Saturday, October 6, 2012


Waxing the lustre of morning's sunlight into the bar rail with a damp terry-cloth rag, I imperceptibly smirk in self-congratulations. I've made it through the early hours, and without incident at that. I stand back and sigh, admiring my work: I can see my own reflection in the wood and I don't find that despicable at all. It'll be another half hour before the lunch crowd comes to muck it up. This is the quiet time, the eye of the storm -- after the flurry of opening and restocking, before the rush of service.  I can afford to steal this moment and keep it to myself.

A sip of coffee. The warm brown liquid hugs me from the inside out with soothing. Okay, organize: One medium, round, orange. One-half, small, pink. One big, long, white. Two long, big, reds. I stare for a moment at this handsome handful, then say to no one, "Bottoms up." One fell swoop, they all disappear. I'm a magician.

Before I forget, I set a reminder for my next round. It will be several hours from now and consist of one medium, round, orange. One big, long, pink.
Ten. Nine. Eight. (I'm already starting to feel it. Must have forgotten breakfast.)

Seven. Six. Five.  (I love this. The swift creep.)

Four, Three, two, one... Blast off
                    and now i'm an astronaut        

 that's better.


I have a problem with the way that psychiatric medications are portrayed in media and perceived in society.
I am not a zombie.

People sometimes say I'm quiet. I have a lot of thoughts. I quess I'm breathing shallow. I'm thankful I finally stopped gasping.


- How are the meds treating you?
- Well, at first I was experiencing a certain side effect, but then it went away... I think it had been helping, actually, so I'm a little disturbed that it neutralized. I was calmer, more pleasant, better rested, I think.
- How would you describe the side effect?
- Feeling "high as fuck".
- ...
- I miss that.
- Ok.
- Can we bring that back?
- Are you drinking?
- A little.
- ...
- Some.
- ...
- Excessively.
- Alcohol is a depressant, and it will counteract the meds. If you drink, all you have left is bare, naked brain. That's why they haven't been working for you anymore.
- ...
- What you were feeling wasn't "high" -- that's close what a normalized brain might feel like. Your brain doesn't make serotonin or dopamine like it should, so you wouldn't know that.
- Huh... so you're saying it sucks to be me.
- *sigh* I'm saying that you're something like Van Gogh: a highly creative individual with manic depression and anxiety mood disorders. Back in his day, there were no psychiatric medications... What I'm saying is, if you continue to treat your imbalances with art and alcohol, you're going to cut your ear off, or worse.
- There's some true romance.
- There's nothing romantic about syphilis and insanity. 


Everyone knows Sam "Mayday" Malone's story from Cheers: He was a Red Sox relief pitcher with a drinking problem that ruined his career. He bought a friendly establishment called Cheers and made a new life for himself as a sober barkeep, ensuring a Sisyphean fate eternally reminding him of his shortfalls, masked by the hi-jinks of the wacky regulars. However, it's Diane's story that I relate to and is often over looked.

In the first episode, she is swept inside the dive by her fiancé and boss, a university professor to whom she is assistant. By the end of the episode, she has been abandoned under Sam's watch at the bar with a half consumed bottle of champagne while her lover has fled to Barbados with another woman. Her entire world shattered, she sighs and rolls over into Sam's barely professional arms and he takes the prissy, verbose, overeducated Diane on as a cocktail waitress at Cheers. This topsy-turvy, odd couple dynamic drives the early portion of the series.

My own professional track also having been derailed in a mirroring fashion, I may have been watching the series as motivational material -- a little fantastical fiction to adopt and get into character for work.

I, like Diane, don't belong in the bar. But if I imagine the laugh-track and the moral-of-the-story to take home at the end of every shift, I can trick myself to think it quirky, fun, and therefore bearable. Every day I count the sticky, wrinkled bills in my pocket, which helps greatly. Identity differentiation, cosplay, theater, anything... A few more days, a few more dollars I didn't see before. Keep it to that. No investment, no attachment.

It's not an uncommon feeling that food and beverage service industry jobs are more demeaning than sex work. But while the pay would be greater at that, there are several external factors that keep my clothes on professionally. Fangs has stated that he would have too many fires to start, for one. Next, I would have to shift professional role models from Cheers' Diane to YouTube's Jenna Marbles. Perhaps the generational gap is too broad for a sensical comparison to be drawn, but let me assure you, the slope starts at sad and descends into a valley of much worse.

Sobering up hasn't been an issue since I adjusted my meds and discovered a surprising fondness for non-alcoholic beer. I like having a clear head now. Whiskey and I are ex-lovers, parted on good terms, with the very brief and occasional stolen fling... but we don't make more of it than it is. We aren't meant to be and I know that now.

Sure, occasionally I get the urge. But I have to look at the bottle and say to it: "You, Sir, will not make me feel better."

All the same, I am a bartender. I have a craft, a trade, a nightly one act. In tribute to Fangs, Cheers, and professional ennui, here is my take on a Boston Sour -- a scotch cocktail for everybody. The egg white whips up into a frothy cold meringue and gives the drink a pleasing viscosity on the tongue. It's gotten great reviews so far at the bar, and is heading towards menu permanency. I invite you to try it out for yourself and do your best-worst fake Boston accent while you enjoy it.

2 oz. Johnny Walker Black Label
3/4 oz. honey syrup (1/2 honey, 1/2 water)
2 oz. sweet and sour
1 egg white

Shake all ingredients vigorously with ice for about 20 seconds. Strain in chilled sour glass (or wine glass). Garnish with orange slice and skewered cherry. Cheers.


  1. I uploaded this special for you.

    1. How dare you put a smile on my face, Slater. How DARE you...

  2. You are fighting the war on drugs for us woman! Be brave- be bold- society will wear you out with their sheer jargon and boorishness.