Monday, June 25, 2007

low brow

Saturday night at the sports bar, a regular from another season came in a bit tipsy. (The sports bar has about ten sets of regulars, who are led by the seasonal cycles of their teams' schedules.) She had been at the A's game, which to many New Yorker's was known as the Mets game.

The lesson she had learned, with several other Californian transplants in Shea Stadium, was a use of language.

"Maybe" she said, "is a word that can be used in new york like no where else. I can use it to emphasize hating the exact thing that I'm proposing." She described how the eight dudes from Brooklyn in the row in front of her all night long had explored the possibilities of the word maybe.

Their usage:
"Maybe the A's got a hit. Maybe you can go f*ck yourself."

Her usage:
"Maybe the Mets won. Maybe you can go f*ck yourself."

also, somewhat more sheepishly:
"Maybe I give a sh*t. Maybe you can go f*ck yourself."

It's a great way to be angry, and still express your defensive and somewhat sensitive side.
Try it, go on. Try it. It's a sports bar, you can say anything you'd like.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Ask the Bartender : Advice Column #2

Here's the second installment of my new Ask the Bartender Advice Column, published in the Connect Statesboro of the Statesboro Herald. See it on their site here. If you have questions, I'd love to answer them. If you'd like a similar column, or to syndicate this column, please let me know.

Dear Bartender,

About two months ago I started dating a friend of a friend. He and I immediately liked each other, and were regularly spending weekends together. The third or fourth time we saw each other, he told me for the first time, "You can't expect anything from this. I don't want to hurt you. I'm still getting over my ex-girlfriend, and I can't guarantee you that I won't be an asshole to you." I know I should have taken these warnings as a huge red flag, but I rationalized these statements away by placing more importance on how he behaved toward me—he was kind and flattering and curious about me—than on what he said to me during these brief, grave conversations.

My question is not about how to interpret his behavior. I know that it is time for me to move on to a less complicated and less degrading kind of relationship. My problem is that I continue to care about this, even though it only makes me unhappy and mean. I know that I like him but that the timing is bad, and there's nothing I can do about it. In spite of that, I am hanging on, beating myself up about it. I have never acted like such a fool before, and I'm not sure why I'm doing it or what I can do to make myself stop. What should I do?

Let go. Run like hell. When someone tells you that they can't love you, or don't deserve you, or aren't ready, you should say "absolutely". Swallow that rock in your throat, finish your beer, and rejoice in the fact that they knew themselves so well to know that they don't deserve you, and can't love you. You must respect yourself enough to hear the things people are trying to tell you, and act appropriately. It doesn't matter if you blame timing, or ex-lovers, or whatever is happening in their life: they can't be with you, so you can't be with them either. You deserve someone who is madly in love with you. You are worth it. You should never convince someone to be in a relationship.

Meanwhile, we all know that hollow ache in the ribcage. You should nurse your broken heart with some beer. You need something more bitter than the truth, made with flowers, something that withstands long journeys and oceans of regret. I want you to drink some India Pale Ale. This beer originated with British brewers who needed a beer that could be shipped to their occupying empire in India. The hops and higher alcohol acted as preservatives, which withstood the long journey and kept the flavor of the brews fresh. You will drink these pints as an elixir of your own self-preservation. You are a strong and lovely woman, and this strong beer is going to remind you of who you want to be. This is a style of beer which American brewers can truly say they've improved upon. You are improving on your own life too.

I'm not sure what's on your local pub's tap lines, but if they have them, pick from these breweries: Avery, Dogfishhead, Stone, Sixpoint, Rogue, Fisherman's, or Weyerbacher. If they don't have them, tell the manager that you can't stand their terrible selection and demand they order a keg of something worth drinking. Pick one kind of IPA to drink for the night. After two or three pints, cut yourself off before your drunk. Go home, turn off the light, and sleep. Dream of sea journeys and adventure. One morning you will wake up not thinking about this boy, or this mess you're getting out of. You'll be thinking about the man you met the night before, who was enthralled by everything you said, and won't spring some dumb state-of-the-union talk on you unless there's a ring involved.

Dear Bartender,

Is it sleazy to go to a sports bar to pick up dudes if you aren't actually into sports? I'm the kind of girl who loves bars and beer and drinking, and my friends tell me that sports bars are full of eligible men. I've been considering it.

Please, don't be the misplaced girl who tries to distract true fans from their one weekly event of happiness. Sports distract people from their lives, allow them to collectively rejoice or anguish over their team's play. Fans love these teams and sports historically; they know players, stats, stories, yet still relish in the carnal joy of watching athletes perform well. There must be something in your life that you adore like sports fans adore their teams. You should try to date someone who has similar interests, not someone whose interests obviously diverge.

You may also want to consider these deterrents: 1. Fans like to date other fans, and there will be trivia involved which will make you look dumb. 2. Men who have girlfriends or wives often go to sports bars with their friends, where they all act like college kids again. After all the cheering and drinking is over, they are going home to their partners, not with you. 3. Again, you shouldn't try to date people who love stuff that you don't even like, certainly not as the inception of your relationship. 4. Sports fans are there to watch the game, and talk about sports, not to be bothered explaining it all to you.

If you love bars and beer, go to a Belgian or specialty beer bar. The men there are probably more eligible, and would love to share a fine pint with a girl who doesn't like sports. Maybe you could explain a thing or two to them, and appear as the smart girl you are, not the idiot girl in the sports bar.

Ask the Bartender : Advice Column #1

This is a reprint of the Connect Statesboro Publication of my column. To see their site, go here.
Soon I'm trying to get this column into syndication, so if you know any editors who might want to pick it up, let me know. If you have questions you'd like to see in a future column, please leave them in comments. Thanks!

Dear Bartender:
I'm 30. I've been spending a lot of time with a girl who's ten years younger than me. She's beautiful, smart, talented and just a little bit random. I helped her get through a rough personal situation, and she's been a lot of fun for me, since I just got out of a long relationship. I want something more with this girl, but she says she just wants to "be her" and not date anybody. It's killing me - and what's especially killing me is that lately she's been spending a lot of time with a really scuzzy-looking guy who just happens to have similar taste to her in music. Should I just chalk this one up as a lost cause and try to move on?
And yes, this is a situation that's actually been driving me to pound back more Jaeger shots than usual these days.

Dear Jaegerator,

About the girl, It sounds like you're waiting to be told what you already know. She's not old enough to go to a bar with you legally, and probably won't enjoy a good cocktail for years to come. Chalk that one up to capricious youth. You both leaned on each other to get through some stories that were ending. She, the frivolous young thing, was meant to extend the good times of the long-term relationship, to remind you how you felt when you were happy with someone else, not to double the drinking comfort college kid shots time. She was a distraction. That scuzzy boy probably won't be serious enough for her in a few months; he's just a two-can Sam. Don't think about him. Take her advice first, be you. Take a break from the drama. People who don't pay rent for the space they inhabit in your heart should be evicted.

In a month, or a few weeks, when you're ready, you'll find yourself sitting at a long stretch of mahogany, oiled with old beer and a printed coaster in front of you. Take my advice then: stop drinking the Jaeger. Order yourself an old fashioned. Tell your bartender to think pre-prohibition old fashioned: just bourbon, a dash or two of bitters, a dash of simple syrup, and a hunk of ice. Take an orange peel and a lit match: squeeze the orange peel to send a little splash of flame over the top of the drink, run the warm peel around the edge of the glass, and drop it in. When a lady sits down who you think could have watched the same Saturday morning cartoons as you did, ask the bartender to send a drink down the bar to her. Order her a Pink Lady - it's an old sweet favorite. Wait for her to come over to you, enchanted.

For bonus points, ask her if she had a tree house when she was a little girl. Listen intently as she describes it to you. Next round, matching drinks, Bees Knees (Gin, honey, lemon).

Dear Bartender:

Should I get bangs? I know the eighties are over and back again, but I've been thinking about it more and more lately. Well, should I?

Get some bangs and drink some whiskey. Neat. Girls who have bangs and drink neat whiskey are more fun than everyone else.

Dear Bartender:

Two of my friends are getting married to each other. I introduced them a couple years ago (set them up on a blind date!) and we've stayed in touch, but they didn't invite me to their wedding. Most of our mutual friends were invited. I'm not sure if I should feel totally slighted or just slightly annoyed. I'm not a big fan of weddings, but I definitely would've appreciated the gesture of an invitation. How should I respond to this situation, and does this mean we're no longer friends?

Nixed from the Nuptials (Texas)

Dear Nixed,

It's odd that they didn't invite you, but weddings are such complicated social feasts that any number of things could have happened to keep the invitation out of your mailbox. They could have had a limited number of guests for instance, or thought you wouldn't have come, or a million other reasons. We don't need to figure them out, instead to decide how to act. First, congratulations on successfully setting up your friends and it lasting- a rare occasion indeed. Let us, on the announcement of their marriage, be happy for them. My advice to you, despite not being invited, is to send them a card and a ridiculously nice bottle of champagne. Let the card read, "I am delighted to have heard of your engagement. When I set you up on the blind date that led to you both finding happiness in each other, I could have only dreamed for this to happen. I value you both as friends, and wish I could be there to see the great ceremony. I hope that you can toast with this bottle of champagne at the reception. I miss you both, and wish you the best."

I imagine instead of a thank you card, you'll receive a weepy and smiling phone call from the bride, begging you to be there on the big day. Then, if you want to go, go. If you don't want to go, ask her to meet you for cocktails after the honeymoon. If she doesn't call, ask her to meet you for cocktails anyway. Sip a pair of Queen's Park Swizzles while she complains about all the things that went wrong in your absence.