No matter where a bartender works, the flotsam and jetsam of human endeavor are bound to wash up upon his plank. The type of which is usually only contingent upon the eddy, estuary or waterway on which they have moored themselves.

On this particular night, the flotsam appeared in the form of one man. I recognized him immediately, mainly because every single time he has ever come in we have the exact same conversation. And even though he has been in well over 20 times, I still have no idea what his name is.

“I’ll have a lightly chilled well vodka martini. Up. With extra olives. On two picks,” he always says. “And two rocks glasses with ice.”

He will then take the one martini and pour it into the two glasses filling both of them. He then plunks in the olives and smiles self-satisfied while he drinks the two watery drinks.

“It’s not that I’m cheap,” he always says.

“OK,” I always reply.

“I’m not,” he always says one more time.

He has discovered a little know bar fact. Many restaurants serve “up” drinks in larger glasses. This requires about ¾ an ounce more liquor than a “rocks” drink in order to fill the bigger glass. Since many establishments only charge a small extra charge for this, the result is that the customer gets almost half again as much (and sometimes almost twice as much) alcohol for about the same price. It is not a well publicized fact, for obvious reasons.

This time things with Mr. Flotsam proceeded differently from the very start.

“I’ll have a Cosmopolitan,” he said before then launching into the same old spiel, except with lime wedges in place of the extra olives.

“My girlfriend is in the bathroom,” he added in place of the “cheap” part.

“And my girlfriend likes Cosmopolitans.”

Then for no apparent reason he leaned over and told a gentleman sitting two seats down, watching the baseball game that the seat between them was for his “girlfriend”.

OK, nodded the baseball watching man before returning his interest to the game.

Another couple soon approached the bar and in a great flurry he stood up physically blocking them from approaching the empty seat.

“That seat is for my girlfriend,” he said once, before repeating the girlfriend part one more time.

Nearly 15 minutes later (and at least four or five more “girlfriend” comments from him) his “girlfriend” finally arrived. The term “hot mess” came immediately to mind. Her piled up platinum blonde hair had much darker roots showing, and her tiny stretchy tank top stood out abnormally upturned for a woman of her age with…err… accessories that large and unsupported.

She picked up the drink (or more correctly the half drink) looked at her “boyfriend” and took a sip.

She wrinkled her nose. “This tastes watery,” she said setting it down and taking an immediate interest in the baseball watching man.

Five minutes later she asked for a cocktail napkin and a pen. She wrote her phone number down for Mr. Baseball. Another five minutes later she was at a table in the corner again asking for a napkin and a pen. Unsolicited she even wrote down her number and handed it to me, before turning and giving it to just about every other man in the bar.

20 minutes total went by while Mr. Not Cheap guarded the empty barstool and the watery drink while Ms. Aged Lindsey Lohan flitted around the bar.

Eventually, however, even half a drink necessitates a trip to the bathroom.

“Where’s my girlfriend?” asked Mr. Not Cheap upon his return.

“I think she left,” I said, sparing him the “with that other guy” part.

While he sat nursing his watery drink, and bemoaning his state, I was left with four thoughts.

  1. Before you call someone your “girlfriend” you might want to be sure how they feel.
  2. A book reviewer once said, “D.H. Lawrence was the first modern novelist to realize that men and women cannot solve each other’s loneliness”. Especially, it seems, if that loneliness springs from dysfunction.
  3. Cheapness never wins anybody friends. In fact it usually has the opposite effect.
  4. “Dating” the pretty girl (or pretty boy) merely for appearance’s sake, is only rewarding as long as she, or he, is also not dating everybody else.