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The Cackle of Bachelorettes

I’ve never met her before but I suspect she has a good job. She is probably a professional with a college degree. She may even have an office assistant, an assigned parking spot and a per diem when she travels. She probably knows how to manage a small business, teach a classroom full of 4th graders or do double-entry bookkeeping. She probably has an older brother that is her best friend and she still loves her parents. She has had the same friends for 20 years and she’s been a good friend through it all. She votes and walks her dog every day. By all accounts, she is a good and decent person. Somebody that you would want to know or have your daughter grow up to be.

Tonight, she’s dressed in her sluttiest cocktail dress, wearing a veil, covered in costume jewelry, has a hooker-amount of make-up on and is wearing a sash that reads: Bachelorette. For one night, she puts down the business planner and Blackberry and picks up the Don Magic Juan chalice. Her friends follow suit wearing stickers that read, “A hard man is good to find,” and force feed her shots throughout the night. They’re covered in suckers, enveloped in cheap perfume and hosting a variety games ranging from getting free drinks to making out with the door guy. They’re loud, demanding and absolutely unstoppable. They’re like a glacier covered in glitter and bullhorns. It’s a cackle of broads on a mission and they will not be denied.

When I quit bartending, I am probably going to regret how much time I have spent gently pouring shots in cock-shaped glasses for drunken wrecks while they are yelling, “Ashley is getting married!!!” Because I work in Utah, most of the girls having their pre-wedding party are named Ashley, Lindsay or Jennifer and to the eight readers of the column with this name, I apologize about lumping you into the drunken wreck category. However, I have poured more Wet Pussies and Copper Camels into penis-shaped shot glasses than any man in Salt Lake City and I think I’ve earned the right to generalize.

Keys On Main is the perfect bar for bachelorette parities. We do a fantastic job of accommodating these parties with our tables, drinks and entertainment. There is nothing better than listening to the dueling piano show introduction when one of the guys asks if there are any bachelorette parties and hearing the room roar in anticipation of Ashley getting on stage. As difficult as bachelorette parties are, they make for a quick and interesting study of a “Girls Night Out.”

This last Saturday was the biggest concentration of bachelorette parties we’ve had all year. It made sense considering that summer was coming to an end and so is the wedding season. In setting up the reservations on Saturday, we knew that we were going to be behind the eight-ball the moment we opened the doors. We were already short staffed on Saturday and were using two new bartenders to get through the night.

I was excited to get the night over with. I had already worked the previous three nights and had been incredibly busy. It had been a good week up to that point and I was looking forward to a couple of days off. I know I have nobody to blame but myself by putting the cart in front of the mule but I was still motivated to get the show on the road. Saturdays are double-edged swords for me. They are always the busiest night of the week. People come out of Saturdays expecting a great night and there is a lot of pressure to provide them with it. Just because you’ve spent the previous three shifts fire-man carrying drunks out of the club, yelling at people for taking their shirts off and mopping up exploding toilets doesn’t mean Saturday’s guest deserve any less of an experience at the club.

The people started slowly trickling into the club around eight o’clock. Per usual, it was a mixed bag. There were out-of-towners spending their last night in SLC in the club. There were conventioneers, birthday party revelers, couples on date night, college kids from the U of U and the greater part of West Valley City spending the evening with us. The D-bag count was at its normal level of high to very high and the hoochies left their underground bunkers for evening and flocked to the bar. It had all of the makings of a crazy night.

The first shot across the bow was a textbook example of a bachelorette. She was dressed in an old wedding dress that was two sizes too small and she had enough booze on her breath to start a campfire. I asked her what the occasion was and her three friends in tow yelled (and I am not kidding): “Ashley is getting married!!!” I asked what she wanted and I swear that I could not understand a word she said. It was like she had a mouthful of marbles and her demand for a “dime entator” fell on confused ears. I asked her friend what she wanted and she told me that the bride-to-be was from Scotland. Wonderful but what does she want? Her friend told me that they wanted a round of Mind-Erasers. Great, Robert of Bruce was already compounding the injury to her noggin with a chugger of Kahlua, vodka and soda water.

I didn’t have much of a chance to take in the movable feast. We had a full bar, the piano show had started and the steady flow of customers into the bar had turned into a geyser. Even though we have enough booze and mixers to make well over 10,000 drinks, I would argue that I essentially only make about five—six, if you count pouring Bud Light drafts. People love their vodka and tonics, Red Bull and Vodka and their AMFs. It’s unfortunate that vodka has become the national drink. 200 years ago, George Washington was distilling his own whiskey and consuming two bottles of Port a night. The Civil War was fought and won on a belly full of corn mash. And now, beefy guys filling out Affliction T-shirts with a wafer-thin blonde on their tattooed arm are complaining that their Red Bull isn’t cold enough for their little drinks. America was tougher when a belt of bourbon chased with a bourbon on the rocks followed by a carafe of bourbon for the ride home was the drink of choice. Think I am wrong? Tell me Mad Men isn’t the coolest show on TV.

I think it’s funny that the most popular shot for a bachelorette parties is the Blow Job. Before you through your Kindle across the room in disgust, let me tell you about the shot. In a standard shot glass, I pour a single ounce of Bailey’s Irish Cream and then top it off with a dollop of whipped cream. Sounds simple enough but you have to drink the shot without using your hands. The ending result is a table full of women covered in whipped cream and 300 extra calories. I like it when a drink resembles the name. The aforementioned Mind-Erasers does exactly that. I find myself mocking Mobile’s economy and cultural history after a couple of Alabama Slammers. I guess that’s why most of the people in the bar are disappointed when a round of Blow Jobs hits the tables.

The simplest things can make or break a night. Nothing slows down or ruins a perfectly good night behind the bar like running out of ice or not having enough glassware. Breaking a glass in the ice is the eternal sin of bartending. Sometime things are slowed down behind the bar due to the bartender struggling to remember how to make a drink or the dishwasher breaks down. More often than not, if you want to know why you’re waiting for your seventh Red Bull and Vodka, don’t look at me. Look to your right and left and tell your fellow customers to learn how to act in a bar.

It is ridiculous that when you finally get my attention in the sea of people yelling at me, you have absolutely no idea of what you want. If this column teaches you one thing I would hope it is this sequence of events. Know what you want and know how you’re going to pay for it. That Stoli and soda with lime and two shots of Jaeger are still mine until you give me the $15. Have you credit card in your hand or get your money out of your wallet. Meet me halfway. In the time it takes for me to pour three drinks, you can open your clutch and give me your money.

The biggest cliché of the rookie drinker is when asked if they would like to start a tab and they tell me that they can’t because they’re afraid they are going to forget their card. My Lord! What kind of amateur drinker obtains complete amnesia after a couple of drinks? This statement means that you probably shouldn’t be in the bar in the first place. Does this mean you are so wildly irresponsible that you can’t remember to close your tab out after three Blue Moons? I am not familiar with a lightning fast credit card machine that closes you out in the blink of an eye. Credit card machines are slow and I’ve timed it at the bar. It takes 27 seconds to run a credit card. And when I am running your card, your fellow patrons are shooting daggers at me for not getting to them faster. Grow a pair of balls, trust me to not lose your card and start a tab. If you can’t do that, be a man and pay for your drinks in cash.

Bachelorettes are notorious for being time burglars. Five scantily dressed girls came up to the bar and demanded shots. I asked what did they want and they listed five different shots: Lemon Drop, Gummy Bear, Kamikaze, Purple Hooter and Grape Popsicle. All five are shaken and all of them require a moment to make. In a perfect world, they would have ordered five shots of tequila but who am I to ruin her special night? I lay out the glasses and start pouring the drinks. As I got the first three made, the bachelorette grabbed her drink and shot it. I finished making the other two and she wanted another Gummy Bear. I begrudgingly made her a second drink. They took their drinks and turned their backs to me. My Lord. I yelled at them that they owned me $36 and they gave me a look that would revival Medusa. First off, they assumed they were on the house. Second, they didn’t know who was paying for what. And third, they were all paying separately. They gave me five different credit cards and I went to go ring them up. When I returned to give them the slips to sign, I made the mistake of charging the bachelorettes drinks on another girl’s card. She started to read me the riot act until I told her to put a sock in it. First off, she should pay for the bride-to-be’s drink and two, you can’t get indignant with me when you’re paying with a Hello Kitty credit card. A Hello Kitty credit card has the same gravitas as a Sponge Bob Square Pants backed Visa.

Bachelorettes order their drink via committee. They don’t know what they want and I think that is pretty scary considering that they are going to be married in less than a week. I think this is endemic in Utah with people getting married so young. People in their late 20s or early 30s don’t act as if what they order will be their last chance of freedom. Getting married at the same age that lets you into the bar seems like a bad idea. When I was 21 years old, I could barely take care of myself. The chances of me being at best a mediocre husband was a longshot.  I can’t imagine what is going through their rum-filled head as their friends dance on stage to Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive.” Hopefully, they recognize the irony of getting their last hurrahs out of the way to a song that details an abusive relationship.

Sometimes I mistake a bachelorette party with a Girls Night Out (GNO). Initially, they are very similar but in talking with a GNO, you find out that they are a lot more put together. They’re going out to enjoy each other’s company and keep the D-bags a full six feet away from them. They don’t order like drunken pirates and don’t haggle over prices. They want what I think all of us want—a little bit of fun on the weekends. Maybe you have to go through your bachelorette phase to enjoy the GNO. Lord knows after drinking a baker’s dozen of Long Islands through a penis-shaped straw you might just want a relatively quiet night out with the girls.

Nonetheless, enjoy your night out, Bachelorette. Drink, dance and scream your head off for the night. Come in dressed to the nines and leave with your head in a garbage bag. I hope your friends hold back your hair and hold your purse when you’ve finally have enough. Hopefully, this is a once in a lifetime experience for you and I want you to get home safely. You’ll be entering a new phase of your life and I hope this chapter doesn’t include you paying for your drinks with a Hello Kitty credit card. Get a Dora The Explorer. You’ve earned it.

Follow me on Twitter @BennyRaskin or become a fan of Behind The Bar on Facebook.

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About Ben Raskin

Born in El Cajon, raised in Las Vegas, educated in Reno and living in Salt Lake City. I bartend, write, box and live in Sugarhouse UT.

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