She was statuesque to say the least.
Her knee-high boots wrapped around her long legs meeting up at a short black mini skirt. She had long blond hair that wrapped around a pretty face and perfectly white teeth. If Dashiell Hammett wrote her into a story, she would clearly be the femme fatale.
She was in the company of four other guests. They came into the club late last night and ordered vodka and sodas. They were trouble for two reasons: they were young and their credit cards were declined. They were forced to pay with cash and that clearly irritated them. Nonetheless, I didn’t think much of them. I had other customers to attend to and I wasn’t going to waste time judging them when there were bigger fish to fry.
Last night was, by most accounts, a good night. Adobe had a convention in town and they came to the bar in force with corporate credit cards and a thirst for strong drink. They brought the usually complaints about Utah but I have done enough reps to know how to let these complaints roll off my back. Even though they were miffed about our 1 oz. pours they still had no problem walking out of the club shnockered after six rounds consumed up in Utah’s altitude. Keep on thinking Utah has bad booze and keep double-downing on your booze intake. It keeps the lights on at the Raskin household.
One person in particular bothered me in the convention crowd. She came to the bar and said, “Utah’s 1 oz. pours disappoint me. What can you do?” I told her to order a second drink. She smugly looked at me and ordered a gin and tonic. Instead of pounding her cocktail, she goes on a long-winded diatribe about cocktail culture back in Chicago and warned me that I wouldn’t last one minute behind a bar in the Windy City. I told her she was probably right but here in Utah you just got the best drink I could pour. The sweet irony of the exchange I had from Ms. Chicago is that she didn’t even finish her Tanqueray.
I have never understood the give-and-go I have to experience every night behind the bar when it comes to the size of our pours. Specifically, I never understood why people want to debate me at 11 o’clock at night about how things are done in the state. You know why I live in SLC? Because I don’t hang my hat in any other city in this country. I love taking road trips to experience how things are done in other parts of this country because at the very least, they are different from how they are done in the 801. Try browbeating a bartender in Chicago because they don’t have fry sauce or carrots in the Jell-O. You’d get your head stomped in behind a dumpster.
The problem is that Utahns as a group are pretty good people. This adoptive state of mine is bad about wrapping a stretch of barbwire around a baseball bat and telling people to hit the bricks if they choose to continue bad-mouthing Utah. The best part about living here in Utah is that most of the people in the state are decent people and they don’t have time to crack skulls to warn out-of-towners that “We don’t take kindly to your type.”
Utah is a western state with Midwest values. There is a bit of a cowboy attitude in the state but for the most part, Utah is a civil town that doesn’t have time to engage in chest-pumping. With the exception of the skiing, the average Utahn is more interested in Ute football and churchball than telling people to suck a lemon every time they crack wise on the state. We’re good enough for you to come and snowboard for a weekend but God forbid you have to act in accordance with the rules that all of us have to follow.
It is selfish, pure and simple. Think I want to make three trips to get smokes, porno and liquor? Do ya? No! With gas hitting almost $4 a gallon, I don’t have the fuel efficiency to drive around town buying Kools, Wild Turkey and Barely Legal. Vice might be better to get in other states but there is no shortcoming of good times to be had in SLC and every complaint you register with me makes me long for some so
Somehow, I’ve made peace with the fact that people just don’t understand Utah and instead of embracing how unique this place is they choice to chip away what a great place Utah is. Sure we have a heap of problems but so does everywhere. I just think the problems we have are more manageable and not getting a sidecar sure isn’t one of them.
That’s how the responsibility of defending the Beehive State has fallen into my lap. I love having visitors come to the club for cocktails and dueling pianos (they pay the bills). For the most part, they are just looking for the best place to get a bite to eat in the city or what mountain they should go ski. Playing the role of a city-wide concierge is as much a part of my job as slinging cocktails and helping folks remember the name to songs. And that is how it is supposed to be. My mother would be humiliated if she thought that I acted like a bag of pompous whale dildos every time I hit the road and found myself in a new city demanding that every should be exactly how it is back home. I give people a bit of rope to hang themselves but I quickly reel them in when they start getting personal about Utah and her people.
Back to the blonde…
Last call came and went. Most of the guests were filing out of the bar when the blonde came up and ask for another drink. I told her it was past one and my hands were tied. She offered to help clean the bar but there was no way she was going to be able to push a mop in those boots. I told her have a good night and I started cleaning up for the evening. My back was turned as I was putting away the bottles. As I went to put away the speed well I saw her holding the liquor gun and shooting more vodka into her glass.
I grabbed her drunken hand and held tightly as I read her the riot act. Rules can be broken in a bar. Every shift I find myself trying to follow the letter of the law as best I can but things get overlooked, forgotten or ignored. Utah has a phonebook worth of liquor laws that you need to obey and it is a pain to try and remember chapter and verse on each one. Outside of the DABC’s control of the bar, there are some things that don’t need to be regulated and helping yourself to the hooch is one. Thank God Keys On Main isn’t a self-service bar or I’d be out of work.
I called her the C-word, B-word, T-word and even the dreaded Z-word. She got herself 86’d for life. What was the most upsetting part of the encounter is that she was from Utah. There is nothing worse than Utahn on Utahn crime when it comes to slinging drinks. They have it as bad as us and there is no need to complicate the situation by going whole-hog on somebodies else’s booze.
I titled with column, SLC PubCast because I wanted to introduce all of the readers to my new project. I started a podcast a couple of months ago and I think I have finally hit my stride with the show. For those of you who don’t know what a podcast is think nerd radio. That pretty much sums it up. Podcasting is radio on-demand downloaded from the internet and there is a lot of freedom with it. Much like this blog, I use it as an extension of the thoughts and observations I have from behind the bar. It is a chance for me to talk with guests about their experiences here in Utah and to get a fresh take to the stream of baloney that I have been writing about for the last two years.
The SLC PubCast is my vehicle to get my nasally voice onto the computer and into your ear buds. I’d like to think it’s like bellying up to my bar and listen to me drone on for about an hour with a group of friends. I finally got the show on iTunes and we’re slowly taking off. My focus will still be on the blog but I am excited about expanding this media empire out from my basement and into the world.
So, this is what you can do for me: subscribe to the SLC PubCast on iTunes, rate and comment on the show. If you’ve enjoyed the two-years of free funny I’ve brought with Raskin’s Rhetoric, I’m sure you’re going to love spending an hour with me on you iPod. The PubCast is free and it doesn’t cost you a single red cent. I am going to try and produce two shows a week with some great guests and some really randy talk. If you haven’t noticed about the blog, I try to keep the profanity to a minimum—that certainly isn’t the case with the podcast. Hide you daughters! I use the F-word more than my mother would appreciate. I am really stoked with all of the guests that have been on the PubCast and I am looking forward to some great shows with some interesting people in the upcoming weeks.
For what it’s worth, thank you to everyone that’s read Raskin’s Rhetoric. Between the column and the podcast I am excited about keeping everyone informed about the goings-on behind the bar.
Ben Raskin is a self-promoting buffoon and bartends at Keys On Main Wednesday through Saturday. Follow him on Twitter @BennyRaskin. Subscribe, rate and comment on his podcast, SLC PubCast, today.