Tuesday, April 23, 2013


            What a fucking month? Hey, it’s okay. I’m sure everyone goes through alcohol poisoning, bronchitis, deaths of friends, working crazy bar shifts, reading about bombings in my old city, birthdays, break ups, drunken hazes, and jury duty all in three weeks. Just as Winter feels like a 5 inch splinter slowly pulled out from between our fingers to extricate its grey and dull ass from our Spring existence, I find myself thinking of fictions to take my mind off the onslaught of depressing, horrific, and just plain unfair conditions 2013 has beset upon existence.
Fictions help us; fictions, make us laugh, fictions remind that yes, just when everything is slipping into total anarchy, it’s still possible to smile as you breathe in the ashes.
            Even if you’re the one who has to play the fool.
            Everybody shows their ass in life—that is assurance. I suppose its time to show mine (I do it all the time—I’m used to it by now. I’ve got one calloused ass).
            Ladies and Gentleman, allow me to introduce you to a middle age man named Frank Harris. He’s a no nonsense type of guy. He drinks 31 Budweisers to go to sleep at night. He works in the construction milieu, though his specific duties are not discussed. He sips his beer at the bar with bad posture, and when he speaks to you he doesn’t really meet your eyes. He looks through you when he speaks. Not in any cruel or machismo way, but in the way someone who just worked 56 hours in 2 days would look. He is from a non-descript town in New England. There’s usually dried white paint specks on his rough hands. He’s probably really good to drink with (it is an art). He has never lied (except to idiots).
            I like this guy. I like guys like this. But, sadly, Frank Harris is a fiction. A character I’ve created. A fiction to amuse me. But I use Frank Harris sometimes.
            Anyone who knows me well knows that if I ever introduce myself as Frank, I have absolutely no respect for the person I’m talking to at that moment. Sort of a failsafe for assholes.
            But one fateful night at The Subway Bar (God rest it’s haunted ass), I had to bring Frank Harris out, and not only just to give out a fake name, but I became Frank Harris.
            Story time kids.
            Love sucks. Everybody remember love? I know sometimes it’s hard to remember exactly that feeling, but squint your eyes with me. Yes, like that roller coaster feeling. Someone simply rocks your fucking world, for whatever reason. Well, that's what happened to me. Just when I thought I could feel no more, along came The Raven-Haired Beauty (any tried and true Bartender Knows fans will remember her from earlier blogs). I met the Raven-Haired Beauty at The Subway Bar no less and was thoroughly infatuated not only by her ravenous consumption of books, remarkable sarcasm, and MENSA brilliance, but she had this jet-black hair that, when released from a pony tail to spill down her shoulders, sent shivers of eroticism coursing through my skin.   
              So either way, long story short, The Raven-Haired Beauty had a lot of class, and when we started hooking up, she told me:
            “Listen. I am with C (we’ll just call this dude “C”). I will continue to sleep with C. This is the way it is. I like you, Matthew, but he was here first. Now kiss me,” she said.
            As a man who hates boundaries for myself and others, I agreed to the terms of our engagement. I applauded her honesty (a rare commodity in the dating world round these parts). But of course, the inevitable occurred. I fell in love with her. And, at each and every turn, there was C. I knew a thing or two about C. He was an actor. He cheated on The Raven-Haired Beauty all the time. He was one of those cocky types who, when he smiled, seemed to relish in the smell of his own shit. That kind of face. And plus I cyber-stalked the fuck out of him on Facebook.
            I created all manner of jealousies in my mind about C. How he was. He must be better than me somehow. I don’t know, I was retarded, just like anyone who still has a beating heart gets. How often does one want things they can’t possess? Answer?
            ALL THE TIME.   
            So one fateful night, there I was with two friends drinking in the dark and shadowed recesses of The Subway Bar, and by blind and terrible luck, who was the man I found, making out with another girl not The Raven-Haired Beauty…none other that C. himself. Wow. I stared down the dark bar. It couldn’t be. But it was. 
            H-O-L-Y S-H-I-T.
            My mind raced. The sad thing is that I’m a masochist. I like to torture myself. I had just recently saw a Facebook post that C. and The Raven-Haired Beauty had gone to Hawaii together. I looked over at my friend, M. Blain. I told him: “That’s C.”
            He looked down and his eyes widened. “Oh no.”
            “Oh yes.”
            “Don’t dude. Don’t. Whatever you’re about to do, don’t do it,” M. Blain said, with only my best interest in mind. But I was a lost cause. I went over to C.
            The chick went to the bathroom and he was alone looking at his phone. I nonchalantly sat on the stool beside him and began rubbing my forehead. “Oh man,” I muttered.
            He looked over. “Tired?" He asked.
            "Man, I need a vacation,” I say in a vague New England accent. Total bait. Yep.
            C. laughs. “Shit man, I just got back from Hawaii. It was great.” (“Duh”, I say in my mind).
            “Yeah. Boy oh boy, I sure wish I could go on vacation. With a young lady, none the less.” (Again, bait…this is water-boarding myself).  
            His eyes brightened up. “Oh, I went with my girl. She’s rad. We had a blast.”
            Now I’ve got a boat anchor lodged on my shoulders. I feel everything positive in my life slipping out through my fingertips, spilling across the beer-soaked bar.
            But I drive the knife in further. “Oh, you got a lady? That’s good, man, that’s good. Sure wish I had a good one. But in New York man they are hard to find.”
            “Well, I got lucky,” he says, and the other girl comes out. He plants one on her. He sees me look confused. He just winks at me with that ‘happy to smell his own shit’ look over the chick’s shoulder. I look back at my friends who sorrowfully shake their heads at me. They know what I’m doing. I’m setting up a Crucifixion.
            I reach out my hand: “Frank. Frank Harris.”
            He shakes my hand: “Oh, hey, I’m C,” (“Of course you are, asshole,” I say in my head).
            I continue. “So, what do you do?”
            “I’m an actor.”
            “Oh you should meet a friend of mine. He makes really strange films.” And right then comes out my own card. The one that says Matthew D’Abate on it.  I hand it over to him. He studies it.
            “This guy is cool?” C. asks.
            I grin. “Eh, he’s kind of an asshole. But he’s cool. Don’t lose the card. You should reach out to him. You guys should work together.”
            I’ve now lost all logic. I’m torturing myself about The Raven-Haired Beauty. I’m listening to C. rave on about her, making out with someone else. I’m pretending to be Frank Harris just long enough to hand C. the card that has my name on it. I secretly wanted the card to travel back to his room and be placed on his desk. I wanted the next time The Raven-Haired Beauty was in his bedroom to somehow come across it, like some kind of artifact of ME. Just so she’d know that no matter what, I could still make my presence known even when I wasn’t around.
            Ain’t love grand? Ugh. So embarrassing. 
            Now all this was some time ago, but the Frank Harris story remains one my friends bring up from time to time when they want to make fun of how crazy I am. And that’s why I’m sharing this little story with y’all. To try and lighten the mood. Last week was pretty tough, for the country, for all of us. But Frank Harris is out there, sipping on his 29th Bud, just finishing work with paint speckled hands. Drinking for us all.
            Funny enough, I chatted with The Raven-Haired Beauty recently and told her the story. Her eyes widened.
            “Oh my God, Matthew. I DID find your card. I just thought I smoked way too much weed and left it over his place. I don’t know whether to be flattered or be scared of you. Frank Harris. I love you, Matthew, you crazy son of a bitch.”
            I love you too, Raven-Haired Beauty. And so does Frank Harris.
            Keep your heads up, dear readers. Till next week. 





Sunday, April 7, 2013


So there he was. 
Right when I walk into shift. 
I know there’s going to be trouble. 
Over the years I have learned to identify if this average person in a suit and tie (not crazy rich, not a baller suit, more of the Death of A Salesman variety) is going to morph from interested and energetic stranger to raging, wall-staring, breaking phone on the floor, spilling pints crazy man by 4 pm after the one shot and a beer I serve him after I clock in.
It’s just plain unfair. The Creeper. 
We’ve talked about this guy before. He’s there already at the bar before you. He moves over to talk to you fast. (Note—it’s okay to want to talk to people at a bar. The bar is a meeting place. It’s fine to want to converse with your fellow human beings. But, and this is a large but, there is a casual decorum that exists in the timing of how the approach is done. If someone is immediately happy to see you and you don’t know them, I can assure you after 5 drinks they will shape shift into a Creeper).
  Back to our Guy: He seems to be listening, nodding his big head, asking questions. You feel like they are interested. It starts with an unsolicited barrage of questions; ‘where you from’ to ‘what sort of music do you like’, these sort of mundane inquiries that instantly make you feel like you’re on a shitty first date.
You didn’t want this. You weren’t on JDate, prowling the shared pics and Instagramed photos, searching for that special partner. 
Then, right when you almost finish the answer, they interrupt you and begin to speak their opinions, cementing the fact that they merely are asking questions waiting for their time to talk.  They begin to talk about their jobs—something that involves travel (why you haven’t seen them around). Usually they claim to own a bar somewhere. You can smell that they probably have abundance of amorally earned cash.  
 As a once professional day drinker, there’s absolutely no doubt that you can meet all manner of fun, strange, introverted, animated artist types while drinking in the day time round Williamsburg, Brooklyn. 
But we (our little day-drinking Algonquin Table) are always invaded by one or many Creepers, and on the receiving end of a bunch of false friendliness, annoying personal questions, and leering Ted Bundy stares.
How does one deal with a Creeper, if you should so feel accosted by these wayward and endless irritating barflies?
The rules are simple.


This is the easiest and most effective way of dealing with a Creeper. Like Zombies with a bullet to the head or a vampire with a stake through the heart, Creepers exist solely on human attention, their weakness is when you take it away from them. If you find yourself, looking up from your Vodka Soda and smell the meat breath of questions just over your left shoulder, do not engage. Simply take a sip from your drink, pull out your phone out of your pocket, and use that thing as God intended: To block out the actual world. The Creeper will be persistent, but whatever you do, do not meet eyes. Just like walking down Flushing Boulevard, any eye contact will signify an aggressive stance and only invite danger.
One of my favorite techniques in dealing with a Creeper is to pretend I can’t hear what they are saying, like they are speaking a foreign language.
Lean toward them and say: “I’m sorry what?”
[Creeper repeats himself]
Look more confused, furrow your brow, and crinkle your nose like you smell shit.
“What’s that? Yeah…I don’t know,” you say.
This will immediately infuriate a Creeper, since all they really want to be is heard; you are castrating the poor animal before he can strike.

DISAGREE INSTANTLY (about anything)

Creeper comes up:
“Deerhunter! Deerhunter…I love that band…I saw them play Williamsburg Music Hall. They were fuck-ing a-maz-ing!”
You say, straight faced: “They suck, man. Nothing but a bunch of art-school poseurs.”
Watch how quickly frustrated the Creeper will become. Again, because not only do Creepers want to be heard, they want to commiserate with someone. So that makes them not only sad, but also lonely creatures.
“You don’t like them?” Creeper says, genuinely surprised, pounding his 5th micro-brew (Bud drinkers are usually over-worked simple types with minor pill or cocaine addictions and prefer to be left alone I find).
Creeper goes in again with his beak.
“Okay, but they’re nothing like TV On The Radio. I’m mean, no one can say anything bad about them!”
Throw out a: “I don’t like bands with instruments.”
Keep arbitrarily disagreeing with The Creeper and you will find he will shrink away and find easier prey a couple bar stools down.


              I only recommend this technique if the Creeper situation has grown dire. No one should ever feel the wrath of public humiliation. It’s like being whipped with your pants in the town square. But if there is no other choice then it’s time to bring out the big guns.
Let me paint a picture of a true-life story from the Bartender annuls of the perfect use of public disgrace to defend against a persistent Creeper.
Daytime. 3pm. My happy hour shift begins. And here he is. Pink faced, tall, nondescript suit. Long coat, Brook Brothers, obviously a douche bag. First thing I hear him say, much to my chagrin:
“Oh my God! Williamsburg is so dead.”
I casually move near him. “Another beer?”
            He looks at the empty foam in his pint glass. “Yeah sure, just one more.” (Note: They always say this ‘just one more’ thing. It fools no one. If someone says this, expect another 8 pints drank after).
            “So you live around here?” I ask, nudging my way back to his slight upon my hood.
            He takes a gulp and heaves out a loud, manly growl. “Nope. I mean I used to. I live, well, you know, I travel a lot.”
            I say an internal “Figured motherfucker” and move back away.
Now the bar is empty except for two dudes on one side and two young ladies whispering to each other. The Creeper had already tried to engage the two girls half his age with a “so where do you guys hang in the hood?” and was quickly excused with definitive looks of disgust from the girls.
He heads over to the other end, puts his elbows on the bar, stares at the wood. Tom Petty comes on the speaker.
“Yeah, all right!” he exclaims at an awkward decibel. Everyone, including me, turns down the bar. He’s shuffling back and forth, dancing (or trying to) offbeat.
We ignore him. I hear the two dudes talking about their town:
Dude 1: “Yeah, man, fucking Baltimore is the shit. I love it there.”
And like some weird preternatural creature, The Creeper perks up, and yells all the way across the room:
“What you know about Baltimore?” He has this eerie smile across his plump face.    
The two dudes stare back down cold.
Dude 2: “What?”
Creeper: “Nah man, I was just saying. Baltimore man, what a…”
Dude 1: “What the fuck are you yelling about?”
Creeper instantly feels invited, rushing over at an awkward speed for a middle age man in a bar at 3:34pm.  
Creeper: “Yeah man, I just love that spot man, it’s fucking like, what kinds of words would you describe, you personally, how would you, like in three adjectives, that town man?” He’s nodding like a retriever on a sunny patio.
Dude 2: “What the fuck?” he asks, looking over at me stunned. I shrug.    
Dude 1: “Look man, we were just having a quick…”
Creeper: “You know, right on. I mean what three words would you use to describe here, you know, the Big City, how would you…”
Dude 2: Girls, do you know what the fuck this guy is saying?
The two girls shake their head. One says: “I didn’t know an hour ago when he tried talking the first time.”
Dude 2: “See that, man, we don’t know what you are saying.”
The Creeper, completely unphased, comes up behind Dude 2 and tries to give him a shoulder rub: “Sorry man, I didn’t mean to…”
Dude 2: “Get your fucking hands off me, man. I don’t like dudes touching me. You know what he’s saying?” he says to me.
“I just serve the drinks,” I say.
But the spell was broken. The Creeper was vanquished. He moved quick back to his other place, to have 8 more pints, drop his phone repeatedly on the floor, mutter to himself staring at a blank wall, and sign for his check in some unintelligible language.
Let me say: Talking to people is not a crime. But if you are honest with yourself, anyone can spot that irrepressible Creeper talking nonsense to you and standing way to close by American standards, smelling of some fishy micro-brew aftertaste.
Keep day drinking safe for all. Defeat a Creeper today.

Till next week (and I mean it this time).