Let’s talk about bars. I like bars because they combine two of my favorite things in the world: drinking and hanging out. However, I don’t like hanging out with everyone, in fact, I really dislike most people. That’s why bars and I have a precarious relationship. It’s awesome to be out and about hanging with your pals, but it’s another to have to be out and about hanging out with everyone else.
The main thorn I have with bars is these people, the others, the everyone else. Everyone else sucks. So, in case you find yourself in a bar crowded with what Stevie Janowski would call “posers, hos, and shitheads” I have prepared this handy field guide to the clowns you’ll have to deal with.
Is it a full moon? It must be, because The Werewolf is out and drinking. The Werewolf is easily distinguished by their drink of choice. How so? The Werewolf’s drink is nice. Look for a draft microbrew, a Jack and Coke actually made with Jack, or anything that isn’t on the specials board and you’ll find the werewolf. Aside from their drinks that make your for-the-masses swill look inferior, one might think The Werewolf to be fairly innocuous. Wrong. The Werewolf can be one of the most annoying people in the bar. Because they only come out once in a Blue Moon, The Werewolf wants to hang out with everyone. Worse, they think everyone should hang out with them. By the end of the night, the, “C’mon, man, I never see you anymore” of The Werewolf will seem more unsettling than the howl of its furry namesake.
Don’t let the badass name fool you; Blackjack Ketchum is a tool. Named for the above-pictured New Mexico outlaw, the bar incarnation of Blackjack Ketchum is infamous for the same thing as their real-life counterpoint: hanging. In 1901, the Ketchum was hung, but the rope was too long and it ripped his head off. Every weekend, the modern day Blackjack Ketchum can be found “just hanging out” in your favorite bars and taverns. Blackjack Ketchum can play a valuable role, that is they are often teetotaler designated drivers, getting people home safe and providing a much-needed service to society at large. Most of the time they are judgmental assholes. A short chat with your typical Blackjack Ketchum would develop on the following lines:
“I saw you at the bar last night, did you get hammered?”
“Oh no, I don’t drink.” (this is where the judging begins)
“Really? Then why’d you go to the bar?”
“I just like to hang out and watch drunk people make fools of themselves.” (more judging)
“Well, that’s cool…I guess.”
Blackjack Ketchums are a bunch of dicks. They are usually girls, they usually hang out in packs, and even if they give you a crucial ride home, they will hold it over your head in a way that makes you wish you had walked those 19 blocks in the snow.
The friend of a friend. The buddy from out of town. The dude that you kinda know. These are the three main categories the Tagalong can be sorted into, each one of them with its own set of annoying characteristics.
Let’s face the facts, this is the 2000s and many of us hang out in more than one social circle. We diversify. These are my buddies I play mini-golf with, these are the buddies I birdwatch with, these are my buddies I go drinking with, etc. However, sometimes these friend groups can intersect. This is a classic Tagalong situation. On paper, it seems fine; I get along with this guy, I get along with these dudes, why wouldn’t we all make one great group? Because that’s not how it works, that’s why. The friend of a friend Tagalong will not branch out and mesh with the group. Nope. He will latch onto the friend that brought him in, effectively shutting that guy down for the night and generally dampening the overall vibe.
The buddy from out of town is a hit or miss. When one of your friends brings in his buddy from high school or whatever he can either be a totally righteous, kickass cat or a total asshole. Usually, he’s an asshole. The buddy from out of town’s forte is letting you know how much awesomeness his life consists of. His college? More awesome than yours. His high school stories? More awesome than yours. The bars in his town? So much more awesome than yours. Between this one-upsmanship and the fawning your pal will bestow on his long lost buddy is enough to ruin your night. This is our bar. Fuck off, man.
Rhetorical scenario: you have a class three times a week, and within that class there are a few people who you generally agree with and seem like cool kids. But you leave that in the classroom. However, say you see one of these kids at a bar, and their friends have flaked on them. You are the person they know at this bar and now they’re sitting at your table. What do you talk about? Class. Why? Because that is the only thing you have in common and you are both struggling to keep any awkward conversation afloat. Suddenly, the guy you kinda know Tagalong has made your night out work. What a shithead.
The Tagalong is a manifold bar personality, but ultimately one of the most insidious. They may be a nice person, but the gauche vibes they put out just aren’t copasetic to good times.
After School Special.
Look at this guy. Look how drunk he is. He is just pounding beers, slamming shots, and getting rowdy. Maybe he’ll take his shirt off and cause a big ruckus. Oh my, he just broke something. Looks like he’s getting kicked out. How cool.
The After School Special sucks. The derivation of his name comes in two parts; the first being that his behavior is better than any episode of School House Rock to warn children of the dangers of alcohol, the second being that he usually starts drinking right after school. This is the same kind of person who comes up to you on a Monday and says, unsolicited, “Dude, I got SO hammered this weekend” and continues to regale you with a tale that might include the phrases “…just shitfaced…”,”….might have blacked out…”, or “…pissed my pants, man!”. The After School Special is, for all intents and purpose, a child. They are loud, obnoxious and too dumb to realize that they are the aforementioned. I know the ways of the After School Special well because, let’s face facts, I used to be one. Eventually, I realized that acting like a total dumbass is not equitable with being a total hardass. Eventually, I realized that if you get kicked out of too many bars you’d end up drinking alone in your room, where you’d end up breaking your own stuff. And that would just be silly. To the After School Specials out there: grow up, Peter Pan, summer camp’s over.
Frosty the Bro-Man.
Frosty the Bro-Man is an enigmatic bar presence. He is a regular, he seems like he can slam a lot of beers, and it seems like a lot of the other patrons know him. However, he is rarely seen not sitting at his table in the back with his fellow Bro-Men, leaving in turns to pick up the next round, and his cold, indifferent attitude makes him somewhat unapproachable. Frosty the Bro-Man and his compadres seem snobbish, stand-offish and condescending, and most of the time they are. Maybe they considered this ‘their bar’ before other people started coming, and they consider everyone else an intruder. Maybe they are deep in conversation about an important issue. Maybe they’re just a bunch of assholes. We’ll never know.
These are the people you will see in every bar you will ever go to. Aside from the usual slutty girls (see: Know Your Enemy), they will be the main impediment to an enjoyable weekend evening. Hopefully this primer can help you navigate through the sea of lameness on the way to good times island.
The Dubliner used to be cool.