The Wisdom of Bartenders

For lovers of nuance, one is always tempted by narrative that promises little more than further expectation, leaving only the slightest traces of whimsy, curiosity, reflection.

It is no wonder then that I was immediately drawn into this reverie of storytelling featured in a series of dispatches from Deborah Stoll in LA Weekly profiling the men and women who traffic in late nights and libations, those who tender the spirits from behind the bar. Who among us has not, at some time or another, wondered on the stories they could tell as the evening unfurls by the taps? It’s all a bit more wistful than you might imagine:

“This is the story of a couple of regulars. They love this bar. They come in for a couple after work, before going home, on a steady basis. They come here as a coda to their day before the rest of their night, which they will spend together, just the two of them, in each other’s arms. You serve them and get to know them, in this way, becoming a part of their intimacy, “friends” of a sort — no numbers are exchanged and you never hang out outside the confines — were you to run into each other, say, at Trader Joe’s, it would take a while for their eyes to focus and figure out where they know you from. Yours is a special kind of friendship — like a vacation romance, it exists in a bubble devoid of minutia; you will never know each other so well that you will fight. You will never tire of one another’s quirks. There is always just enough time for a funny story, a glimpse into the highjinks of your life, admiration for the outfit, and a tip.”

Our bartenders are watching us. They care. And they know when we’ve fallen out of love, or as evidenced by one of my readers, out of work.




~ by eaesthete on 06/04/09.

2 Responses to “The Wisdom of Bartenders”

  1. More than that – they seem to have their finger on the pulse of society in general…
    When I got laid off in January, I immediately walked myself over to my Financial District watering hole. Since it was about 11:15 in the morning, the bartender was mildly surprised when I ordered a vodka tonic. I said: “I just got laid off.” He said: “Wow, you’re like, the seventh person who’s told me that this week…”

    Bartender wisdom is indeed a microcosm of worldly wisdom.

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