THE BARTENDER KNOWS #23
Happy late Valentine’s Day all! God, what a fantastic day. It’s a time for love and the expression of love. It’s a time for presents and gifts for those who love and want to share their love with others. Now, the more cynical people out there despise holidays like this, and for good reason. I’ve heard every reason under the sun why it’s a terrible holiday. It’s a corporate sham made to make people feel guilty for not loving enough. It’s a silly way to spike a romantic fire back into a dying relationship. It’s a holiday developed by the Hallmark Card Company.
Ok. I get it. My Mother (the great Angel and Feminist Icon of our time) once told me: “I celebrate every holiday.”
“But why Mom? Aren’t all holidays just dumb creations based on outdated myths?” (Yes. I, too, was a nihilistic bastard of a child). But she had the perfect retort.
“Life is hard enough, Matthew. Anytime a person can celebrate something in their life, that’s good enough. Life is short. Enjoy every day and every holiday you can while you’re still alive.”
As an adult, I take all of this to heart. I celebrate all the holidays now, whether I believe in them or not. Because — why not? Most celebrations involve eating and drinking, and trust me, dear readers, I’m great at doing both.
So let me regale you with my tale about this 2023 Valentine’s Day. Let me paint the picture. Here’s me. I’m in Brooklyn, New York City. I go to my regular local bar. I’m working on the next novel. There I am, scribbling away. Before I know it, I look up from my ink and ire and there appears a totally random dude sitting at the bar stool next to me. Like, too close. As in every stool was empty in the bar. But the one next to me was quickly occupied by this weird motherfucker.
I would like to say he seemed “normal enough.” But he wasn’t. First things first, he didn’t have a drink. The nice bartender lady even asked him: “Can I get you anything?”
“No,” he said, all mealy-mouthed. “I’m not drinking until later.”
Right then, the bartender gave me a look. She knew it and I knew it. This dude was weird. I mean, it’s cool if you don’t drink anymore and want to hang out at a bar. I get it. I know plenty of recovering drunks. But this guy didn’t have a soda water or anything. I should have known something was off. But I was in a good mood. Long story short — I went to the bathroom three times, leaving my open drink on the bar without even thinking about it. Things seemed to be fine. I felt lovely and euphoric.
Until I left the bar.
I got home an hour later. That’s when the evil started. Now, friends, I can drink. And when I say I can drink, I mean the amount I’m able to handle drinking could probably kill a small horse. I don’t fall down. I don’t slur my words. I don’t get into fights, argue irrationally, or feel in anyway in ill form. I got home that night and something foul brewed up in my stomach. I puked up a clear and bizarre liquid like I was possessed by the same demon as that poor girl in the Exorcist film. Not to get gross — but the Devil came out of me that night, boy. My poor kitchen floor. That clean up was no fun.
I woke up hours later on my floor. I had to ask myself the question: “what the fuck?” I can drink. I’m a bartender. I never feel sick. I never feel sleepy or tired. That night, however, I was fucked up. I did a little Sherlock Holmes sleuthing. The connections became very clear. My whole Valentine’s Day flashed in front of me.
Think about it. Weird dude rolling up next to me on Valentine’s Day night. I, like a dummy, left my neat Vodka drink alone with no protection. I know exactly what happened. Women are smarter. They know not to leave their drink at bars unattended. But how was I supposed to know that in 2023, I, too, might have to worry about the same jerk-off pieces of shit trying to drug me too?
Well, lucky me and unlucky him. I have an extensive drug history (I haven’t taken anything illegal in over 15 years). Why I say this is that it takes a lot for me to get fucked up. So, here’s this creep thinking I’m some kind of ‘mark’. He used his drugs on the wrong dude. Fuck him. I hope he lost money on this creepy little bet he made for himself.
What is the moral of the story? There is none.
The only wish I have for you, dear reader, is to remember two things. Always appreciate every holiday, whether you believe in them or not. And the second?
Don’t ever leave your drink unattended. Listen to your Bartender Knows. It just might save you from some bad sweater wearing, shitty haircut-having, piece of human garbage that thinks drugging people is a way to spend St. Valentine’s Day. There’s a special place in Hell waiting for folks that play that dirty game.
And, of course, stay well and safe. And happy 2023. I live to write another day. I hope that you do too.