Bartenders are listeners.
You sit at the bar. You drink. The Bartender listens.
The topics can be tricky.
The patron’s ex-wife.
This one is real tricky.
The bartender has to try to kill this conversation because the person to the left is somebody’s ex-wife and the guy to the right is going out with an ex-wife.
The patron talking about his ex-wife is not a happy guy. He gets a couple of drinks in he will get morose and then the bar will get morose and morose people tip poorly.
Politics. Not good right now. Republicans are morose.
Religion. Fire and damnation. Morose.
The Floridian’s Favorite Warm Coat. This is one of my favorites.
Every Floridian has one warm coat he wears during those coupla weeks in December when the Canadians slip us a couple of those too-dam-cold “Canadian Cold Fronts.”
This week that one warm coat is heading to hibernation in the back of the closet but next October it will be back again.
By October we will be sick of the heat and overjoyed to welcome that first, refreshing cool front.
People will laugh and drink and dance naked in the streets.
By December some of those cold fronts will get fiercer and colder and more belligerent.
There will be bitterly cold “Canadian Cold Fronts”. Dam Canadians.
Those warm coats will climb back out of their closets and the locals and their warm coats will march into the bar like critters marching into the ark – arm in arm – two by two.
On those cold nights it is as if every bar stool has two guests – the patron and their coat.
The coats are introduced to the bartender and the other patrons in the bar.
“I got this coat from my sister’s ex-husband - he played football at Notre Dame. SOB is still behind in alimony and I’m keeping the goddam coat.”
“I got this coat from the mayor of Buffalo – we got raided in a poker game and he had to rush out without it.”
“I got this coat in Failene’s basement for a dollar in ’72.”
There is always a lady in a great big fur – testimony to acres of forest denuded of small animals.
The lady with the fur loves her coat – as martinis slide down she begins to slide deeper into the fur and the warm, romantic memories of her lost youth.
“Ralph gave me this coat after he got back from Vegas”.
A guilty fur coat.
I’ll miss the winter coat talk. Memories of winter coat convesations will keep me cooler in the hot days from now until the next “big chill” in October.
One dog day in September, when the heat is cruel and relentles and crushing, I will dig around in the trunk at the back of the closet for my special warm coat.
I will slide into it like an old boot and go sit by the pool in the white hot sun and I will dream of cold fronts and all my friends around the bar in their special coats - shiny suede, broken zippers, mismatched buttons and matted sheepskin collars.
I will look forward to cooler days again and I will wonder what Ralph did in Vegas that was so bad he had to buy that fur.
Sean Murphy, Beach Bistro - as syndicated to the AMI SUN