A Certain Level of Unprofessionalism XII

VFW
Bartending

If you have recently become a fan of The Opiate, thank you. If you are already a fan, thank you for your continued support. After a spell of absenteeism from here, I have come back thirty pounds lighter and with a new fervor for posting obscene shit. My divorce has gone through, officially, and I’m delighted to inform all of you that I will be reconciling with my ex-wife, and we’re planning our second marriage soon. For those of you who want to punch me in the dick with razor blades taped to your knuckles, thank you. You are true friends. For the rest of you, and before the rumors start to circulate, I am kidding. Slam-pig and I will not be reuniting.

Now that I’m officially in the clear, a few words before I get on with the show.

“Everything about her was as sharp as the blade she was holding,” is a line from a short story that I wrote and published early in 2010. You’ve stolen my shit, my checks, and my money. Don’t steal my fucking work, too, you grimy piece of shit.

Speaking of grimy, I’ve seen a lot of shitty jobs. Bartending at a VFW isn’t excluded from the list. After bartending in towns like Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Kennebunkport, Maine, and Oxford, Mississippi, landing a gig in a small cow town in central New York was less than humbling. It was fucking degrading.

When I walked in for the “interview”, the early afternoon crowd was already at the bar hunched over their cans of Old Milwaukee and Genesee. There were few of them, and I was already excited to land a gig that would allow me to grade papers while I worked. After a week, I learned that not standing idly while geriatrics sipped their three-for-one beers at a pace that often made me question if they had died in their bar stool at the bar, was unacceptable. It was also uncomfortable for me, much like the feeling of a handful of people staring at an erection. I felt like a dick, so I became one. I worked at the VFW longer than I thought I would, but it still took them months to finally fire me.

To be clear, I’m a fan of veterans. This VFW was open to the public, so there was a score of dickheads who came in for the cheap prices and to mingle with their neighbors. I enjoyed the company of a lot of people, but for the most part, tapping of beer cans on the bar, their eloquent and dramatic display of tipping me one or two dollars for five hours of drinking, and their petulant screams for pull-tabs (they’re like scratch tickets) kept me on the verge of drunkenness with a bottle of Jameson. Things seemed easy enough at first. There were fourteen regulars, so I didn’t have a problem remembering what people drank; however, I would often forget purposely to piss them off. What the fuck were they going to do, not give me their one dollar tip for the night? It’s exactly that kind of attitude that gets you fired from fine establishments like the VFW, yet that still wasn’t the reason they fired me.

Drinking on the job wasn’t either. After a month, I convinced the manager to start getting Jameson. I went through a bottle pretty much by myself every weekend. It sure was popular, I told the manager.

There was entertainment aside from the monthly square dancing gig they held in an adjacent function room and the time I saw a guy’s dentures fall out of his head, onto the floor and him accidentally kicking them across the room. The manager had a distributor put in one of those claw games where you try to pluck a ten cent stuffed animal from the heap for fifty cents a try. There was an older man who mastered pulling useless shit out of that machine, which was interesting to watch, and even more interesting when he pissed himself on a bar stool later. The man took turns giving out the stuffed animals to a couple of the women in the bar, but two of them, both well past retirement age, nearly got into bare knuckle bouts on the bar room floor. They’d argue and hover around Mr. Pissy-Pants, like barely legal groupies wanting their first real taste of fame, while he worked his magic with the claw. If you’ve never seen older people, especially older women, get into a pissing match, it’s something to see.

One of the women looked like ET with glasses but her face was a bit more wrinkled. The other looked more like a heftier version of Sméagol and would flash her tits from time to time. When the arguments started, usually with, He got that for me, there would be a brief tugging match and one of the women would let go and the winner of the teddy tug-o-war would typically end with, Look what I got, bitch. And she’d wave the stuffed bear or Buffalo Bills pillow in the other woman’s face.

After one night of arguing, the ET lady stormed out of the bar. I was on the front porch smoking and watched her storm across the parking lot. Halfway to her car, she vomited but didn’t break stride. She simply turned her head and wretched. When she turned, she saw me watching her. I laughed—a bellowing, hysterical laugh.

Don’t you fucking laugh at me.

I couldn’t stop. I still can’t.

Sadly, though, those days came to an end. I was fired for “cleanliness issues” because I consistently forgot to put away the crock pots. Possibly, it had something to do with shotgunning beers at the bar in front of other customers, but we’ll go with “cleanliness issues”. I said goodbye to quarreling geriatrics and assholes who spent five hundred dollars on pull-tabs but could never afford to tip more than one or two dollars. Now, I spend my time plotting trips to retirement homes and getting the residents there Friday night shitfaced just to see what would happen.

If you haven’t already done so, The Opiate now has a page on Facebook that you can savor or simply “Like”. Look for the sexy sheep carcass.

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