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.
AVOID EYE CONTACT
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).
THE CREEPER. HE'S REALLY EXCITED TO MEET YOU.
THE ONLY METHOD OF DEFENSE!
YOU AND ONLY YOU CAN STAND GUARD AGAINST INVADED DAY-DRINKING!