THE PARTY HAD been in full swing for a full 20 minutes before I realized that it was an actual party and not just another Thursday night.
Shots had been ordered, bottles of wine procured and due diligence on the taxicab and Uber situation had been offered. Bartenders are not the fun police — we have a job to do and a legal obligation to be met, but we are there to facilitate the fun, not stop it.
“Susan, it’s been so long!” shrieked the hostess in a pitch that caused many shoulders to rise. Proving, perhaps, that after a few drinks women’s voices often go up that extra notch, from songbird to shrill, while men’s mannerisms go the opposite direction, devolving from Cro-Magnon to Neanderthal.
“It is a school night,” Susan said, not quite on the same level as the hostess.
The party was at the point where savvy bartenders and cocktail servers reiterate the fact that no one will be driving home.
“So I told that (expletive) where to go,” said a man who exemplified in speech what he didn’t in physique, making me think that australopithecus was perhaps a more apt description.
The hostess draped herself over Mr. Australopithecine in what can only be described as Lindsay Lohanish.
“We’ll have oysters,” said Mr. Australopithecine, oblivious that the hostess had already ordered a dozen more, not including the dozen already sitting uneaten on the bar.
“Another dozen?” I asked.
“No, just a dozen,” he said in a slurred manner that loses something in the typing.
“In addition to this one?” I asked, circling my hands around the dozen oysters now sinking into their slushy bath.
“Not one, a dozen” he said indignantly, clearly unclear on the concept.
“There’s already a dozen oysters right there.”
“A dozen oysters,” the hostess said slowly and deliberately as if she was talking to someone who didn’t speak English — ironic because her own English was now labored and borderline incomprehensible.
Soon another dozen oysters sat uneaten on the bar, indicating a certain level of patience had finally worn off.
“Cake!” the hostess said. “We need cake. It’s a birthday party after all.”
I guess she didn’t realize that we didn’t serve cake, either by deliberate or accidental malfeasance. Who knows?
“What do mean?” she asked.
Cognizant of the recent oyster conversation, I felt a visual aid might be in order. I handed her a dessert menu.
“Can you get these oysters out of here?” she asked, either not realizing they were her oysters or not caring.
“I can’t believe this (expletive) place doesn’t have cake,” said Mr. Australopithecine, puffing up his chest.
Nothing makes a little guy seem tougher than hurling profanity at someone who can’t fight back.
Soon enough it was decided that pie was as close as we were going to get to cake and some was ordered.
“Where did our oysters go?” the hostess asked not a minute later.
Two minutes after that the pie cum cake arrived with its fiery beacon.
“What’s that?” she asked.
“It’s your birthday pie.”
“It’s not our birthday. It’s his,” said Mr. Australopithecine, pointing at the corner.
It was only then that I noticed the little boy sitting by himself in the corner wearing a badly crumpled party hat, which left me with these thoughts.
• In many California restaurants children younger than 21 are permitted in the bar area as long as the bar area also serves food. However, just because something is allowed doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good idea.
• We hear a lot about helicopter parenting these days, but I remember that the very first helicopters were wildly unpredictable and prone to crashing. Just saying.
• To own a dog you must get a license, but any idiot can have a child.
• Thank goodness for conscientious bartenders and taxicabs and car transport services, because where would some people be without them? I bet I can guess.