Archive for August, 2013

It seems there was interest in how the sports bar lost it’s liquor license. Well all righty, gather ‘round kids, as I tell the tale of the White Riot or Officer Badass. Ahem

One quiet night, only a few months after the events that took place in “Blow Me a Kiss”, I was locking up the bar. It was a weekday so we closed early and I was on my own. I stepped into the dark street to lock the front door. It had only just stopped raining five minutes before. What the weather forecast had called “a brief afternoon shower” had morphed in to a three hour rinse cycle. Proving that, just like everyone else, the weather doesn’t give a hoot about what the weather forecast says. The stars were only just breaking through the cloud cover and the moonlight hit the still damp street which answered her call with the glint in the remaining puddles.

Poetry aside, I was standing on the front step fumbling with my keys when I heard shouting from down the street. I spun around and what I saw made me rip open the front door, jump inside and lock it behind me. It was all in one fluid movement, a very graceful movement, much too graceful for someone as physically awkward as me. So to make up for it I immediately stumbled and fell on my ass.

What did I see that brought on such an aggressive (and graceful) reaction? I saw two groups of about 20 people each lined up on the sidewalks on either side of the street. They were sizing each other up like cats about to fight for control of the dumpster behind the seafood restaurant. Shirts were being pulled over heads and carelessly discarded, knuckles were being cracked as loud as possible, taunts were being thrown (mostly the faggot, pussy or yo’ mama kind) and I even saw a girl take off her earrings and heels and put her hair in a ponytail. In three words, what I saw was: It was on!

Safe inside the gay bar, I got up from the floor and went to the window to see the show. As I stared down the street, a guy from the Soviet side, bald, bare-chested and with tribal tattoos running up his left arm and shoulder, stepped into the DMZ that was the road. He threw up his arms in a “come at me” gesture and roared at the Americans. He slowly spun in place so as to show that he had no fear of turning his back to the enemy. The moment he completed his 360° revolution, something happened. The cold war turned unbearably hot.

The warring factions spilled into the road. Like two tidal waves they seemed to flow and extinguish everything in their path until they crashed in the middle. The white foam washing over the dividing line running down the centre of the asphalt. It became the line of scrimmage in a hardcore game of American football (Just football for the high fructose corn syrup lovers, pussy-rugby for the Brits and the Aussies.)

Punches flew, pairs of fighters grappled on the ground or circled each other while jabbing, ducking and parrying. It was a mess of bodies and the noise seemed too loud to fit this otherwise quiet street on a weekday night.

The sound of the scrimmage bounced off of the buildings on either side and rose into the cool air above the sweaty bodies. There it hung like a cloud far too low for it’s own good. Like a middleclass kid that’s lost his friends on a night out and is desperately looking for a familiar face in the wrong neighborhood. It grew in volume and slowly spread out until it seemed to form a barrier around the whirling warriors. A barrier so it dense nothing could penetrate it. That is until the sirens started wailing.

An armada of cop cars came sailing through the street from both sides, sealing in the Gauls and the Romans. Officers jumped out to round up the runners and end the remaining fights. After about two minutes of chaos only two fighters remained. They refused to cease and completely ignored the cops. It seemed the cops didn’t know how to tackle the situation, but then one guy stepped in.

A 2 meter tall (6 feet, 7 inches for the inventors of freedom, or 6,6 kanejaku for the Japanese) bald guy wearing a bulletproof vest and a “don’t fuck with me” expression stepped in between Ali and Frazier and grabbed them by their collars like two naughty schoolboys. It was glorious!

The police drove off with their captives and the battle of the sports bar was over, no clear winner. The gay bar did however get a clear victory, the sports bar lost their liquor license and the amount of trouble we saw shrank to hardly any overnight.

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Last week we traveled to 2009, this week we shall move on to 2010. It was three whole years ago, yet this instance stands as clear in my mind as if it happened only yesterday. It was a Friday night in the early autumn. The leaves hadn’t quite turned brown yet, but they had adopted that sickly yellow color and all Danes who knew what was best for themselves, were mentally preparing for the winter ahead. I was enjoying a night out with some assorted friends, one of them was my roommate Neil.

Back then we used to hit the gay bar before moving on to our favorite place in town, Master Bar. There were two reasons for going to the gay bar first; mainly because I got an employee discount, but also because Master Bar has two sets of clientele. The afternoon set is a bunch of alcoholics getting their daily dose and pool sharks hustling university freshmen. In the evenings it’s a much friendlier crew; a nice mix of students and working folk, mostly in their early or mid-twenties. So going to the gay bar first meant we could start the night off at a decent time and avoid the afternoon riff raff.

So it’s around midnight (why is midnight such a pivotal time? Things always happen around midnight for me) and we’re sitting at the window table in the gay bar. We’re talking of heading up in town to Master’s after draining this beer, when three guys come running up to the window from down the street. They are clearly agitated and in a fighting mood.

Where did they come from? Well, at that time, just down the street was another bar. A sports bar. I’m sure somewhere out there is a gay bar and a sports bar on the same street happily and peacefully coexisting, but this wasn’t the case here. It’s not merely that it was a sports bar, but more the fact that it was the local hooligan hangout. Oh and also that it was a bit of a drug den. It was well known that you could order drugs at the bar and they would be served along with whatever you were drinking. The local constabulary (police for the American dreamers, fucking pansersvin for the Danish autonome) was regularly found at the scene breaking up fights, taking complaints from the neighbors or doing “random” drug searches.

Side note: If we had minor trouble and the police claimed to be too busy to come by, we would call them up again and give the sports bar’s address. No more than two minutes later we would have three squad cars blocking off the street. Fixed!

As you can imagine, the types of people that frequented this place were not exactly the kind you brought home to meet the fam. Fighting was a hobby akin to philately to them and that most certainly included messing with the gays next door. We had quite a bit of trouble from their guests and we were in no way sad when their liquor license got pulled. Yes there’s a story to that as well.

Back to our friends in the street.

The three bozos outside the window on this, otherwise peaceful, Friday night wore sneakers, jeans and jerseys from the local football team. (Soccer for the BOOOOOOORN IN THE U.S.A.ians, Fussball für die wurst menschen.) Safe to say they were most likely from the lovely place down the street. They looked like they had just run away from a fight. Not a good time to provoke anyone, let alone guys that consider bashing some fags the height of a night on the town. Neil was pretty drunk and he, like most of us, doesn’t think things through when the drink kicks in.

The three guys in the street were catching their breath, one of them glanced in at us and Neil did the most beautiful, the stupidest, the greatest, the most provoking thing he could ever do.

He blows this irate hooligan a kiss.

Hooligan’s jaw drops, he stares at Neil for a second. Jaw on ground, eyes wide. And then he freaks the fuck out! He throws a punch at the (reinforced) window. The whole bar freezes as the loud BONG of fist hitting glass rings through the room. Hooligan winces in pain and almost falls on his ass. His mates are coming round to what is happening as he gestures and shouts in Neil’s direction.

One of the bartenders is quick as a flash. He pretty much vaults over the bar and locks the door from the inside only a second before the handle turns and fists start pounding the wood. Everyone in the bar is dead quiet. Everyone except Neil and I. We are laughing our asses off like two demented hyenas.

The bartenders and other guests do not find it amusing at all. We are under siege and I swear I nearly peed my pants from laughing so hard. The police have to be called to calm down the Ostrogothics and the guests had to be let out through the backdoor (no homo). The next time Neil came by the bar he was not welcomed with open arms, but he claims it was way more than worth it.

Allow me to tell you the Tale of my very first problem with a customer on drugs and how I benefitted. Are you sitting comfortably? Good! Then we can begin.

First we must travel a long way, not geographically mind you, but chronologically. We must allow ourselves to remember the summer of 2009. Let’s first see if we can build a sense of being there:

MJ died
Swine Flu
Kanye west says “Yo Taylor!”
Pink sang Funhouse

Do you feel 2009 come flooding back?

I don’t know what you guys were doing back then, but I had been working at the bar for 9 months (the length of a standard human pregnancy for the mommies or half the length of the average gestation period for the black rhinoceros for the zoologists). In about a month I would get promoted to shift manager. This was much faster than usual, and would cause some trouble among my colleagues. Why is this relevant? you may ask. Well, oh impatient one, it is important because what is about to unfold before your inner eye was the main reason I was promoted ahead of time.

Where were we? Oh yeah. We had just landed smack bang in the middle of summer 2009. Summer is a tricky time in a bar. It can be insanely busy or almost dead. Especially in a town like this that is not loaded with tourists. The regulars are away and we’re not really on the main street so you’d have to walk a little out of the way to randomly stumble upon us.

One fateful Wednesday night there had hardly been any guests and when the clock struck midnight we decided to close early. Think about it you guys. A bar closing early! That’s a sad night.

Five past midnight a guy walks in. Typical rich kid. You could practically smell the private school on him. Popped collar on his Fred Perry shirt, spiked up hair with so much gel that you could have done an Ajax impression on it (The Iliad you guys, look it up), completely new Sperry top-siders and a fancy watch, which just looked wrong on the skinny wrist of an 18 year old kid.

He’s the only guest and he goes straight for the bar while loudly proclaiming “Well this place is dead!” Yeah thanks bud, hadn’t noticed. Cough Douche cough. The only people in the entire bar are me, my shift manager Lance and Rich McDouche and he won’t even order anything. He just goes “Nah I’m good.” We can’t close as long as he’s there, such is our plight. So Lance busies himself in the back, and I stand behind the bar practicing the Greek alphabet in my head.

Rich McDouche decides he’s going to try and chat me up. “Okay” I think “he obviously doesn’t know this is a gay bar. It’s cool I’ll just tell him I steer the punt from the Cambridge end (bat for the other team for the allegiance pledgers, lidt til en side for the MIGHTY DANES! ahem) and he’ll come off it.

He didn’t. If anything it only made him more persistent. He tried lame pickup-line upon lame pickup-line and I could hear Lance cracking up in the backroom.

A little about Lance you say? Sure thing! Lance is the same age as me and has been at the bar a year longer than I have. He’s a fun guy, always up for causing a bit of havoc and he always has a vulgar joke ready for when he feels things get to serious. Lance is not a great bartender, but as a service worker and a shift manager he is amazing. He could hold a pleasant conversation with a mime, and he always puts the bartenders’ safety and happiness first. We’re lucky to have him at the bar, and I was especially lucky he was there on this particular night.

Anyways, after about ten minutes of Rich McDouche trying to pull, and failing miserably at it, he seems to undergo a sudden change. Whatever substance he had dropped, it decided to kick in right now. Electrical impulses fired through his brain, he licked his lips incessantly, and his gestures became more aggressive and seemed somehow stiff, his pupils dilated until his eyes were almost completely black. Just two black pools in his pale, sweaty face. So black I could see myself in them if he’d only sit still long enough.

His tactic changed along with his physical behavior. A moment ago he had been throwing compliments after me like they were beads at a Mardi Gras parade, now he was just being plain old mean. Calling me all sorts of nasty things, leaning over the bar to get in my face, and getting ever more aggressive. Lance reappeared from the backroom to see what the trouble was. He basically told Rich, that if he had a problem he was more than welcome to leave.

That sent Rich McDouche over the edge.

He jumped up on a barstool and went to clamber over the bar top. Luckily Lance was quick and set his palm against Rich’s face and just pushed back. He fell to the floor. Meanwhile, I was jamming the panic button so hard a little spring came flying out going “WHEEEEEE”, and Lance was yelling at Rich to “LEAVE NOW AND NEVER COME BACK!”

McDouche had other plans though. He started running around the bar and throwing anything he came near. He was yelling and screaming. In the beginning they were words, but quickly they just became sounds he was bellowing. Sometimes at us, sometimes at the inventory and at times simply at thin air. We could not get in contact with him at all.

We could wait for the police to arrive and let them handle it, but he was really fucking the place up bad. So instead of standing behind the bar, staring in terror, I decided to try something completely absurd.

I yelled out “LOOK AT THIS!” and I yanked my shirt up over my head

It got real quiet, real fast.

When I pulled my shirt back down and regained my view of the barroom Rich was standing, in the middle of a pile of tables, mouth agape, sweat stains on his shirt, a chair raised over his spike-haired head, and just staring at me. Lance’s mouth kept opening and closing like a trout on dry land.

CLANG

The chair dropped to the floor. Rich McDouche made a run for it.

Moments later the police pulled up and we quickly explained what had happened, and in which direction Rich had run. They sent a patrol after him which returned ten minutes later with a drenched McDouche. Apparently he had tried to escape by jumping in the river, but this being the middle of summer the currents were not especially strong so the two officers simply split up, one patrolling each bank, and waited for him to get cold and come ashore.

Rich was charged with destruction of property, disorderly conduct, and possession of class A narcotics. We never saw Rich McDouche again.

The evening wasn’t quite over yet though. After closing up, Lance did the responsible thing and sat me down to talk about what had happened and make sure I was okay. I was completely unfocussed throughout this conversation. I had spotted a couple of rubber swords that one of the bartenders who was in to live action role play had forgotten in the backroom.

Let the record show that we very quickly went from “let’s talk about our feelings” to “how about we instead use our adrenaline on a sword-fight around the entire bar?”. There was jumping over over-turned tables, balancing on armrests of sofas, ducking behind beer crates, taunts, spins, parries, lunges and a dive roll that nearly caused a trip to the ER. All the essentials of a truly epic sword-fight!

Running around the bar, fighting with rubber swords and just getting all that pent up crap out, is, to this day, one of my most treasured memories from working at the gay bar.

Oh and the promotion to shift manager that came a month later? Lance told the guy who used to be manager at the time how I handled the stress off the situation and how I flashed an 18 year old rich kid just to stop him from trashing the bar.

Promotion by boob-flash, crossed off of my bucket list!

Me, I am a planner. I plan things. Preferably as early and with as much detail as possible. I don’t freak out when things don’t go as planned. I adjust. This is partly why I plan. So that when something goes wrong I don’t have to make things up at a moment’s notice. Instead I have an idea of what is possible and what might work.

Now some people say I plan too much and being prepared for any thinkable (and some unthinkable) scenarios is complete overkill. I say there is no such thing as too much when it comes to planning and all the prep work has paid of more than once. These past two weeks, I find I have, once again, been proven right.

A week before I left to go on holiday, John, who was supposed to manage the bar while I was away, called me. His mum had gotten very ill and he would need to take a leave of absence to be with her. I had to find someone else.

In my mind I was already on the flight, flirting with scantily clad women, drinking mojitos by the pool, buying groceries from withered old women with missing teeth in crowded markets, that had that very specific sweet smell that always seems to frequent picturesque towns in southern Europe on market days, but I had to snap out of it. My options for a sub were limited. Severely limited. Out of five shift managers, three were away (one of them was John, keep up you guys). The two I had left were Laura and Harry.

Laura is sweet and kind and new. She’s quiet and I promoted her to shift manager to build her confidence because, someday, when I find her inner bad-ass, she is going to make an amazing shift manager and I might even consider having her as an area manager at the parties. For now though, she remains quiet and lacking in the bad-assery department. Thus, not the optimal choice to lead the troops for three weeks while the wicked witch of the gay bar was away.

Harry bears a striking resemblance to his namesake from the British royal house. He is tall, ginger, and always seems to stir up trouble. He is also, unlike his namesake, not a big fan of mine. (Prince Harry and I go waaaay back).

Harry (the one from my bar) was a shift manager when I was hired back in 2008. He was actually the very shift manager I wrote about in the Tale of Christina and The Steak. He was very opposed to me being promoted, every time I was promoted. And he was very verbal about my shortcomings (in his opinion there were many). Not really my first pick to sub for me either.

Given the choices it unfortunately had to be Harry.

I informed him of the situation and already I could see the power getting to his head. He wasn’t paying attention at all. He was busying his mind with visions of my speedy demise and his subsequent rise to manager. I’m pretty sure he pictured himself in a toga, wearing a laurel wreath and raising his arm in a salute to his adoring subjects. Ave Harry.

While this pleasant scenario played in his mind I was desperately trying to point his attention in the direction of the very detailed list I had made. This list contained emergency phone numbers, “what do dos” in different situations and also general “what must be done on which days” schedules. Things such as “roll out the bins on Tuesday because Wednesday is trash day” or “on Sunday make sure to check there is enough beer for the following week, if not Monday is the last day to order to have it before the weekend” or “On Thursdays make sure the timer is changed on the ice machine because of earlier opening hours on the weekend”.

Simple things he ought to know after 7 years at the bar, but I made the list anyway to make sure I would not return from my holiday, to a disaster area in dire need of 50 Red Cross volunteers to sort through the rubble.

I was supposed to return to work the 29th of July 2013 (07/29/2013 for the descendants of the pilgrims or 21 Ramadan 1434 for the Muslims). Three days earlier, on Friday, my phone rang.

(Ominous music).

It was Laura, she sounded like she was about a nasty comment away from crying. “I’m so sorry to call you on your holiday, but everything here is a mess! We have no more cokes, we’ve sold completely out of our normal beer and a couple others are running low. The timer on the ice machine wasn’t changed so I have no ice, the refrigerators were turned off when I got here and I open in an hour.”

I managed to calm her down a little. I got her to call Ray and have him empty a supermarket for what stock was missing. I told her I would be there as fast as I could and to keep me posted. I had been house-sitting for my parents after I had returned from my trip so at least I wasn’t in another country. Still it did take me some hours to pack up and get back home.

Lucky for me during these hours both Ray and Laura stepped up way higher than would seem possible. We’re talking light-years! Not only had they remedied the stock situation and gotten everything up and running so the bar could run as usual, they had also found the time to keep me updated on everything they found that was out of sorts.

The messages I got resulted in me calling the brewery at 5 till closing, calling the renovation company and begging for an emergency trash pickup (only managing to get them to come because one of the guys there is a regular of ours and he did it off the books if I promised to put a couple of beers next to the trash) and calling in a favor with an old friend who is an electrician who also happened to know a good plumber. All this while receiving, at first passive aggressive, then just straight up aggressive, messages from my mum (My parents were coming home that day and had a big family dinner planned).

I didn’t go home to drop off my bags. Instead I went straight to the bar to assess the situation. It was a mess. The backroom and the office were both overrun with piles of stuff. The stockroom was completely trashed; with empty bottles overflowing their bins, and liquor bottles just left in random spots like dolls forgotten on the bus.

I was upset to say the least.

My bar. My perfectly organized little corner of the world. My oasis. Lay in ruins.

It was Sodom and Gomorrah and I was forced to turn around and look back at it. As I’m standing in the rubble formerly known as my stockroom, slowly turning to stone, Ray calls me from the office. See it turns out that the fire and brimstone of biblical proportions, that had hit and left only debris in their wake, was not enough.

As I entered the office, Ray was starring at the computer screen with a very distinct expression. An expression I have seen a few times. An expression that says two things: 1. We’re fucked. And 2. Neo’s about to have a meltdown.

No, Sodom and Gomorrah wasn’t enough. For in this expression I now heard the sirens of the London blitz wailing all around me.

Ray had discovered that Harry had not been at the bar since the day after I left (not surprising given the conditions it was in), but worse even; he had not scheduled ANYONE for the next two weeks.

Bombs were falling; Ray was running for the bomb shelter, I repeatedly stubbed my toe against the wall while screaming bloody murder. Luckily the sirens were still wailing so no one could hear the choice words that came out of my mouth, but let’s just say my mum would have been horrified.

Once I had calmed down and they had sounded the all-clear, I picked up my phone. I called that sorry excuse for a shift manager and I proceeded to tear him a new one. The moment he got a word in he didn’t even use the opportunity to come up with a terrible excuse. No, instead he called me a bitch who had no idea how to run a bar.

I was done.

I fired him on the spot. Goodbye Harry, you will not be missed!

In mid-January this year I was at the bar. It was before opening and I was busy taking everything off of the bar and the work surfaces to clean them properly. Those who have only been on the relaxing side of a bar can have no possible clue of just how sticky the working side gets. I take a lot of pride in keeping the bar clean, but even if a rag is always within grasp it is impossible to keep your bar spotless.

So every once in a while, everything gets soaped up and hosed down, all the glasses go for a ride in the dishwasher, and the booze bottles are wiped off. Some for dust, some for sticky fingerprints.

This is tedious work, I loathe cleaning, but the end result is well worth the tedium. And blasting Rammstein on the (pretty awesome) sound system helps a lot!

I had cleaned, scrubbed and polished everything to a shine and was placing the gear back in it’s assigned spots. (I get so frustrated when my bartenders don’t put things back where they belong. Sometimes I think they do it on purpose to watch me flap my hands and spin in circles because I can’t find the speed openers.)

After all the gear was in place, all that was left was to replace the rows of glasses. First the shot glasses because they’re the most annoying. Then the cocktail glasses in the fridge, then beer glasses, whiskey tumblers, pint glasses, and finally, the highball glasses. As I was setting up the highballs in neat rows, I noticed quite a few of them were discolored (they get that way because, by law, our dishwasher has to wash at 90 degrees Celsius (194 Fahrenheit for the free and the brave, 29.7 Newton for the apple enthusiasts)), and a lot where scratched, some even chipped. I stopped what I was doing and called one of the owners.

• Owen: “Hey Neo, What’s up?”
• Neomety: “Hey Owen. I think it might be time we got some new highball glasses.”
• Owen: “How many do we have left?”
• Neomety: “I dunno, ‘bout 120 I guess, but at least half of them are scratched or discolored.”
• Owen: “Is that all? They’re worn?”
• Neomety: “Yeah, but it doesn’t feel proper, serving drinks in chipped glasses.”
• Owen: “Listen Neo, I don’t care about proper. If they ain’t broken, I ain’t replacing ‘em!”
• Neomety: “But the customers…”
• Owen: “You make great drinks. The customers would drink ‘em outta pickle jars, so long as you made ‘em.”
• Neomety: “Thanks Owen, but I still think we owe them more than that.”
• Owen: “We don’t owe them shit! Now as I said, when the glasses break, I’ll buy new ones. Hell you can even pick them out yourself.”

And that was the end of that phone call.

Like I take pride in a clean bar, I also take pride in other things: Good service, high quality liquor, that my bartenders (and myself) display proper hygiene and behavior and that, when I serve a drink, it looks and tastes as good as possible with the materials I have to work with. These glasses were dropping my drinks by at least 10 points on the Neomety scale (no need for conversions, this scale is recognized internationally).

Little did I know, the annoyance over these eye sores, also known as highball glasses, were only the beginning of my night.

As I opened the bar and the guests appeared, the evening found it’s shade. Evenings come in many colors: Some are violet-grey like the clouds of an oncoming storm. Some are murky green like the river in the autumn. Some are that particular blue, which I have never seen anywhere but here in Denmark during those three amazing months of the summer, where the sun just dips below the horizon at sunset only to rise again a few hours later. When 18 straight hours of daylight turns the dusk into something quite unlike anything I could ever hope to describe in words. This blue that is so deep it holds your breath hostage, and all you can do, is just stare wide-eyed in to it, and feel so small and insignificant and like you’re the luckiest person alive because you get to witness this.

The color this particular evening chose was a far cry from that. It was orange. I can’t stand orange. It’s such an egotistical color! It’s as if it’s constantly yelling “Ooooh look at me, I’m orange! Aren’t I fun and pretty and interesting?” No orange, no you’re not! You’re the color of warning signs and carrots. Shut up! (Incidentally, I despise carrots as well).

Orange is a difficult color for an evening. It means you constantly have to be on your toes because it could very easily turn red. You can all guess, I’m sure, what a red evening is like!

The orange seeped into my consciousness and I was on edge. Constantly on the lookout for anything that might cause alarm. Around 9PM something did.

I spotted two guys entering the bathroom hand in hand. “Drugs or sex or both” my brain told me. Whichever it was not happening on my watch!

I finished the customers in line and excused myself from the bar. I went into the bathroom and there was only one closed stall. I knocked on the door and, very politely, said:

• Neomety: “Only one guest per stall gentlemen.”
• Guy#1: ”Go away!”
• Neomety: “Please come out of there.”
• Guy#2: “Oh fuck off will ya?”
• Neomety: Raising my voice “Please come out of the stall, NOW!”
• Guy#2: “FUCK OFF!”

I did, I fucked off. All the way out into the main bar room. And there I loudly proclaimed “Hey, who wants to see me kick out two guys having sex in the bathroom?” Fuck yeahs and Who is its rung out over the tables. “Come see, but be quiet.”

I turned around and walked through the bathroom door once more. Around 20 people followed me. All was silent, only the moans and grunts from the stall were heard. I relieved my pocket of a coin, and, like a surgeon with his scalpel, I performed an operation in which I am well-trained. With swift fingers and steady hands I worked for a few seconds and then: POP went the lock. The stall door swung open.

Inside were 2 half naked, panting and sweating gay guys of about 20 years of age. Their expressions quickly shifted from pleasure, to anger, to surprise and finally settled on bright, pink shame. A roar of laughter rose from the spectators as the two young boys fumbled with stuffing rapidly deflating erections into pants and zipping up flies. They fled the bar with shirts in hands, and as they ran through the crowd there were pats on the back and shouts of “Once more with feeling, boys!”

Even after this, the evening was still orange. And that meant I still had not avoided disaster. Though disaster might not be the correct term for what was about to unfold before my very eyes.

Two gentlemen, both around 35, were sitting at a nearby table. They both wore nice suits and dress shoes, indicating they had come to the bar directly from work. Suddenly their conversation turned loud:

• Suit#1: “Bullshit man!”
• Suit#2: “Nuh-uh!”
• Suit#1: “I don’t care what you say, you’re wrong!”
• Suit#2: “Oh yeah? Let’s have someone in here decide then!”
• Suit#1: “Fine, let’s do it!”

They walk to the bar and Suit#2 asks me: “Will you be our judge? This guy thinks he’s better than me!” I have no idea what I’m about to be the judge of, but years of bartending have taught me to say yes in these situations, because it usually pays, be it in tips or in laughter. I would learn, that in this case, it would be definitely not be the former. I agree to judge their impromptu competition.

And then it happens: The two men, in their mid-thirties, wearing suits, drop down and start twerking! Only at a gay bar. Come for the drinks, stay for the booty! (Which would totally be my slogan if I ran a pirate-themed bar)

After about 2 minutes of twerking like their lives depended on it, they get up and turn to me.

• Suit#1: “Well?”
• Neomety: “…..”
• Suit#2: “Come on, who was better?”
• Neomety: Tears in my eyes “BWAHAHAHAHAHA”
• Suit#1: “Well if you’re not going to give us a serious answer we’ll just go somewhere else!”

So they left. Heads held high as if this bar was beneath them. But not before screaming me out about how I was a bitch, a terrible bartender, fat, ugly and many other truths.

The evening wore on, I remained ready for any sign of trouble, but there was none to be had. I was exhausted when I locked up. Just needed to count the till and empty the dishwasher. Then it was beddy by-bye for little Neo.

That’s what I thought. But then I checked the bathroom. Some random was passed out on the floor of one of the stalls. He had made it that far, but in his rush to get there, he had left his aim behind. Vomit. Everywhere!

I chucked him out, swiftly yet violently, and then started cleaning. Now I’m used to this. Vomit is a common occurrence when you work with alcohol, so it only took me about 10 minutes to clean it up. Still, this whole evening had gotten to me. I was pissed!

I counted the till, locked up the money and went to empty the dishwasher. And what was staring me in the face? Those fucking highball glasses!

I snapped.

I grabbed my phone, called Ray and told him to come to the bar and bring his airsoft rifle. We were gonna do some target practice! Outside, in the courtyard, we lined up the glasses that were chipped, discolored or scratched 10 at a time in a pile of snow. We took turns and killed about 70 of these sons of bitches.

When I walked home that night, the evening slowly turned from orange and in to the white of the moonlight glinting in broken glass.

Aftermath: Owen was not happy! But he did still let me pick out the new glasses. Only fair since I paid for them.

Early in my tenure at the gay bar, I found a love of making up my own drinks or improving the classics to fit my own tastes. In many a bartender’s eyes this is akin to heresy, but I was young, carefree and in love with the dark arts of mixology (and you know what else? Screw those stiffs! Bartending is supposed to be fun, not all srs bsns and shit!). I made some truly wonderful drinks that have become classics at our bar, and I made some horrors which were written into “The Big Book Of No-No’s” so no one would ever attempt them again. Among these I distinctly remember a Pisang Ambon, Dark Rhum and Apple cider piece that made it impossible for me to ever drink Pisang Ambon, or even eat a banana again! But this is not the story of that drink. This is the story of something much more vile. This is the story, of “The Garbage Stew”!

In early 2009 I was tending the bar as a bartender does. I had not yet achieved any other status than just that; bartender. And I was happy just mulling along with the rest of the nation’s workforce. I had learned the basics of working the bar, had mastered the lyrics to “We Didn’t Start The Fire” (no seriously, I still know it by heart), and was getting pretty decent at making drinks.

I had made friends with a couple of the regulars; one I particularly enjoyed talking to was Al. He’d lived in Paris, Amsterdam and New York after graduating from college. He, like me, read a lot. And he was the embodiment of our nation’s peculiar humor; a heavy mix of sarcasm and putting oneself down.

One February afternoon, where the skies seemed determined to bless us with more than enough water to fill a small ocean, Al and I were discussing Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein which I had just finished the same morning. I was intrigued by how the movie versions had changed the story so significantly and why the moviemakers had felt the need to.  The door opened and in came, along with a fierce wind that made me shiver in my thin work shirt, one of my coworkers towing his “boyfriend of the month”.

Now you might think I’m over exaggerating or being mean. I’m not. My coworker, John, has a new boyfriend every 3-5 weeks. And he jokes about it himself saying “A new boyfriend every laundry day! I love messing up fresh sheets.”

So John and February walk in, February has never been here before and he looks around curiously. Both Al and I say hi to John, I extend my hand to February but he just scoffs. This is actually not uncommon among the older gays (+40) and it is because, well, wooh, here goes: It’s because, you guys, there’s something I haven’t told you, and I think it’s really important that you know this. I feel like I haven’t been completely honest with you, and I want to put that right! I.. I am a lesbian! Whoa, that felt great, saying it out loud like that, such a relief.

Okay all jokes ass-wide, it is because I am a lesbian. Some, and I stress some, older gays were used to being part of the community when it was divided. When Lesbians and gays kept to themselves, and as a result the gays were way more in the line of fire than the lesbians. So these guys tend to look down on us, because “we didn’t go through what they did”. Yeah it’s bull, but whatever puckers their assholes, right?

Anyway this rejection does not sit well with Al, but he keeps it non-verbal and just shoots February a nasty look. John is naturally embarrassed and wants to smooth out the situation, so he turns to February

John: “What would you like to drink sweety?”
February: “Anything with alcohol in it”
John: “Oookay…” Turns to me “Two Cuba Libres please”

As I make their drinks, let’s just have a look at them shall we? John is 36, tall, skinny, covered in tattoos and wears goth clothes. You can always tell when he’s walking behind you because of his giant combat boots. (I mistyped combat and it became comabat, Still better than Zubat am I right?). February looks to be about 45. He sorta looks like a potato. He is short and stubby, round around the waist, his hairline is receding and he is immensely tan, which is very noticeable in the Scandinavian winter. The fact that we do not like him because he is rude does nothing for his looks either! I hand over the Libres as they settle in at the bar. Al and I pick up our discussion about Frankenstein and all seems at peace. That is until five minutes later when February slams his glass on the bar and demands: “Can’t you do something that actually tastes of alcohol?” Okay, have it your way. I’ll make him a Lille fugl fald død om (“Little bird drop dead”, no seriously, that’s the name!) and hope it’ll shut him up.

So, once more unto the breach: Shaker, Ice, Jigger, Vodka, White Rhum, Tequila, Gin, Pisang Ambon hurk, Rose’s Lime, Knife, Lemon, Squeeze, Shake it, sha-shake it, Glass, Ice, Strain, Sprite, Straw, Serve.

“There”, I thought, “that should do the trick”. February pretty much downed the lot. He looked a bit green afterwards, but it was clear what he was doing. He was, for some unknown reason, trying to prove a point. Namely the point that, whatever I served, he could drink. Al, ever quick on the uptake, had realized this at the same time I did and now he played his hand.

Al: “Neo, make me that drink you thought up the other day.”

I had no idea what he was talking about. This was the first time I’d seen him in three weeks.

Al: “It was really good, what did you name it again”

Ah, I got it.

Neo: Looking around for inspiration, trash can on the floor “The Garbage Stew, wasn’t it? It was pretty heavy on the alcohol, you sure you want one this early in the evening?”
Al: “I can take it.”

And this was where February chimed in.

February: “I’ll have one of those. Anything he can stomach, so can I!”

Oh it was on like Donkey Kong!

I looked at my booze-shelf, looked at Al, he nodded. This was it! This crooked teethed, lesbian hating, denim jacket wearing, smartassed, hatred spewing, potato-like looking, dumbfuck excuse for a human being was going down!

I picked out the worst 5 card combination of spirits I could imagine. This was the equivalent of having a 2,3,4,5 and 7 unsuited in a poker game. I loaded them on to the work surface of the bar and I cracked my knuckles. I got to work. Shaker, Ice, Jigger, Ouzo, Fernet Branca, Peppermint Liqueur, Bailey’s, tequila, Rose’s Lime, Blue Curacao, Shake that thing Miss Annabella, Glass, Ice, Strain, Pineapple Juice, Straw, Stir, Serve!

Not only was it a sickly kind of grayish green, it had 2 centimeters of muddy brown foam on top (0.8 inches for the people with the lovely Canada-shaped hat, and 2.4 Barleycorn for the English footwear historians). Worse than that; something happens when you mix Bailey’s with Rose’s lime. It congeals. Imagine drinking a drink of that color, with the smell of a thousand gym bags and then getting a big clump of something sticky in your mouth. Nope.gif!

And Nope.gif was pretty much the expression on February’s face when he took the first sip. He looked at Al, there was no way. No frigging way Al would drink that thing. An Al just gave him a small nod. Took his glass. In a polite gesture, raised it slightly to February.

And downed the whole unholy concoction!

He then set his glass gently down on the bar. Wiped his mouth. And smiled happily at us all. Now what? The bar had turned into a town in the old west, I swear to god I saw a tumbleweed over by the magazines! February was sweating profusely, beads turning to drops and tumbling down his potato forehead. His hand trembled as he reached for his drink. Fingers so clammy they formed condensation on the glass. It was so quiet you could hear a hamster fart. All eyes were on February as he stood there, in the middle of the dusty street, hand over his gun. Would he back down?

He drew!

He drew the glass and threw it to his lips; he gulped and gulped and gulped. His eyes watered, his free hand shaking like a drunk before his first drink of the day. He was almost home free! When suddenly, he choked! His eyes went wide, his shoulders dropped, and he spun around and ran with all his might, and glass still in hand, for the bathroom.

It was an hour before he reappeared. Sickly green in the face, puke stains on his shirt, and with labored breathing, he croaked out “I’m sorry about the mess.” It was all I could do not to laugh when I cheerily replied “There’s a mop and bucket in the back.”

In late 2011 I had been running the parties for about 8 months, at the same time I managed the bar and had been doing so for about a year. I had seen some shit.

You know how your veteran buddies that have been deployed come home with empty eyes, and hands that sometimes seem to grip their no longer issued rifles before they remember where they are? Burning out, for me, was like that, only it was a walkie, not a rifle.

I had nightmares that left me shaking and paranoid for hours. Nightmares of what would happen if we had someone come in to the party and start shooting. Of people dropping from heart failure in the middle of the dancefloor. Of my close friends and coworkers being hurt by terrible accidents. Of ODs, rapes and fires. Horrifying  things!

The part that always woke me up screaming, and it was the same in every dream, was me, standing in the center of this catastrophe, a thousand nameless faces all screaming at me “NEO, WHAT DO WE DO?” And I would grab my walkie to start giving orders. But the battery would be dead.

(Jeez I’m gonna need a beer for this one. INTERMISSION. Okay, I’m back, trusty Tuborg by my side)

Some of my nightmares were based on real events I had already lived through once, some have come true since. This is the Tale of how one of my nightmares came true and how that would cure me.

It was December. The snow had been falling heavy all week and showed no sign of slowing down. The streets were crammed with busy people doing their Christmas shopping and trying their best to erase any hint of their body shape under woolen underwear, hats, scarves, earmuffs, boots, gloves, and overcoats. Really the amount of layers of clothes one can wear to keep out the cold of a Scandinavian winter is quite extraordinary!

In preparation for all the extra pressure there would be on the cloakroom at the evenings party, I was sitting at the old wooden table in the backroom of the bar, desperately calling everyone and anyone I knew. I was having about as much luck as a junkie chasing the dragon. In the end I forsook my fruitless endeavor. The two girls already on duty would just have to run fast. Sucks, but what can you do. Sucked for me too; I’d have to break the bad news.

At 18.00 we started setting up (that’s 6 PM for the English speakers and 2 and a half hours after sundown, two weeks before winter solstice for the Vikings). The setup ran smooth, too smooth. Here, in my country, we have a saying: “Generalprøven skal gå galt” (The final rehearsal must go wrong). The meaning of this is, that if, during the final rehearsal, something is amiss, there is time to fix it.

I am a big fan of things going wrong during the setup. And oh boy do things go wrong! People not showing up for their shifts, power failures, fridges on the fritz. Hell I’ve even been stuck in an elevator with five hysterical dragqueens. Two of which were having a feud at the time. I had just put my walkie on the bar downstairs, there was no cell reception, the party would start in 20 minutes and I tend to get claustrophobic. (Needless to say, this was one of my returning nightmares)

As long as these things happen during the setup, well, then there’s time to find a solution. So nothing at all going wrong gets me on my toes. Good thing too. I would need to be in that state for what was to come.

Despite the freezing temperatures; -5 degrees Celsius with a windchill factor of -20 (23 and -4 degrees Fahrenheit for our friends across the pond, 4.9 and -3 degrees Rømer for the fans of Danish astronomers). Them gays came a-flocking to our doors. As predicted, the girls in the cloakroom were trapped under a soft mountain of coats, scarves and gloves.

The evening seemed to shift into gear (hey I might be a lesbian, but I still know how to drive stick) and take off down the road to Partytown. It cruised comfortably past Jägerbomb Plaza, turned right on Make-out Avenue and passed Gaga Boulevard without any trouble. But at the intersection of Single Ladies Street and Tequila Shot Road it ran a red light.

Suddenly: Flashing blue lights came on!

Actual flashing lights, not in the metaphor, we have officially left the metaphor. We are back in the real world, back at the party. More specifically we are in the entrance where blue lights are flashing through the windows and 10 big men, dressed all in black, wearing black ski-masks and utility belts with guns, come storming through the door.

All my brain can manage is: Yippee ki-yay Motherfucker?

Let’s recap: Scary men with guns, wearing black ski-masks have entered a party filled with drunken gays and I’m standing there, walkie half-way to my mouth and I am lost for words. I am without words even, mute, it’s as if words have never existed and now is the first time in my life I need them.

My mouth might be mute, but my brain is spinning at a million cycles a second. “Extremists here to kill us all for our sins against god”, but blue lights? “Bank robbers here to hold us all hostage, blue lights are police, we are surrounded” Bank robbery at 2 in the morning? “Okay then they’re escaped convicts” In matching uniforms? “You know what, you’re not helping!”

And my words come tumbling back so fast a few spill out before I can stop them. “WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE?” I immediately clamp my hand over my mouth to stop further spills.

The last of the 10 men in black skid to a halt. He turns to me and, muffled through the mask he goes:

MIB#10: “Who’re you?”
Neomety: (Without even thinking) “I’m running this fucking party, who the fuck are you?”
MIB#10: “Security”
Neomety: “Whadda’ya mean security, what kinda security wears masks and carries guns?”
MIB#10: “Fire department”
Neomety: “What? There’s no fire! I am in charge here, we do not allow fires” (I know, who does, but remember; my mouth had only just regained the power of speech)
MIB#10: (Finally decides he might as well explain) “We’re the fire departments security unit, we handle this buildings security system. An alarm went off in a part of the building with the highest security rating. This is our standard response.”
Neomety: “Well all right, but next time you might wanna give a girl some information. You scared the shit outta me, and my guests”
MIB#10: “Sorry about that, they’re only stun guns you know”

The rest of the 10 joined their buddy. There was nothing, a false alarm. All that for a 0 in the system that should have been a 1. MIB#10 exchanged some words with one of the others and he stepped forward and apologized for the way they barged in. Apparently he was in charge. They left and the party was broken.

Broken is the only term I can think of that applies. The mood was weird. People didn’t leave because there was too much excitement to discuss. But they didn’t party either. I was mentally calculating the losses the bars would take after this incident, and whether or not we would make it up next time with all the extra guests the gossip would draw. When suddenly the blue lights were back! What now?

Well this is what, and I would not believe it if I hadn’t been there to see it myself. Through the door walked the 10 MIBs again, but this time carrying something. Their leader raised his voice and said “We’re real sorry for rushing in on you before, please accept our apology” And the MIBs put down what they were carrying: 5 cases of beer. And I, not a very huggy person, grabbed the nearest MIB and hugged like I have never hugged before.

The party was cured. I was cured. 300 gay men tried to convince the MIBs to stay for a beer, I was hugged and kissed (and fondled) by 100 lesbians and the party was one of the best I can recall. But most importantly, I was cured. My nightmares went away and they have not returned since.

So if any of you suffer from stress-related nightmares. Just go out and find yourself in the exact situation you dreamed off, 1 out of 1 people have found this solution saved their life!