This is Nicole (actual lovely visage concealed to protect the
not innocent). She’s from that place across the Hudson whose very existence as inhabited, I frequently deny. You know… the land wafting of an oh-so-lovely sulfur-dioxide (rotten eggs) aroma border to border, a dead-end destination bustling on one end with soul-sucking casinos, and a place overrun with millions of Aqua Net encrusted, Bouffant loving, lobster-skinned reality show addicts – seemingly all ex-pats from Brooklyn. Some folks refer to this wasteland as New Jersey. I call it I-95 – a place whose sole useful purposes are to fill up on cheap gas and and maybe an Arby’s gourmet roast beef delicacy on my way to destinations South. I jest (not). Anyway, a couple of weeks ago, it was Nicky’s 24th birthday. Lucky for me, she, and two of her equally attractive girlfriends, chose my bar as their afternoon celebration destination. There’s only one problem – not a single bartender actually cares that it’s your birthday unless you’re a Nicky…
Nicky and her gaggle of cuties sat at the end of my bar on a Sunday – a perfectly lovely September afternoon. She wasted no time flashing her pearly whites, and subtly/sexily maquillage’d Maybelline smile. She flopped and ran her fingers through her perfect-for-Pantene-commercial mane, occasionally allowing a not so random swath of bangs to drape down and mysteriously conceal just one perfectly big, brown, Italian, peeper. Few things on this planet give me a rise quicker than a purty brunette, with perfect flowy hair, halfway hiding behind it. I can’t really explain it. It’s Salma thing I think. I couldn’t help but add a chapter to my Hot Chick Photographic Memory Book. Nicky was sporting a tight black jumpsuit, a spaghetti-string grey blouse, and golden strappy-thing flats, none of which did anything to conceal her perfectly petite, sexy, Godly curves. I’ve got to get out of this business… I’m married (but not dead).
This all happened in a nanosecond but to me, the effect was Hollywood Slow-mo. In her best dead-ass sexy bitch mode, Nicky says:
“It’s my birthday!”
Now I get this a lot, believe it or not. But rarely do I care (internally). I usually replay with the obligatory “Oh it is huh? Well, happy birthday! What can I get for you?” Which is exactly what I did save for the glaringly obvious attraction and matching flirtatious stance and tone.
Nicky and crew got their highballs and shots in short order. We spend a lovely afternoon together engaging in random banter and “celebrating” her anniversary. It was a fairly slow shift. What differentiates this birthday from the numerous others is that Nicky couldn’t help but wave and boldly announce to every single passerby that it was her birthday – for hours.
Normally, I’d grow extremely annoyed but this behavior after just a minute or two, and possibly ask the guest to tone it down a bit or stop harassing folks entirely. Few things are worse than a guest who aggravates other guests. But in this case, it was strangers walking down the sidewalk that she was engaging. Combined with the fact that (a) I had little other business at the time (b) she was buying drinks and tipping and most importantly (c) she was someone I could see myself hanging out
getting nekked with, I surprisingly let it go.
Here’s the rub folks: Bartenders despise folks who announce “it’s my birthday.” Worse, are those who request, or even expect, “special birthday shots” or feel they’re entitled to free shit. They are not – ever. It’s one thing to be respectful, engaging and ask the bartender what his/her or the house’s specialty might be. If you casually sneak in to conversation with your buddy, allowing the bartender to “accidentally” overhear, that it’s your special day, that’s all well and good. Restrained flirting, being respectful of bartenders’ job responsibilities, and tipping generously are the best routes to getting hooked up. It’s quite different reaction when you put your Entitlement Syndrome on full display. It won’t get you anywhere but on the bartender’s Shit List. I promise you.
Here’s some extremely valuable advice from a career bartender who’s seen and heard basically everything humans are capable of in retail… Never patronize a bar expecting anything free whatsoever. Not if it’s your birthday. Not if it’s a Friends & Family soft opening. Not if you’re sleeping with the owner. Not if you’re roommate is the bartender. Not if you’re a former employee. Always assume you’re going to pay and always ask for the check. Few other actions will paint you as Mother Teresa, and earn you VIP privilege (as well as free drinks), faster than presenting yourself as a trouble-free guest with whom there is zero chance of (a) walking out on a tab (b) disorderly conduct or (c) not tipping generously.
Conversely, if you’re a Nicole type, all bets are probably off…