables tonight, I swear I'll give more next time. It's been a long time since I've had my ass kicked that hard.

Kudos to those of you who are great servers. I like to think I'm the kind of person who can do anything. Clearly, I cannot.

In addition to the busy night on the floor, I entertained a relatively full bar. Nice fellas from Seattle, liked their martinis top shelf, dirty and up. My kinda guys, chatty, fun and flirtatious. They helped my Monday feel not so blue, and make me realize that I'm the kind of girl who belongs behind the bar.

How does it feel to treat me like you do
When you've your hands upon me
And told me who you are
I thought I was mistaken
I thought I heard your words
Tell me, how do I feel
Tell me now, how do I feel

New Order, "Blue Monday"

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Big Dick's Big Gay Tax Refund

Image hosting by Photobucket
(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Happy Tax Filing Day, America!

I know
I pick on the Vice President a little, but he makes it too easy. Just this week, for example, he was loudly jeered and booed as he threw out the first pitch at the Washington Nationals home opener. He looked so uncomfortable as he walked to the mound that for a fleeting moment, I actually felt sorry for him.

I quickly stopped hallucinating, admiring the entire spectacle, thinking it was a pure and perfectly appropriate form of national expression. When you flank yourself with wounded Iraq War Veterans (the cheapest of preemptive anti-boo tricks, if you ask me) on your walk to the mound and you still get jeered, it pretty much means America hates you. Besides, when a guy is at 19% popularity, is it really a good idea to throw him to the unwashed, unscreened masses, in the form of 25,000 Nationals fans, no less?

Shouldn't somebody be fired for that? I remember a time when this administration was more politically shrewd, and I didn't like them then, either.

Now comes the news that Dick is getting a big, fat $1.9 million tax refund. I guess we're to believe that he works hard for the money and has it coming to him or something, but, all things considered, shouldn't he let us keep the money? Just tell the IRS, "Naw, fellas, you just put that back in the coffers. There's a war on, and all!" Maybe a little more action, a little less swagger? Do thoughts such as these even cross the minds of the captains of industry? I wonder if he's a good tipper, Dick Cheney...

Should a Vice President really be making the kind of money that affords him such an obscene refund in the first place? Oh, well. Suck it, and Happy Tax Day to the rest of us public servants, I suppose. For example, one of my coworkers got $250.00 back, and she's hoping it's enough to take the kids to Kings Island.

I hope it is, too.

If life was fair, they'd make Cheney throw out the first pitch at a Tigers game, next.

Now my advice for those who die
Declare the pennies on your eyes
'Cause I'm the taxman
Yeah, I'm the taxman
And you're working for no one but me

The Beatles, "Taxman"

Thursday, April 13, 2006

April is Boring

It's been disappointing to me that I haven't had an interesting story or scenario to share recently, so I got to thinking... why is April so boring?

There's a game that all restaurant workers play called "Why aren't we busy tonight?" In the game, servers, bartenders, chefs and managers stand around and contemplate. Is it the nice weather? The bad weather? Some sporting event? Something on the news? Tax season? Next time you're at a bar or restaurant on a slow night, try to listen to the conversation the workers are having; it's something that I'm certain every restaurant in the world has in common. It's maddening, really, when business is slow, and there's never an explanation for it, but, like clockwork, hospitality workers wrack their brains over it nightly.

For many years now, I've kept a little log book of how much I make in tips each evening. It helps me keep track when tax time comes, and it's also interesting (but mostly depressing) to look back at and see how I used to make a lot more money than I do now. I gotta tell you, the late 1990's were the best when it came to bartending money. I actually felt rich in those days.

One think I've noticed about my little book is that April is an awful month for the bar business. Consistently, I've made horrible money and business has been slow each April.

I wonder what gives... and thinking about my log book, I'm really wondering why I've watched my income go down, down, down ever since, say, honestly, 2001.

Money don't buy everything it's true
What it don't buy I can't use
I want money, that's what I want
That's what I want, oh yeah, that's what I want

The Flying Lizards, "Money" (I like their version best)

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Guest Book

It's called a "Guest Book", and, to prove it, it has the words "Guest Book" emblazoned in fake gold across the leatherette binder, even though it's just window dressing to a "Say Something Nice or Complain Here in Writing" Book.

Nobody ever writes about the bartender in the "Guest Book." It's reserved for musings of the "Loved your food, so authentic, great service!" nature. The owners read the Guest Book like its Hemingway, but I stopped looking at it a long time ago, save for the entries about the random, cool server who received well-deserved recognition, or the ridiculously vulgar entries obviously left by servers' friends, intended to embarrass.
Thanks, especially, for those! They were worth a good laugh before management disappeared them.

Tonight, finally, a random entrant threw a little love to the bar, and he wasn't even a relative. Something about "The food is great, but we really come here for the drinks, lovingly made, nice pours, fantastic bartenders do more than compliment the experience." I say something, but I know what he wrote because I memorized it by heart.

To the anonymous Guest Book Scribe, I'd just like to offer, well, Thank You, you made my evening. A good night, great money, fun people, but sometimes it's just nice to see it in writing. I really never thought I'd get sucked into the feedback, but, hell, who doesn't like to hear how much someone enjoyed their work?

I apologize for the indulgent post, but I still have a favor to ask of diners... consider writing in the Guest Book on your way out of a restaurant when your experience sucked and you just want to leave, and especially if you've had a really, really good time and you want to make someone feel great for an hour or two.

But don't forget to tip, either.

On Edit: It's April 1st, and I thought about a prank, but the only good ones I have are the practical, in-person kind. Instead, I offer this... I'm going to a wedding today. Who gets married on April Fools Day? Is that a good idea?

I drank too much last night, got bills to pay
My head just feels in pain
I missed the bus and there'll be hell today
I'm late for work again
And even if I'm there, they'll all imply that I might not last the day
And then you call me and it's not so bad
It's not so bad and...

Dido, "Thank You"