I am lucky enough in this phase of my life to live within a 45-second walk from my favorite bar, a place where I’ve almost reached the status Norm had on “Cheers.” Taking a break from all your worries sure does help a lot. And it’s even better when everyone knows your name — but not your entire life’s back story or that thing you did that one time that none of your so-called friends just will not let go.
The Brazen Head is perfect for me: low-key; an interesting client base of locals, law students, lawyers, criminals and that one cat who just shows up and plays his clarinet along with whatever music is playing; a solid selection of bourbon (and Scotch, too, if you’re into that sort of thing); a dart board that is used by people who bring their own darts (I don’t play anymore, but this I find comforting); and a rotating selection of good beers but, just as equally, a place where no one is going to give you stink-eye if you order a Budweiser and a Jack on the rocks.
Also, the staff is exceedingly friendly and, in the case of the women, attractive (yes, even before the drinking starts).
But that’s where trouble can brew for your average straight, single, broken-hearted male. And, in the spirit of Ye Olde Nondating Life, I figured I’d drop some advice on yall should you find yourselves in a similar situation. Because the fact of the matter is this: You Cannot Hook Up With the Bartenders at Your Local Bar. And, for once in my sorry life, this is a lesson that I did not have to learn through my own experience. Yet!
You’ve probably all heard of the pathetic saps who go to strip clubs and think they have a shot with hooking up with the talent without paying a handsome sum and risking arrest. Yes, ladies, there are men who, like you, have spent too much time watching “Pretty Woman” (and porn) and have come to the conclusion their are hookers out there just waiting to be saved by a mild-mannered accountant with a steady job and a 2006 Hyundai. These are lies Hollywood tells us.
But the attractive, friendly bartender can be more dangerous than that. Precisely because it seems less a fantasy than “Pretty Woman.” The bartender, after all, is a normal person working one of the more noble trades on the planet. Part of the function of that trade–if he or she is any good–isn’t just smiling and flirting, but also listening (or at least pretending to listen) to your tales of woe, even if it’s the sixth time you’ve told the story because you were so drunk last time you forgot you went over all of this. (And, yes, obviously, they’re hoping that translates into tips.) On top of this, bartenders can be both objectively attractive and subjectively attractive. I’m not going to remark on male bartenders (ladies, feel free to do so in comments). But straight guys will tell you there’s something sexy about almost all lady bartenders. Even those you might not find your type out on the street take on a certain power behind the bar. Whether it be mousy girl empowered by the job or the sexy librarian or the tattooed-bar babe or the older woman who could possibly hurt you in bed or some other type, if they’re not immediately attractive to you, you spend enough time in a bar and they’ll become so.
Oh, and also, she’s serving you alcohol. Lots and lots of alcohol. I don’t think we need a scientific study to prove the effects that has on the male brain in terms of inhibition. Inhibition and bonding. You know those studies they’ve done on baby monkeys, in which they took away mama monkey and replaced her with a metal sculpture holding a bottle and the little baby monkey bonded with that. Exact same thing.
So here we have the settings for a perfect storm of infatuation, stalker-type behavior, heartbreak and, ultimately, loss of your favorite bar–the latter of which is the most important thing.
I’m not going to lecture you on chasing after unattainable women, pining into your beer, making weird mix tapes, memorizing the shift of your favorite bartender and showing up five minutes before and leaving when the lights go on. DON’T DO THAT!! C’mon. She’s got a job to do. She sees about five hundred guys come through this place in a week, half of whom may be better looking, better mannered, better employed and less pathetic than you. She’s trying to be nice to everyone–as long as they’re not an asshole. So don’t take that smile as an invitation to ask for her number. How would you like it if that creepy woman you met at that one business conference and you had lunch with just to be nice–remember her?–how would you like it if she started calling you or showing up at your gym or something? You wouldn’t.
But this is all obvious. Or it should be. But there is a more dangerous situation. One of these bartenders could actually take a fancy to you. One of them may bring the relationship from behind the bar and present you with an opportunity. How do you pass that up!? Nice woman. Serves you booze. Likes to hang out. What could possibly go wrong? EVERYTHING!
To be clear, this hasn’t happened to me since a Sunday night at RedRock West seven years ago and I was so drunk at the time and so afraid of the bouncer beating the shit out of me, nothing came of it. But it has happened to a friend of mine, and she pointed out what a clusterfuck you make not only of your life, but more importantly, your drinking situation.
What could possibly go wrong, you ask? Well, you’re probably not sitting in that bar three nights a week or more because you’re an expert at relationships. So it’s pretty much a given that the relationship, regardless of job titles, is going to end in disaster. You’ll get jealous because of all the other dudes trying to horn in on your territory or because she smiled at that one guy. You’ll get sick of her working until four and maybe passively-aggressively expecting you to be there at close even though you had a damn job. Or maybe you just won’t like each other in the blinding light of day. And then what?
Ah, you didn’t even think that far, did you? You were sitting there in your booze infused daydream not even considering who would win the bar after the breakup. She would, of course. She works there! It’s her job. And you know what else, all the other bartenders are her friends, too. So what are you going to do? Go on a different night and bitch about her to them? You most certainly will not. Best-case scenario is one of the other bartenders hates her and hooks up with you out of spite and now you have two pissed off bartenders on your hands. If you’re even allowed in the place, you can say goodbye to the “Norm” treatment–even the other regulars are likely to turn on you. And the days of your cheap drinks or guaranteed free rounds and the occasional shot are now over.
And now you’ll have to go to one of the other bars in your hood, maybe the ones across the street–even though one is only remotely acceptable during football season and the only reason ever to go to the other one is if you’ve got a thing for hanging out with douchebags watching soccer.
Is that any way you want to spend your drinking hours? Hell no. You’ve heard the old saying, “Don’t shit where you eat.” Well, it doubly applies in this situation. And it applies to both genders. I’m not saying that it’s beyond the realms of possibility that you could be the one person who makes this happen and you find yourself walking down the aisle with your favorite employee from your favorite bar. But the potential for disaster is too great.
Women–and men–come and go, but a great bar is hard to find.