Two weeks ago, I received an email from my boss that simply said “Please stop by my office before the end of the day,” and knew immediately that my long weekend was about to be ruined. I know enough about the business world to know Friday is firing day, and I was proved correct. My boss used a variety of politically correct phrases and buzz words that essentially boiled down to, “We’re dissolving your position and looking for people that can work full time, and I know your school schedule doesn’t allow that.”
Was it a valid reason on the company’s part? I don’t know or care. Either way, for the first time in my life, I got fired. It sucked. However, after a stressful weekend and several cashed-in favors, I started the next week as a barback/bouncer for a successful bar group in Chicago. I love the fast-paced work, the people I work with, and getting tips, but one thing I hadn’t accounted for was the shit I would see being sober(ish) at a bar. I’m here to tell you that the voice you hear in the back of your brain during your Sunday Scaries is right; you should be ashamed of your drunken actions.
On my first shift as barback, I happened to look up from the washing station and stared directly into the barely covered rack of a 250+ pound girl who was bent over the bar in front of me. What really captured my attention (other than the fact that she was sweating like she had just eaten a plate of hot wings while running a marathon), was the skinny guy behind her who was VERY obviously fingering her against the bar. It was a train wreck I couldn’t look away from. I was dropping glasses, my eyes locked on this chick with her eyes rolling back as this dude slobbered on her neck and whispered what I’m pretty sure were the lyrics to “Sweet Caroline” in her ear. Yes, I was disgusted. But not with them. With myself. I’m not the classiest of individuals. I’ve fingered girls on bar dance floors many times throughout my life, but up until last week, I was sure it was subtle, unnoticed, and perhaps even romantic.
Holy fuck was I wrong. I’m here to tell y’all that every disgusting/embarrassing/illegal thing you’ve done at bars that alcohol made you think was subtle, the bar staff saw. Being the only sober person in a room full of people is like having a super power, but you can’t do anything with it. We see the girl rubbing some random dude’s junk like a genie is going to come out while her boyfriend is ordering drinks at the bar. We hear every scintillating pickup line being thrown out there at 5:00 am. We know what’s going on when three dudes walk out of the bathroom together, much more energized than they were three minutes ago. Like an omnipresent god, we see everything, but all we can do is watch in fascinated horror.
This was a hard realization for me to come to. I’ve had my fair share of blackouts, brownouts, and hazy embarrassing memories from the night before, but the soothing power of alcohol always made the memories more suave and cool than reality. Watching it sober has shown me what we all truly are. We’re a bunch of animals; aggressively fighting each other to get to the watering hole (bar), writhing under the dim lighting in a crude mating ritual (grinding to Remix To Ignition), and desperately trying to find someone to mate with (sometimes in the bar bathroom). I’m here to tell you that every memory you have at the bar after midnight is a lie. You thought you were being charming when you asked for the bartender’s number? What you actually said was “are those tater tots on special?” while motioning to her breasts and making a face that I can only describe as “reptilian”? You thought your dance moves were like that of a young Shakira? In reality you put your hand on the nasty-ass floor of the bar when you were grinding before putting your fingers *seductively* into your mouth. Also, holy shit is everyone sweaty. Working at a bar has made me never want to have a dance floor makeout again in my life, now that I know it looks like two wet chicken breasts slapping together. Never have I realized the destructive effects of alcohol until I worked the door at a late night bar. I’ve watched put-together, well-mannered young adults walk through my doors, and undergo a Jekyll/Hyde style process somewhere in those revolving doors. The same people walk out hours later with half of their clothes hanging off, spewing incomprehensible words to each other as they stumble and fall into taxis together like zombies in some kind of horror/romantic movie mashup.
I am not here to judge you, however, for I am one of you. We work hard all week to be good, productive members of society, and the bars are our release. So get out there and hit on everyone in sight. Order a “Long Island, but with two extra shots of vodka” at last call even though you definitely don’t need it. Hookup with strangers on a dance floor in front of a hundred other strangers unabashedly, because no one can judge you. We are all a bunch of disgusting animals.
Just tip your bar staff well, because we need to afford therapy. .