Friday, April 04, 2003

Shay's Whine Bar
In the 30 years I've been alive, I've not once been asked to leave a bar or restaurant because of any misbehavior. Until last night. Band practice for the Anchormen was canceled because Chris had to work late and Tom had an Asian Babe Alert show at the Sky Bar. I debated going to the Pornbelt show at the Choppin Block -- or to the ABA show -- but it was raining mildly, and I wanted to stick closer to home and the T.

After hanging out at the Different Drummer with some colleagues after work, a couple of us headed to Shay's Wine Bar on Harvard Square to meet up with some other friends, including one who'd been recently laid off and one who might have a hernia (he's going to the doctor soon). We were hanging out, talking, and I stepped outside to get some fresh air because the place was getting a little smoky. I came back in, made my way back to my friends, and picked up my Bass.

A man came up to me, said, "I'm not comfortable serving you," took the pint out of my hand, and set it back on the counter where I'd set it down just moments ago before stepping outside. "You're not comfortable serving me?" "No," he said. "Can I at least hang out?" "No. You have to go."

I was stunned. "I have to go?" "Yes," he said starting to move to help me leave the bar. I bent down to pick up my bag. "That's not your bag," he said. "Actually, it is my bag." He made me show the bag to my friends and asked if it was my bag. They confirmed that it was, and I left.

I was stunned. What had just happened? What had I done to warrant that? I hadn't bumped into anyone. I hadn't been rude to anyone. I hadn't been loud. I wasn't intoxicated. I was the exact opposite of the kind of person a bartender would feel uncomfortable with or threatened by. I almost turned back to ask him some more questions, but I thought better of it. I hopped on the T and headed home.

The wheels kept spinning. I should've asked him why he was uncomfortable. I should've asked for a refund on the beer I had just bought. If they were comfortable enough to serve me a minute ago, what made them uncomfortable a minute later? Maybe he thought I was a drunk stumbling into the bar because I did kind of trip on my shoelace as I was coming back in. Maybe he thought I was a drunk just stumbling in who made a bee line to the back of the bar, picked up someone else's beer, and tried to take someone else's bag. What had just happened?

As I was walking to the T, I emailed Jenn to say that I owed them money. I should've at least tried to settle my part of the tab before leaving. Still, I was stunned. She emailed me this this morning:

After you left, Nick and that bouncer went looking for you but couldn't find you. Then Nick wanted to call you but didn't have your cell phone number. See, that guy thought that you had just walked in and started drinking a random beer. Apparently, they get that all the time at Shay's. That's why he asked you to leave. So imagine how much of an asshole he felt like when we were like, he was with us. Why'd he have to leave? This guy at the bar told him to go lie down and that clearly he was too tired, kicking out legitimate customers and all. Then he and Nick ran out to go look for you, but I guess you were well on your way.

Phew! When I got home and when I got up this morning, my mind was still reeling. What had I done? I had done nothing. I've not experienced such a weird mix of self-righteous defensiveness and concern before. I was ready to write a letter of complaint to ask for a $4 refund. I was ready to boycott the joint. Funny that the guy who'd asked me to leave came after me to invite me back -- I'd just headed straight to the T. Jenn says that Dana, the cute bartender there who plays drums in the Signal, was angry at the bouncer. And Dave says that I should go back tonight and ask if I can finish my beer.

I guess it all worked out for the best. I was stunned, but it was the guy's mistake. Had I had more presence of mind to talk to him about it, I probably could've set him straight. Weird.

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