I gave up on football a couple years ago. All the CTE stories and Steve Almond’s Against Football were the last nails in the coffin of an interest which was fair-weather at best. I don’t care to admire multi-million dollar commercials or overblown corporate music spectacles either, so Super Bowl Sunday is just a regular work day to me. This year, the wrinkle was I was covering the afternoon shift in addition to my regular hours, so I bartended for ten hours.
The first couple were painfully slow. A few of the regulars—the ones who come every single afternoon—showed, but otherwise it was crickets till about 8:30pm. I was so bored I texted Brian the doorman at ten past the hour, thinking he was late; he wasn’t supposed to be in till 9pm. Then a bunch of people I’d never seen in the bar before piled in. Most were pretty far along already, doubtless turned out of some place which has wall-to-wall flatscreens. They wanted bombs, shots, and to start tabs on their credit cards.
A lot of pent up testosterone and frustration in the room. After hours of idling they had me running around and it was a challenge to switch gears so fast. I don’t mind when the bar is busy, I can handle it, but this night had a bad vibe, an angry edge to it. Maybe they were all mad Tom Brady won another ring or were just mean drunks, but in any case, serving them brought me no joy.
A guy came up irate that the pint of PBR he’d let sit at his table fifteen minutes before taking a single sip didn’t taste fresh. I offered to replace it but he acted put out, as if I was disrespecting him, told me he’d been coming here ten years, that I couldn’t do him like that. I told him to leave. Brian had to escort him and his embarrassed, apologizing friends out the door. I missed it, but a guy started choking out another guy at one of the tables, so Brian had to bumrush him as well. There are often months when I don’t have to 86 a single drinker.
A couple on an internet date kept trying to monopolize my attention, making me part of their conversation. It started when she asked me whether, as a newly-single woman, she had the right to tell dates that she was up for flirting (which she never defined) but not down to fuck. He got mock-angry that I took her side. Later, she insisted on touching my beard, making him unhappy for real.
Later, a very young, very inebriated and disoriented young man kept asking to use our phone. The trouble was he didn’t know the number he was trying to dial or even how he’d got here. We repeatedly gave him directions to Simone’s on 18th, where he said his brother was, but he kept coming back in and trying to use the phone. The last time he came in he came up to the bar and ordered two Modelos. We don’t serve Modelo. Eber made him give him cash and pushed him into an Uber. After closing time, we went out to the back lot and found the kid’s car, one of the headlights smashed in, all four tires flat. It’s a miracle he didn’t kill anybody.
Nights like this remind me that I’m dealing a controlled substance. A lot of the people who indulge can’t handle it, especially on “special” occasions like the Super Bowl. The desperate chasing of mirth on holidays is one of most depressing things in the world to me. Watching it play out in front of my face and feeding it by taking money for booze this night was a real bummer.
When I got home, I watched a dumb comedy called Waiting... on Showtime. It was a caricatured Hollywood version of my night. Just the thing to wind down from a shift I’d like to forget.