Thursday, August 7, 2008


I had a request from a commenter (okay, not just any commenter, but a good friend) to share some stories from my bartending days. Two stories popped into my mind.... (Hopefully these are new to you Kaarin!)

I should probably give you all a little background. I come from a small town. Very small. 700 people small. Everyone knows everyone. The sort of town where you can go into your bedroom in the middle of the night, shut off the lights, close your blinds, hide under your covers, and sneeze, and the next day someone will ask you how your cold is.

My first Saturday working at the bar I met LP. Those are his initials, and that's what he goes by. (So much so, that it was a pretty long time before I learned what his name really was.) He's older, about 65. A major alcoholic, but a heart of gold. I know that I could call him at a two in the morning and he would come help me. He might be drunk, but he'd come help me. He's also an incredibly hard worker. He may have a hangover from hell, but he shows up every day (he works construction with small independent company...more on that some other day) and he works hard. He is always sober at work. Hungover, sure. But drunk, never.

LP also called me "Samantha" for the first three months that I worked at the bar. It's not typically much use to correct drunk people, so I just went with it. He did eventually figure out that my name was (still is, I suppose) Amanda; he was more than a little embarrassed. a character. I'd try to explain him, but I think this story will illustrate it better than a mere description ever could.

That day, there was a funeral. About six of the younger members of the family came in to the bar to lighten the mood. They had been there for about 20 minutes when LP walked in. Very drunk. Of course, he sat down with the "mourners" and made himself at home. It's been a couple of years, so you'll have to forgive me for forgetting how the conversation started, but it ended like this:

LP: And then I went skydiving! [The closest LP has ever been to skydiving is falling down the stairs.]
Mourners: Really? Did you land okay?
LP: Well of course I landed okay! I landed on the back of a bull!
M: A bull?
LP: A buckin' bronco!
M: You just landed square on its back, huh?
LP: Well it took a lot of practice, but I managed. I never get hangovers.
M: Huh? [Clearly, the mourners were not yet accustomed to LP's rapid-fire conversational changes.]
LP: Nope, I never get 'em anymore. [Yes, kids, it's true. If you start going through your days in a drunken haze, you, too, will be hang-over free by 65. Of course, you'll also be spouse-free, because you will be unbearable to live with, but hey, we all make sacrifices.]
M: So what's your secret? I heard once you should chug a Gatorade before bed; does that work?
LP: You know what my problem is?
M: No, what, LP?
LP: I can get it UP, but I can't get it to go back DOWN.
*maniacal laughter as the conversation further disintegrates*

Ahhh, that's LP for you. I can't tell you how many times I heard about skydiving-bullriding. Naturally, he never did just one or the other. He always skydived (skydove?) onto the back of the bull. (As for reality? I think I used to do some bull riding when he was younger. Much younger. But I'm quite certain he never skydived [skydove?] and certainly never skydived/dove onto the back of a bull.)

I've got one more short bartending story to regale you with.

I suppose I should change names. Let's call this guy....Harold. (He'd hate me if I knew I was re-naming him "Harold".) Harold is LP's boss. If possible, he makes LP look sober. They're two of a kind. (Actually, three of a kind. They're a three-person construction crew, with one woman who we'll call, um, Sally. Harold and LP have similar work ethics: they play hard, but they work hard--and sober. Sally has no such compunctions about working sober. But we'll save her for another day.)

Harold, also, has a heart of gold. He's about 65, and is some ways is a dirty old man, but he's one of the sweetest people I know. He was always asking about Ryan (who he consistently referred to as Brian; when you're in a drunken haze for much of your life, it's hard to keep names straight), trying to make sure he was treating me okay. If he had ever had even a faint suspicion that Ryan was mis-treating me, he would hunted him down with out a second thought. He has always been a drinker, but when his wife died of cancer about 10 years ago, he just sank deeper into the pit of alcoholism. I have never met any many who loved his wife as much as Harold still loves her.

But enough waxing sentimental about Harold. This is a funny story.

Harold does contract construction work for the state. All the people for whom he does work are getting the work done for free. Presumably, they are poor and cannot afford to do these repairs themselves. Understandably, it was Harold's pet peeve to walk into these homes and realize that, while they were without a front door, they had a big-screen TV sitting in the living room. Here's how the conversation went that day:

Harold: So we go into this guy's trailer and he's got a 60" big screen TV. His living room was so small, we weren't more than 6 feet from the TV.
Sally: The picture on that screen was unbelievable. It was huge.
*silence, as we meditate upon the awesome hugeness of this TV*
Me: Can you imagine watching porn on that?
My boss: Yeah, I was thinking that, I just didn't want to say it.

And I think I'll leave you today with that.

Next time: marital advice from random construction workers!