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Bar Life, Health, Salt Lake City, Utah

Thirteen Is The New B

Happy New Year’s, y’all.

I want to wish everyone a very happy 2013. 2013. 13 is not just a great number, it is my lucky number. It’s the day in March that my father was born and one of the few squares on a roulette table that always gets a chip. It is the number of donuts found in a baker’s dozen and Wilt Chamberlain wore it through his career. Wilt was known to be a ladies man. 13 is a prime number and as we all know, prime numbers are the best numbers after Avogadro’s and 42. Avogadro’s number is defined as the number of constituent particles (usually atoms or molecules) in one mole of a given substance and 42 is the answer to life, the universe and everything.

13 is the odd man out when it comes to calendars and days of Christmas but it is the age boys and girls get to celebrate their Bar Mitzvah. 13 squared is 169 but more importantly, 13 is a Fibonacci number, a happy number, and one of only 3 known Wilson primes. In case you fell asleep in your 3rd grade math class, Fibonacci numbers are found in a sequence, happy numbers are confusing and the Wilson primes are an Atlantic City lounge act.

There are 13 turns in a hangman’s noose. It was the total of people not including wait staff at the Last Supper and most hotels don’t have a 13th floor because some people suffer from Triskaidekaphobia. Triskaidekaphobia is the fear of the number of 13 which is almost as silly as Coulrophobia—fear of clowns.

Tarot cards have Death on a white horse for the XIII but our country was started with 13 colonies represented with 13 stars on the Betsy Ross flag. Some consider 13 to be bad luck but according to Gene Kranz, it was NASA’s finest hour with Apollo 13 defying the odds and making it back to Earth in one piece.

Best of all, as Mitch Hedberg noted, if you push the 1 and 3 together it forms a B and we all know this is the best letter in the alphabet. This is because B is for Benny, burgers, beer, brats, baseball and babes.

In the grand scheme, 13 and B are pretty important symbols.

In bidding 2012 goodbye and welcoming in 2013, I was behind the bar at Keys On Main. I was five people deep with the horns of Gabriel blaring and confetti cannons exploding throughout the room. The night was a blur with the exception of where I was when Baby New Year dropped kicked Father Time in the beanbag. For the third year in a row, I was hunched over the register ringing in a round of shots while the celebration exploded around me. For three straight years, I am trying to find the JagerBomb button while people are counting down to zero.

It’s kind of depressing.

There is never an option of not working on New Year’s Eve. Like St. Patrick’s Day, it is the mandatory shift that all bar employees dread. It is a night of rookie drinkers with too much pre-gaming and a lot of expectations. People come for the celebration but leave wanting more than what we can give them. It really stinks that people thumb their nose at the champagne toast. In a perfect world, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Tilly would be offering midnight kisses as the clock strikes 12 but we don’t live in a perfect world. If we did, I would have been given washboard abs and a helicopter pilot license.

A few people made the list on the 31st. One guy in particular was wearing a cross between Tommy Hilfiger and a homeless person. Imagine if a douchebag and a hipster had a love child that loved drinking Fireball and complaining about Utah’s liquor laws. He had matching bright orange sneakers with vest, scarf, two button down shirts and a pompadour made out of more lard than follicles. He warned me that he was an experienced drunk from Iowa (please, let that sink in for a moment…thank you, continue reading) and he thinks starting a tab means one should go to AA meetings. I warned him repeatedly that guys like you give fellows like WC Fields and Jennifer Tilly a bad name. Instead, he cashed and carried all night long and wondered why we weren’t able to serve more drinks.

The drink de noir on New Year’s was rum and cokes. I have honestly not poured that much rum on a particular evening since we hosted Rum-apalooza in 2009. That night was a disaster. It brought in the worst types of customers—pirates! It was the kind of night that I kept wishing SEAL Team Six would put an end to. Back to the future, I poured a gazillion (that’s gazillion with a G) rum and cokes on New Year’s. I was surprised that people would want the last thing to pass their lips on 2012 to be Bacardi. Not that Bacardi is a bad product but if I was them and they were me and I was in a committed relationship with Jennifer Tilly, I probably would have tried to drink my weight in bourbon. Bourbon means you’ve arrived and life is a steady companion as you move forward. You’re a master of industry, the toast of the ball and a cool customer. Like a young Paul Newman or an old John Candy. With rum, you project both vomit and an image of being ludicrous and immature. Nothing screams, “Please don’t hog tie me officer,” then a Cuba Libre.

Speaking of Cuba Libres, I politely told a lady that her rum and coke with a lime is a Cuba Libre and she told me I didn’t know what I was talking about. She said that she spoke Spanish and Cuba Libre means Free Cuba. I told her that a wet pussy shot doesn’t include vagina juices or an AMF is what people say to Danny Trejo when he leaves a room. Drinks have interesting names. For example, I came up with something that was a concoction of Rumplemintz and vodka that I called Prison Rape. Does this mean only Andy Dufresne could drink it? Heck no! That’s why I don’t like people trying to tell me the history of mixology who don’t have any more experience than watching an episode of “Duck Dynasty” under their belt.

By the way, have you guys seen “Duck Dynasty?” I hate assigning homework but I would appreciate everyone giving me a 500-word review of the show by next Tuesday. I watched a couple of episodes with my buddy Scott Croft on New Year’s Day and I am hooked. It’s like Honey Boo Boo grew a beard, found Jesus and learned to carve a duck call. Actually, it is exactly like that.

The life of the bartender is a series of mini-battles that compose one’s career. For me, New Year’s is a battle of attrition that is won only because last call eventually comes. I was at work for almost 13-hours and when I finally got home, I felt like a bit of me died. We lost a lot of good men out there that night. These are good guys with families and jobs and a future cut short by choosing to drink the free champagne and not stand up for right and God and the good ol’ US of A.

I have no idea what I am talking about.

But there I was for 13-hours—13-hours away from my family and spending the New Years with my work family. They’re good people who work hard and care about each other and want to do their best. We work for a good guy who is invested both financially and emotionally with the club. It makes it a lot easier to go out there and try to put the better part of the 801 in a chokehold for my boss because he is a standup guy. If he had been the type of fella who enjoys a snifter of Fireball, I might be inclined to do less than the bare minimum. But it is still hard to enjoy the evening away from Erin.

The real casualty of all of these nights in that Erin is away with other people instead of me. If anything gets me out of this God forsaken business, it will be to spend more time with her.

So, raise a post-New Year’s glass to 2013. May it surpass 2012 in width and girth and fun and laughter. I hope everyone has tastes of success and finds time to enjoy it with friends and family. I only made a few New Year’s Resolutions: spell better, no eating at places with drive-through, take the gimp out of the basement more often and try to be a better person in general. I know that trying to be a better person is a milquetoast resolution but go suck a lemon. Considering what most of my friends have to deal with, it is the least I could do to try and salvage any relationships that I still have.

To 2013. The Year of the squished together B. To you and to me. And to my special friend Jennifer Tilly.

Ben Raskin bartends at Keys On Main Wednesday through Saturday. Follow him on Twitter @BennyRaskin. Podcast? What’s a podcast? Erin is cool with the Jennifer Tilly stuff. Right, Honey?

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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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