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Bar Life, Salt Lake City, Utah

Plaid Nightmares

Plaid is the new Affliction and plaid Affliction shirts are the devil’s creation.

Remember the good old days when you saw a guy in a Raider’s jersey and you knew he was up to no good? It seems like every trouble maker these days at the club are sporting a new plaid button down and a sense of entitlement. We had to toss out a couple of guests last week from the bar and they were sporting the new uniform of the d-bag: busy plaid shirt, bedazzled jeans and a belly full of energy drink.

Red Bull and Affliction make for odd bedfellows. One makes you jittery and the other makes you look like an optical illusion. It’s funny that I’ve never needed Red Bull to become an asshole when I’ve been drinking. One of the guys we tossed last week was literally spinning in circles with his girlfriend choking him out as we were trying to haul him out of the bar. He screamed at us to get off of him when me and the door staff raised our hands in the air proving the reason he was losing oxygen to his brain was his whacked out lady friend was slowly strangling him.

The one thing everybody we kicked out shared was a love of plaid Affliction shirts. The definition of affliction is the cause of persistent pain or distress. They are kind of like salt and vinegar potato chips—they are exactly what we think they are. The only thing about Affliction I like is the fact that James Coburn won an Academy Award for the movie. Wrestling a guy to the floor and trying to get a grasp on a guy wearing the aforementioned shirts usually leads me to a bad grip between the cheap material and the leaking spray-on tan.

In full disclosure: the vast majority of the shirts I wear are plaid. This is not a 20-year homage to the Mighty Mighty Bosstones or the fact that I shop for clothes at IFA. I’ve worn plaid simply because they are both slimming and usually the only shirts that fit. Also, plaid hides mustard stains better than other pattern. I am not a slave to fashion. I recently determined that of the two jammed backed drawers filled with T-shirts, I only wear four. I should probably stop bringing home liquor swag. Left to my own devices and enough deodorant, I probably would wear the same outfit for a week.

Serving guests who usurp my lack of fashion is disturbing. Chugging Red Bull based drinks and “Bro-ing” me to death is exhausting especially when you are staring into a tartan that I might own. It’s the Rule of Draper. Whenever you make any clothes purchase consider whether or not Don Draper would ever been seen wearing it. If it is covered in gothic lettering or faux-tribal tattoos, chances are Draper would default to a suit instead of looking like a human peacock.

Ironically enough, the nicest guy in the club this weekend was wearing an Affliction shirt that was so busy a douchebag told him to get a jacket. It was some sort of monstrous silkscreen that had equal parts tribal patterns and subliminal AXE Body Spray ads. He ordered a frozen pina colada (topped with whipped cream and extra cherries) and a Hefeweizen for his girlfriend. He was polite, tipped well and happily watched the show sucking a boat drink with no fear of judgment. So much for judging books by their covers.

The current dress code at the bar prohibits men from coming into the club with cut-off shirts. It’s our F-you to the Kobe Bryant jersey wearer who wants to show off his jailhouse tats and flabby biceps. I am going to petition that we expand the dress code to ban people wearing camouflage hunting hats. Hipsters wearing John Deere hats ironically are okay. I’m referring to the good ol’ boys sporting their best hunting cap and questioning me for three straight hours what the Hell is a dueling piano show. Camo only looks good on pre-teen boys and soldiers. Guys in camo hats tend to view the world as a hammer looks at a nail. They pound Coors Light and stare me down like I was breaking into their duck blind. Getting rid of the camo hats doesn’t mean the terrorist are winning but rather the hillbillies aren’t.

Friday’s VIP was a collection of Affliction and camo hats with a dusting of Raider’s tattoos thrown in for good measure. Arguably the worst group of people I have poured drinks for in a very long time. They looked like porcelain dolls with dead eyes and gasping mouths. They stared intently at me and when I asked them what they wanted, they shook me away dismissively. Scrolling along the bar looking for the next customer, they looked like carp in a reflection pool until one of the school admonished me why they were waiting for yet another Coors Light.

When they finally wanted something, they would hold up a bottle in one hand and a single finger on the other. I would grab their beer and when I came back they wanted to know why I didn’t bring three. I am not a math scientist but one finger equals one beer. This is the kind of knuckleheadery that makes pouring drinks a choir. Nothing slows down service more than weird body language and erratic behavior. I am not talking about the drunks but those time bandits who monopolize my time by acting so far from the social norm that I have to break my flow to take care of their special needs.

Best way to get a fast drink is to know what you want and know how you’re going to pay for it.

People who get a bit of a pass with me not knowing how to act in the bar are people celebrating their 21st birthday. This young guy ordered an Irishman’s Breakfast on Thursday and I had to ask him what the Hell is that. At first I thought he was ordering a plate of bangers and eggs. He recently returned from Ireland and wanted to play a game of stumping the bartender. He was dressed curiously. He was a toe-head with a tussle of hair that covered his face wearing a blue blazer over a dress shirt that was two sizes too small. Imagine Alex from A Clockwork Orange instead he was addicted to buffets and not homicidal sexual assault.

As an Irish-American, I asked him what an Irishman’s Breakfast was. He snottily told me it was a shot of whiskey and a draft of beer. He meant a Boiler Maker but I guess jet lag gave him the artistic license to rename one of my all-time favorite drinks. I could have dressed him down but I don’t know what I would have done with that blazer. Instead I wished him a happy birthday. I figure he’ll know how to order a proper drink in a couple of years.

Someone who didn’t know how to order a drink from me was some chucklebunny from the EU. I was taking care of a woman when he reached over the bar and started tapping me with his empty white wine glass. My biggest pet peeve behind the bar is people touching me. I don’t have personal space issues away from the club. I just believe that the last thing that I want is to have somebody touch me when I am slinging drinks. I told him to wait when he said he needed more chardonnay. When we think of winos images of bums under bridges usually come to mind. The reality is that most winos wear suits or cocktail dresses.

I gave the wino the business telling him that I would stop everything and serve him over the woman. He eventually got the hint and apologized and offered to buy her a drink. She said she only shoots Jameson. My kind of woman. He ordered two shots and proceeded to wheeze his way into not getting any strange on his business trip. He horked the Utah ounce and a mouthful of chardonnay right on the bar and the girl sauntered away smiling at the middle-age crisis unfolding in front of her.

On that note: who is cheaper in the tipping department: Mormons or Europeans? Trick question.

Probably in your job place you don’t encounter a lot of people that claim that they pilot Apache helicopters for a living but I have had more whirling bird captains in front of my bar than I couple count. Is there a better pick-up line than saying you fly war helicopters? Best part, how do you check to see if somebody is lying? It’s not like there is a downloadable roster to check who flies and who lies. There was a really cool guy in the bar that was working a girl for most of the night. He bought her drinks and talked about flying his Apache and putting it through her the motions. They eventually left together presumably for her to pull his yoke.

There could not be a further gap in coolness than said helicopter pilot and the Affliction wearer. Yet, they all make it to the club somehow. I think the bar is good for bringing in a lot of different personalities which makes every evening completely different. Considering we don’t get a lot of regulars in the club, I like the change of scenery every night. I could just go for a couple less embroidered plaid shirts.

Ben Raskin bartends at Keys On Main Wednesday through Saturday. Follow him on Twitter @BennyRaskin. Check out his podcast, SLC PubCast, on iTunes. In case you forgot, he still thinks Coors Light drinkers are idiots.

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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.

Discussion

One thought on “Plaid Nightmares

  1. Yes! Another great column! It was good to see you on Friday night. Not sure if you even remember I was there. I just wanted to let you know that I saw two of your pet peeves within 12 seconds of each other and I laughed out loud. Some girl bitching about liquor laws to you, and I looked at your face to see what witticism you came up with, followed by a guy paying for a drink with a credit card and asking you to ring it. For one drink. Eye opening indeed.

    Posted by Natalie | June 18, 2012, 8:23 pm

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