Tales From the Gay Bar – ”The Garbage Stew” or ”The Penultimate Game Of One-Up-Manship”

Posted: August 22, 2013 in TFTGB
Tags: , , , , ,

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.”

  1. lizardomd says:

    I love your blog, and I am a follow. Tonight, Ill be posting an small article on gays, Russia, and the Olympics. I would love for you to pass by and critic it. Please keep writing. Let your voice be heard!


  2. ivansblogworld says:

    Love your blog. It’s brilliant. Following it now, cannot believe I never saw it before. Ivan


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