This is how utterly shitfaced our bartender is: He's considerably more drunk than I am, and I'm in 1:30-a.m., slumped-over-the-bar, double-fisting-PBRs kind of shape. But I'm happy, and so is he. I can tell from the way he grins and laughs every time he over-pours one of Darren's whiskey and sodas, or leans too far into the ice tub, or can't find the right tab on the bar counter and just gives up. His defining moment of drunkenness, though, comes in the waning moments of last call, when some guy leaning too far over my shoulder petulantly demands two Busch Light draughts and a rum and coke. As the drunktender wobbles off to over-pour the drink and eventually forget the rest of the order, this guy makes every passive-aggressive frustration gesture in the asshole handbook before loudly complaining to his friends about how stiff his drink is about to be. "I guess I thought that was a good thing," I mutter, more toward his still-intrusive shoulder than his face. "Yeah, well, I don't still have your nineteen-year-old liver, pal," he sneers back. I'm about to let my junior-high Napoleon complex kick in and show this clown where he can put his condescension (and poor age judgment) when I remember that standing might be tricky and I don't know how to fight. But then the bartender's back, and this is where he really shines. "How much?" snarls the guy who I almost invited to give me a black eye. "Nine bucks," I jump in, saving my blotto bartender friend from having to do any life-threatening calculations. "Okay, sure -- nine bucks," he says. Then, once the douche squad is gone, the bartender looks at me with a shrug and says, "I think it was supposed to be more like twelve, but oh, well."
Two hours ago, Maggie and I arrived at William's Tavern (423 East 17th Avenue) with every intention of leaving. The plan -- as it is every time we start our night here -- was to wait for all of our friends to coalesce, have a quick drink and then continue on an informal 17th Avenue bar crawl. But each time we've tried (and this marked our fourth attempt), we've ended up closing the place down, and tonight is no exception. It's pretty much become a running joke among my best drinking buddies, to the point that, earlier in the night, Cole made me promise to actually leave this time. And even though I promised and really did want to follow through, I simply couldn't.
I have theories about why this happens, but no strong convictions. Bar games — including darts (my true bar love) and Silver Strike Bowling -- play an important role, as does the jukebox (when the staff hasn't pre-loaded ninety minutes of metal). But it's not like the drinks are all that cheap ($2.50 for a PBR can, $5 for most mixed drinks) or the clientele always amicable, as Captain Condescension proves. Maybe it's that I'm a sucker for tall buildings, and I can ogle the giant cash register while smoking without having to go to LoDo. But I could do that from any of the bars along our hypothetical crawl. I think what it comes down to is that I just really like to drink with friends — whether it's a Sunday-morning Bloody Mary while waiting to get into Bump & Grind a few doors down, or a bladdered bloodbath of binge drinking, like it is tonight — and don't need an ever-changing environment to have a good time.
Still, a blacked-out bartender never hurts.
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