Tales From The Back Door: How I Got There In The First Place

June 28, 2005 at 9:35 am (Back Door Tales)

"We're opening a new bar."

I looked in the mirror–DD, my favorite hairdresser, was doing his usual very artful job on my locks, turning them into the Big Hair I wore back in the 80s along with every other party fiend, male or female. "Excellent! Who's 'we'?"

"Me and Sweetie and Cutiepie. We're taking over that old restaurant across from the Farmer's Store building. Come check it out–we open in about a month."

Wonderful! There weren't a lot of bars I really liked in Eau Claire. If I liked the music they played, chances were good it usually turned into the Bucket-O-Blood-Bar once everyone tied on a good drunk. If it was a pretty tame place to go, the music generally sucked ass. I had one requirement for a bar–the music had to be good! This requirement resulted in much back-watching and wishing for less scuzzy places to go partying.

Once the Downtown Express opened, I found I liked it–the guys had opened up the restaurant as well, so there was great food, excellent potables (even splits of champagne should the occasion require them), wonderful management, and best of all NO tolerance for fights in or near the bar! Anyone wishing to raise Hell in the fun, party-yer-brains-out manner was welcome to do so; anyone wishing to raise Hell in the bash-someone's-brains-out manner was quietly escorted to the door. If they didn't go quietly they got thrown out by E-Cup. Five years later I ran into one such escortee–because I heard his friends STILL blowing him shit over "that time that girl tossed yer ass outta that queer bar downtown. Hahahahahaha! You got thrown out by a GIRL!" Best of all, the place was only 6 blocks from the nursing home I worked in, making it the perfect place to catch a drink or ten after my second shift job.

One Sunday night, I and about ten other patrons were having a fairly mellow time, shooting the shit and goofing off. DD was behind the bar, and he and I had just exchanged some excellent…uh…cookies! Yeah, that was it–I sold him some cookies. (Oh, hush–the statute of limitations ran out years ago on cookie-selling) Quite naturally, he wanted to go try his cookies because they smelled wonderful and he just couldn't wait. Trouble was, playing with his cookies in the main bar area just wasn't going to go over with some folks.

"Serra?"

"Yeah, hon?"

"Have you ever tended bar?"

"Uh, no. Don't you need a license for that?"

"Not if I'm in the building–and I'll be in the kitchen. Come back here and see what you think."

Long story short, after a short course in what to charge and quick instruction on the difference between bar rail (some call the non-call brand liquor line "well drinks") and call brands, my friend went off to, uh, "enjoy his cookies." I puttered around behind the bar, mixing cocktails, pouring beer, washing glasses, shooting the shit back (since I knew most of that night's patrons), and generally feeling like I was goofing off behind the boss' back.

Once DD came back, very happy with his new cookies and asking when I'd be, um, baking more, one of the guys yelled, "Hey DD! Where'd you finally find a bartender sans attitude? You'd better keep this one–I'm sick of the bitches you usually hire."

I looked around, confused. Who, moi? "Hell, Bart, I didn't do anything special–I just poured you drinks and took your money"

"Yes, darling, that's my fucking' POINT! You didn't blow me shit even when…ah, geez, I didn't tip ya!" He shoved a five across the bar. "You're how people on that side of the bar are supposed to work–not with your nose so far in the air that you'd drown in a good rain."

"Well, thanks, but I was just covering for DD while he watered the roses." I stuck the five in my jeans pocket with a smile. "I like this but DD didn't…"

"SSS, you want a second job?" DD interrupted me. "He's right–you're good with people and you do know how to mix drinks. The other bartenders want a weekend night off but I didn't have a good replacement. It'd be only one night a week and we'd work around the nursing home schedule. Besides, it'd pay your bar bill plus you keep all your tips."

I considered it. It sounded like a good deal, but with working every other weekend at my job at the nursing home, it'd sure cut into my party time. The extra money would be nice. Besides, this isn't a job–it's a hoot to do!

"Sure–just remember the weekends I work at the home I can't get here before 11."

"No problem–some nights we won't need you until then, and one of us owners can cover you until you come in. C'mon, take the job–we'd love to have you."

Pause, mostly for effect.

"Okay–when do I start?"

Check the archives for more Tales From The Back Door.

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