Sad, but not tragic. A forced opportunity. Maybe even a fortunate adaptation…fuck it. Let's make taco salad.

Bar Stories

First Night

When Michael approached me about taking over the bar for a few months, my very first objection was that I didn’t want to clean up someone’s vomit in the bathroom.  It’s a bar!  It’s bound to happen, right??  “Oh no, that never happens here.  It’s just not that kind of place.  Besides, Rich knows what’s going on with all the customers and can always head those things off.”  Right…

It’s my first night on the job, and the first group down the steps is a nice young French couple traveling with their mom.  They order a drink.  Rich sits down with them and gives them 20 minutes of free travel advice.  Suddenly, French Girl gets up to go to the bathroom, passes out and drops like a sack of potatoes on the barroom floor (altitude sickness).  She then goes to the bathroom and vomits, and they rush out never to be seen again.  Freak occurrence.  Surely.

 

Superman Goes Down Hard

It’s my SECOND NIGHT of working and our friend Clark Kent comes in late (see reference photo below).  We had seen him a couple of times before and he seemed his normal self…the reality was, it was 10 pm and he had been drinking since NOON.  He has a couple of beers, goes to the bathroom for an abnormally long time (because he is vomiting in my fucking sink), comes out, grabs his coat and goes straight up the steps without a word.  He fumbles at the door and Rich rushes up to help him…too late.  He passes out, falls backwards down the steps and hits his head on the brick wall at the bottom.  The good news is that he was so drunk he was just fine…well, after about an hour or so.  The bad news is that I’m on cleanup duty for the second night in a row.

 

I’m Just Gonna Crash Here…

 

The SAME FUCKING NIGHT, I meet an couple from the US who have a travel agency here.  In fact, the female (we’ll call her Dopey) is from my hometown.  Cool!  We have something in common…or…  I sat down next to her to chat her up a bit but quickly discovered I would be better off trying to converse with a llama.  And she wasn’t even drunk yet…

 

Dopey’s voice was so whiny and grating in that classic American style – you KNOW what I’m talking about – that my housemate Macarla literally packed up her shit and headed for the door within 10 minutes of their arrival.

 

But for the sake of relationship-building and client relations, I stick with it for another 5 minutes.  “How long did you live in Portland?  Do you have family there?  How long have you been in Cusco?  Do you like it here?”  All I get back is some crap about a dog and a lawn chair in Texas.  Fuck client relations.  I’m going behind the bar to pretend I’m cooking.

 

Dopey and Fiancee decide the best course of action is to play a drinking game where you take a 1 ounce shot of beer every 60 seconds for 30 minutes straight.  (Who the fuck plays drinking games in their 30’s anyway?  Didn’t we get that out of our systems somewhere around the first year of college?)  They rope in a couple other suckers at the bar and go at it.  Twenty minutes in, Dopey starts to do the narcoleptic head bob while sitting at a barstool.  Seems slightly unsafe.  I say to Fiancee, “Hey man, maybe you should keep an eye on her so she doesn’t crack her head on the bar or fall off the damn stool.”  His (deadpan) response: “No.  She does this all the time.”  Fucking fine.  Go nuts.  Three minutes later, she smashes her head into the bar.  Fiancee grabs her, throws her into a booth, and resumes his rightful position in the game.  Five minutes later, Dopey bolts for the bathroom and locks herself in.  After vomiting (…in the trash can instead of the toilet? What the hell is wrong with you people!), she proceeds to sit down on the toilet and take a 20 minute siesta.  Then she returns, straightens her hair, they politely pay their (sizeable) bill, say their goodbyes, and head for the exit.  Come back anytime?

 

 

Kris and The Drooler

Our good friend Kris is a regular customer and was drinking for a couple hours with someone he does some business with.  The guy was clearly wasted, but because we trust Kris, we kept serving him.  But then the bar cleared out and it was just us.  And he decided to share The Knowledge with us.  (Let me first clarify that this guy is so drunk that he is literally foaming at the mouth.)

“HEY, MY FRIEND, you know what the most important thing is?  RESPECT.  Let me have your cigarette…”

“No way, man.”

“HEY, AMIGO, wait, wait, LISTEN, you know what the most important thing is?  SEX.  Give me your cigarette…”

“Fuck no.”

“HEY, MY FRIEND, I need to tell you something. You know what the most important thing is?  FAMILY.  I need one drag off your cigarette…”

“No fucking way.  Look at yourself, man!  You’re a goddamn mess!”

“HEY, MY GOOD, GOOD FRIEND, you know what the most important thing is?  YOUR MOTHER.  I need one drag off your cigarette…”

“You’re kidding me right now, right?  There is no way in hell I am handing you my cigarette.”

“LISTEN, LISTEN! You know what the most important thing is?  MY DAUGHTER. [Tries to swipe the cigarette from my hand.]”

“No, YOU listen motherfucker.  I will give you a cigarette but you are not touching mine with that foamy fucking mouth of yours.”

“No, no I don’t need a whole cigarette, but LISTEN. You know what the most important thing is?  PUSSY.  I want your cigarette…”

“Get the fuck out of my bar.”

Other Highlights:

-The manager from the live music club above us came down one night with a crazy-looking Peruvian hippy/artist/musician from Lima and he asked me (in Spanish) to comp them a drink in exchange for a future drink at their place.  I played stupid and looked to Rich for approval and got the “I don’t really give a shit right now” shrug of the shoulders.  Fuck it, good for neighborly relations.  So I pour them a Cuba Libre and try to chat them up in my sweet Españolish.  Two minutes later, I realize this conversation is going nowhere if I don’t start drinking as well.  Ten minutes later, I’m two drinks in.  Twenty minutes later, after they both revealed that they had spent time on the streets of Lima singing romantic love songs in English for tips, it was time to sing some Foreigner.  All three of us.  A cappella.  At the top of our lungs.  “I WANNA KNOW WHAT LOVE IIIISSSSSS…I WANT YOU TO SHOW MEEEEEEEEE…”  The look on his face told me, definitively, that Rich would never, ever cede control of the bar to me again.

 

-One night, my man Sam and I decided it would be a good idea to close the door, get out the bottle of Sauza, and go for a little Rob Zombie excursion at 3 am.  At 9:30 am, I woke up on the bar couch with a smashed thumb (still no idea what that was about, but it’s still only 50% functional 6 weeks later) and a reasonably righteous headache.  Sam was asleep in a booth and I don’t think his back will ever be the same.  We did discover that night that there is a “Maximum Volume” on our stereo setup.  Interesting.  Good thing we’re in an underground bunker with a double-bolted door.  (Ladies, this is what actually happens when you leave your fiancée alone for a week.)

 

-My good friend Alex is a regular at the bar who loves to get into heated discussions on just about any topic.  Two weeks ago, a very sweet young guy from DC made the mistake of expressing a belief in Christianity.  Thirty minutes later I hear, “YOU are what scares the hell out of me.  YOU are the reason I will never have children.  YOU are the source of all the ignorance and hypocrisy in the world.”  Fantastic.

 

-We do happen to have the most delicious popcorn around, and keeping the free popcorn flowing seems to keep the drinks coming as well.  Or, if people are coming in already half-loaded, sometimes the popcorn can’t make it to their mouths fast enough.  My friend Becca has the blessing (or curse) of quite large breasts.  I don’t happen to be a “boob man” myself, but most men are, and Juan Carlos (King of Spain) seems to be a particularly acute case.  Becca came bounding down the steps late on a Saturday “well lubed” and proceeded to sit down next to Juan Carlos and annihilate his entire bowl of popcorn in short order.  He did not object as he was quite busy staring at her chest.  There was popcorn shrapnel.  On the boob.  I tried to discreetly point it out, as we are buddies.  Juan Carlos was not quite so subtle:  “What happened to your boobs?  Are they hungry?”

 

 

I’ve had to resign myself to living a completely fucked schedule.  Case in point:  last night the bar was closed and we were cleaned up and empty by 11 pm.  Did we walk out the door?  Of course not.  We got out the chess board and the Cusquena and stayed up playing until 3:30 am.  Fucking stupid.

The good news is that we have made remarkable progress in a very short time in creating a consistently profitable business.  We have a great network of locals and are now attracting a consistent flow of tourists due to improved marketing.  We are also now the #1 restaurant/bar in Cusco on Trip Advisor thanks to help from our many fans.  The other good news is that I meet amazing people every night and have more stories than I have time to tell them.  The bad news is that I have to work all the goddamn time, which really cuts into the writing.  It’s time to hire someone else to grate cheese and do the dishes.

 

“Great drinks.  Killer popcorn.  Mostly interesting conversation.”


One Response to “Bar Stories”

  1. Anonymous says:

    It sounds like you will have plenty of material for your book! 🙂
    -Laura

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