Here’s to independence, no matter what you are independent from

We hold these truths to be self-evident.

It certainly didn’t feel like eventide. A quick look around the bar and people were still wearing sunglasses. The retreating sun cast its glow through the front windows, illuminating the backs of heads while leaving the faces in an undiscernible shadow. It was as if the sun was gracing everyone with a halo of sorts. And we all know that not everyone deserves a halo, often even those who have one.

I looked at the clock, it was 8 p.m. and we were getting ready to close. And the sun was still up. It’s no wonder that the solstices also became religious time markers because natural phenomena are miracles unto themselves.

But I didn’t have much time to think about such things. One of my “angels” was ordering.

“You call that a shot?” he asked.

“What do you mean?”

“It’s not even half full.”

Since we serve our shots in rocks glasses there was no way I could fill that glass and be considered anything but irresponsible. A fact I proved by grabbing a nearby shot glass and pouring the drink into it, filling it all the way to the rim.

Unfortunately, in the restaurant business, if you are forced to prove something you have probably already lost. In my experience, no amount of facts are going to prove anything to anyone who is already convinced that they are right.

Two young women watched the whole thing unfold, after which one ordered a “hot tea” and the other asked several questions about our non-alcoholic cocktail selection, before finally selecting one.

Thirty years ago, when I first started bartending, I never would have thought that I would be serving hot tea or answering questions about non-alcoholic cocktails. But here we are. Aristotle once said, “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” And I have learned that just because I don’t understand something it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have value to someone else, no matter what it is.

I placed down the hot tea and the non-alcoholic cocktail. The tea woman stopped her friend from picking up her drink.

“I just want to say a little prayer,” she said.

She held out her hands and said something so quietly that the only indication that she was speaking was that her lips were moving.

Her friend bowed her head respectfully, only looking up and opening one eye to make sure she was finished.

“I just wanted to give thanks,” the praying woman said.

“I understand,” her friend said.

Religion is one of the big topical no-no’s in a bar. The same goes for politics. Mind you, this is not a “rule” but more of a guideline. Because if you really want to see someone get angry, bring up one or the other. The irony is it might not be your companion who gets upset, but someone who overhears it.

“You are pretty firm in your convictions,” said the peeking woman.

“I am. I believe this country was founded on religious freedom. And I think it is important to respect that.”

Some people don’t know those unwritten rules, but again, if you must point them out, then you’re already behind the eight ball, so to speak. Bartenders aren’t the fun police. If your behavior isn’t really bothering anybody, a bartender probably isn’t going to say anything. And this one certainly didn’t.

The praying woman spoke often and at length about her beliefs while her friend listened patiently. This went on for some time. Questions were asked and answered. Conversations are always two ways, because if they are not, then they are something else, maybe a soliloquy, or a monologue, or in some cases, even a diatribe.

“Are you religious?” the praying woman asked her friend.

“Not as in an organized religion, but I am spiritual.”

“What do you mean?”

“You know, energetics and all that sort of stuff.”

“Oh, come on now,” extorted the praying woman. “That’s all just superstitious nonsense,”

Leaving me with these thoughts:

• Sometimes, some people must learn about the rules (or the guidelines) the hard way.

• “The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it,” wrote physicist Neil deGrasse Tyson

• If you believe you have the right to speak but not the responsibility to listen, then it’s not really about rights or beliefs, is it? It’s about advantage, specifically, your advantage.

• Have a happy Independence Day, no matter what, or whom, you are independent from.