The Authentic Lunatic brought in enough money to finish any leftover construction we needed to do, the cost of supplies, and at least the first pay period for one bartender. If for some reason our bar made no profit, we could at least pay the help before we laid them off. Now, all I had to do was hire one.
I had absolutely no idea as to how one went about hiring a bartender. Given that I was only fifteen, I’d never had a job other than babysitting the neighbors. I decided that it might be a good idea to consult someone with experience. I trotted down to Bill’s Bar and Grill to see if Bill was in.
It was the middle of the afternoon—not quite Happy Hour, and not very busy. I got a few strange stares from the bar as I sat down, but I did my best to ignore them.
Bill was behind the bar, where I expected him to be. He saw me right away and came over.
“The usual.” He set a Diet Pepsi down in front of me. I took a big swig and then nearly choked on it.
“Whoa! There caffeine in this?” I asked, a little taken aback.
“Yeah. I’m out of the other stuff. Sorry about that. Too strong?”
“No, no. I can handle it.”
He tried to suppress a mild laugh. I knew he was making fun of me. I was used to it by now. I had come to realize that most people would not see my little business venture as a step up. Oh well. I was here for a reason and I had work to do.
“So, what brings you in? Lookin’ for the judge?”
“No. I need a bartender.” Bill looked shocked.
“Oh, ya heard me. I need a bartender. How am I gonna have a bar without a bartender? I can’t do what you do. I don’t know the first thing about tending bar. I need to hire someone. I thought maybe you might have a few ideas as to how someone like me might go about accomplishing that task.”
Bill was staring at me in wonderment. I don’t think he expected what I had just said.
“Wait a sec,” he said, getting his bearings. “What about your liquor license?”
“Oh, we got that a while ago.” I was lying, but he didn’t need to know that. “I’ve got it all—a bar, storage room, liquor, well, the money to buy it anyway, tables—no chairs yet, but we’re working on it. I just don’t have a bartender.”
Bill frowned, shook his head and pulled a shot glass and a bottle out from under the bar. He poured himself a drink and downed it.
“Ya know, I have had some strange people in here in my lifetime, but you have got to be the strangest yet.”
I frowned. Was that supposed to be an insult? If I wanted to be insulted I’d go back and discuss art with the Reverend.
“Look, Bill, you and I are obviously not on the same level. I have no knowledge of bartending, and you have no tact.” He looked surprised at my statement. I took no notice and went on. “Whether or not you have any interest in tact, I don’t know and I don’t care. I do, however have an interest in bartending and I would appreciate your assistance. Now, do you have any suggestions as to how I might come by a bartender?” I sipped my Diet Pepsi as I waited for him to answer. He took a deep breath and let it out through his nose.
“Well, you might try advertising.”
“Yes, but how? Where would you suggest I advertise? I can’t just have any old bartender. I need someone interesting, someone exciting, someone who is not boring.”
“What do you mean? It’s just a bartender!” I gasped in horror.
“Just a bartender? Bill, I wonder how you’ve stayed in business with an attitude like that.” I paid for my Diet Pepsi and walked out. I was completely aghast. Just a bartender! I would have thought that someone in the business would have understood. The bartender is the second most important piece, second only to the liquor he serves! One can have a bar without a building, stools, even glassware. But without a bartender, there is nothing.
I took the long walk home and thought about what I might have a “bartender attracting” advertisement read. I thought out loud.
“What’s a good eye-catching headline? Desperate? No, Urgent! No, not for a job. Wanted sounds too much like we’re looking for a criminal. Needed—boring. Ready to hire! Uhg! Ah! How about “Expertise Required”! That just might work. It specifies that we have to have someone who knows what they’re doing—and well, they do, because if all then can do is pour drinks, they might be pretty boring. But if they’re an expert in bartending then they might have valuable experience which would keep us abreast of other, less unborified bars.” I stopped walking, surprised at myself. Had I just used the word “unborified” out loud? What was happening to me? Desperation! I continued on.
“Ok, now for the job title. Bartender—it’s so ordinary. Drink pourer? Too descriptive and not complete. Entertainer. No, too misleading. They might think we want them to sing and dance—which wouldn’t be so bad unless they were terrible, which I’d want to know upfront. Better to leave that aspect out. Alcohol specialist—hmmm. Maybe. Re-cap: ‘Expertise Required! Alcohol Specialist—‘ Then what? ‘Alcohol Specialist needed to aid in the introduction of a new establishment.’ Not bad. ‘Previous experience as a bartender is essential. Must be interesting and exciting.’” I stopped walking again. I reviewed in my head what I had just put together. Well, it would do. As the evening wore on, I could think of nothing better. I decided that if it didn’t work I’d try something else. This would have to do for now.
The next day, Crazy Angie and I made up a few flyers and posted them throughout the Central West End and a few places in the city as well. We could do nothing now but wait.
I wondered how long I’d have to wait for any kind of response. A few days went by with nothing. Just when I was starting to give up hope, the tallest man I’d ever seen walked into the bar.