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

Sunday, June 22, 2008


One of those things I'll never understand is the nightly guy, who, it never fails, around 2:00 am and pretty much crocked off his ass, implores the bartender to sell him carry-out beer. And not carry-out beer at the bar price, mind you, but at some mythical price of his own choosing. This kind of guest will negotiate and barter until he finally just gives up or his friends drag him out.

Arguing with drunk people is a very trying exercise, especially at the end of a long and busy night where the bartender has just about had her fill and the previously enjoyable customers are now to the point where they start commenting about your nice ass or ask whether your coworker is single while their date is in the bathroom. But it just kills me when they don't understand why you can't sell them a twelve-pack to go.

"Well, I can't sell it to you because we're not that kind of bar. You might be able to find that kind of bar, but even their cut-off is 1:00 am and you shouldn't be driving around pushing your luck anyway, so looks like you'll just have to make do with the buzz you already have. You'll thank me in the morning."

"Let's say you sold me a twelve-pack, c'mon. How much would you charge, you could do it, I've been a good tipper all night, you could hook me up." (Actually, he tipped $18.00 on a particularly annoying $132.00 tab of Jäger-Bombs, Miller Lite, Washington Apples and White Zin, so we all lost our patience at the precise moment he tabbed out.)

(Doing quick math in head) "$42.00. But I'm not going to sell it to you, and even if I were, would you really pay $42.00 for it?"

"You've got to be kidding me! You're ripping me off! Hook me up! Hook me up!"

"I'm actually pretty serious right now. But it's a moot point. No beer for you."

Here's the thing, party people.... you just gotta plan ahead. Make sure there's a twelve-pack of that crappy beer you've been drinking waiting for you in the fridge at home after a long night of drinking too much.

Isn't it funny... just when people get to the point where they've had one too many, they somehow feel an irresistable urge to drink twelve more?

I have cursed, bled and sworn
Jumped bail and landed up in jail
Life has often tried to stretch me
But the rope always was slack
And now that I've a pile
I'll go down to the Chelsea
I'll walk in on my feet
But I'll leave there on my back
Oh the words that he spoke
Seemed the wisest of philosophies
There's nothing ever gained
By a wet thing called a tear
When the world is too dark
And I need the light inside of me
I'll go into a bar and drink
Fifteen pints of beer

The Pogues, "Streams of Whiskey"

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Department of Very Weak Bar Come-Ons

Tonight from the front lines:

Tipsy (but not drunk) Guest: "I'm only here another night, let me take you out and you can show me the town."

Bartender (pointing at Tipsy Guest's wedding ring): "Maybe you should call your spouse and see if she'll Google up some Cincinnati maps for you! Or maybe you should just call her, anyway."

Tipsy Guest (not missing a beat): "Hey, I'm not married, but my wife is!!"

Bartender (not missing a beat): "Hey, 1961 called! It wants its Rat Pack pick-up line back!"

Much uncomfortable laughter ensues from Tipsy Guest's unfortunate coworkers. I think he might have been their boss.

To be fair... decent tipper, after all that.

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

I Already Miss Sunday Mornings.

I don't intend this to indict the service industry or its customers as a whole, but I was taken aback today when I attempted to discuss yesterday's sudden and shocking death of Tim Russert with my customers and coworkers.

With very few exceptions, the people I talked to did not know who Russert was, although a handful had heard that some random guy who used to be on TV died. After a few initial "Who?" responses, I made it a mission and just started surveying everybody I ran into at the bar. I was trying to personally debunk what was right before my eyes.

"Wow, Tim Russert, what do you think?"


"Tim Russert, NBC, Meet The Press? Died on Friday?"

"I guess. I don't know. Heard something about it, don't know who he is. But that really sucks."

It saddens me to offer this rather general but accurate characterization of the responses I received during my unscientific survey, but it surprises me as well. It's hard for me to understand how people could be so wholly uninterested in current events and the world that surrounds them to have never heard of Tim Russert. I have no idea what to make of it, but am curious if these same people will be telling me, later this fall, that they can't vote for Obama because he's a Muslim or refuses to say the pledge of allegiance or such other email spam crap garbage that dumbs us down and poisons our discourse, year after year after year.

If you've never heard of Tim Russert, I'm not so sure you should be talking about politics at all. It is such a shame that so many people never took a moment to learn something from him.

Sunday morning will feel very strange and unsettled and empty, won't it? Although he's been touchingly eulogized by many media figures, I'm not really sure it's sunk in, to be honest. He will be missed by people like me who so looked forward to those lazy Sundays, that steaming cup of coffee, and those challenging, sometimes squirmy interviews. The whole thing seems so unfair, because, especially this year, it was a joy and pleasure to watch a man so much more connected and important than I am appear boundlessly giddy while covering an historic election. The agony and pain his family must be going through just breaks my heart.

I'm not even sure I want to turn on my television tomorrow. I'm sure that there will be a warm tribute to him this Sunday morning, but I think the best way for me to personally remember him is to simply leave the TV dark.

Rest in peace, Tim. And I lift a pint to you. They say you were a big Springsteen fan, so...

I was eight years old and running with a dime in my hand
Into the bus stop to pick up a paper for my old man
I'd sit on his lap in that big old Buick and steer as we drove through town
He'd tousle my hair and say son, take a good look around
This is your hometown
This is your hometown
This is your hometown
This is your hometown

Main Street's whitewashed windows and vacant stores
Seems like there ain't nobody wants to come down here no more
They're closing down the textile mill 'cross the railroad tracks
Foreman says "these jobs are goin', boys, and they ain't coming back
To your hometown"

Bruce Springsteen, "My Hometown"

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

There Goes The King, There Goes The Big Number One

Maybe it's the bartender in me, or maybe it's just the beer enthusiast talking. But there's something about the proposed purchase of Anheuser-Busch by InBev that just really, really bugs me.

There's something so uniquely American about Budweiser that I can't imagine it being foreign-owned. The CEO promises no U.S. breweries would be closed, but color me skeptical; I just have this awful feeling that somehow this is going to shake down as a bad deal for workers. I certainly hope I'm wrong this time. And I might have to break my long streak and actually tune into CNN to find out what Lou Dobbs is saying.

On a lighter note, while looking for the lyrics to the Budweiser Jingle, one of my all-time favorites, I learned that Sonny & Cher recorded a song called "When You Say Love" written to the tune of the beloved jingle. It reached #32 on Billboard in 1972. You really do learn something every day... and I'd love to buy a Bud for anyone who can honestly tell me they actually remember the Sonny & Cher version!

Here comes the King, here comes the Big Number One
Budweiser beer is beer that's second to none
The King is calling, so loud and clear
There's only one Budweiser beer
When you say Bud you've said it all
When you say Bud you've said it all!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Now Hiring for Summer Employment

Edited on June 12, 2008

I've decided to take this post down for reasons I imagine those who read it can sympathize with. I apologize for any confusion to my readers who read the original post, and those who did not. It revealed personal details about a coworker of mine, and I'm concerned that were this person to read the post, he might wonder why I did not ask permission to write about him. Please do trust that nothing in the post was hurtful; rather, it was full of concern and worry on my part and I've decided it really wasn't appropriate to write about in the first place. Of course I realize nothing on the internet disappears forever, but I felt the least I could do was to attempt to just, I don't know, take it back somehow, and reach out to the coworker in a far less public way.

Again, my apologies to everyone involved. Should you have any concerns after reading this edit, please feel free to email me.

And if you haven't heard the song below in awhile, or ever, you really should give it a listen. :-)

In this proud land we grew up strong
We were wanted all along
I was taught to fight, taught to win
I never thought I could fail
No fight left or so it seems, I am a man whose dreams have all deserted
I've changed my face, I've changed my name
But no one wants you when you lose

Don't give up, 'cause you have friends
Don't give up, you're not beaten yet
Don't give up, I know you can make it good

Though I saw it all around
Never thought that I could be affected
Thought that we'd be last to go
It is so strange, the way things turn

- Peter Gabriel with Kate Bush, "Don't Give Up"

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