Monday, May 2, 2022

The Rise and Fall of a Dive Bar Regular

Guest Post by Brian Whitney 

Author Brian Whitney doing what he does best.

"I am what is commonly known as a binge drinker." 

I don’t ever drink at home, but I like to go out. When I go out I like to drink a ton. When I hit the town, I, like all of the other true partiers in the world, want a place to go where I know the vibe and know I am going to get my mind crushing buzz on with the least possible hassle, combined with the most possible fun.

It should also be cheap. For a boozebag, checking your wallet the next day can be a terrifying experience.

Which is why I always have a regular bar that I frequent. The last thing you want to do if you really want to get hammered is wander around aimlessly looking for a good place to drink.

I have been a regular at different bars numerous times throughout my life. In my past, I have had many failed relationships and a myriad of life crisis, and through these horrible times I have always had a regular bar to call home.

When used correctly being a regular at a bar can be a good thing. For one, it is economical. I used to hang out at a place where I became so friendly with the bartender that I drank for free and only tipped. I would run up 70 dollar bar tabs, then throw down 30 bucks for a tip and walk out. Sometimes I would just walk out and throw the bartender money the next time I came in. 

This went on for a few years. The end result was that the bartender was fired (I wasn’t the only one he was giving free drinks to) and I had to find a new bar. It was more traumatic than it sounds.

Being a regular makes it much easier to get laid, for a while anyway. Instead of being an unknown predator, you are this dude they see all the time.  It helps of course if you are funny or mysterious. But then eventually you become the only thing worse than an unknown predator, which is a known predator.

Which brings me to my main point: there are positive and negatives to being a bar regular.

The positives: everyone knows you.

The negatives: everyone knows you.

You need a lot of skill to go to a bar solo and fit in. It can happen, and I can do it, but the other regulars and bartenders are always going to look at you a little askance. The best thing to do is to have a bunch of different friends you can bring with you to the bar at different times. That way you avoid the whole lone wolf stigma, but then you have to beware of your friend ruining your rep at your hangout. Because if the regulars and bartenders don’t like your friend, you are screwed as well. Nothing kills the scene worse than an idiotic wingman.

Any true drunk knows the lifecycle of the bar regular. There are four significant stages that occur, some may take months, and some years, but in time, all of them will occur to varying degrees.

Getting in.

At first, of course, people don’t know you. Keep to yourself on your initial visit, be friendly, but not too overzealous. Wooing a bar is pretty much the same as wooing a lady. Show confidence. Say things when you feel like it to whomever you want at the bar, or the bartender. 

But if you don’t have anything funny or interesting to say, don’t say anything at all. If you aren’t funny and interesting, nothing is going to go well for you at the bar, so this article is not for you.

A lot of people get freaked out at the thought of sitting at a bar by themselves. Don’t be one of those people. Sitting at a bar is one of the finest pleasures known to man. Don’t let your fear own you.

Say funny things, chat up the bartender, but be subtle. If the bartender is a woman, flirting is fine as long as you don’t overdo it. If you can’t do it well in real life, for fuck’s sake don’t do it in the bar.

Buy some drinks for others and tip well. This is like putting money in the bank. If you show love to your bartender and fellow regulars they will show it back when you need it. Trust me on this one.

The biggest thing: just keep showing up. If you like it there and act cool, people will eventually like you too. That’s how bars work. If you weren’t there looking for someone to talk to, you would be drinking at home.


You’re In.

The bartenders call you by name when you arrive. My favorite ever was a bartender yelling out, “It just got a whole lot cooler in here!” as I walked through the door.

People are genuinely happy to see you. You get a free drink here and there. It starts to feel like you really have a scene. If the bar is too crowded, you start to get irritated by all the other people who aren’t regulars taking your seat.

It seems important that you go to the bar now. If you are home, you wonder what is going on at the bar. It always seems like you are missing something when you aren’t there. Your bar calls your name.

The bartender knows you usually tip well, so it isn’t that big a deal if you tip on the light side here and there. People know you, it is easier to bum smokes because of that and you don’t need to buy a pack. You get cut off on the rare occasion, but you handle it like a gentleman. You start getting laid a lot. You say things and people laugh.

Basically, it is party time.

On Your Way Out.

Now when you enter, the bartender still says hi, but it is a little forced. He had to throw you out a week ago, and things haven’t been quite the same since. 

It wasn’t your fault, this chick kept saying you were in her space when you were just trying to drink, but for some reason the bartender doesn’t seem quite over it.

You have bummed too many smokes and sometimes people say no when you ask for one. You now take the fact that you used to tip well as a reason to tip badly.

Once, a few weeks ago you left on the tab, and didn’t come back for a few days to clear it up.

Sometimes when it is a slow day, maybe just the beginning of the night, there are only five girls at the bar. You’ve lied to all of them, slept with three of them, and stolen from one. If you weren’t so hammered you would feel uncomfortable.

You say things and you are ignored, albeit in a polite way. The “friends” that you bring with you are of lesser and lesser quality by the day.

You find a new bar.

It has to happen… Your relationship has run its course. It was beautiful while it lasted, but it is over. The romance is gone, and there is no getting it back.

Remember that other place that you went that time? They had cheap well drinks for happy hour and the bartender seemed cool. Tomorrow would be a good time to check it out.

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