Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Next digression.....more old history.

Just in case there were still people out there that are not yet offended..........

Anna Nicole Smith died of chloral hydrate, a sleep aid. A sleep aid? Why not a ball bat?

I am really feeling like a fossil now. I have been having chloral hydrate flashbacks....

I am a former Local 7 New York City Union Bartender. This was serious stuff, being a union bartender. There were rules, and if you broke them, you were done. A union bartender never puts his hands in ice......supposedly something about arthritis. This is why there were bar-backs....also a union job.

We were highly trained, though. Only just now is bartending as a profession coming back to the old standards.....and going beyond. In New York, in a neighborhood bar, you can get a passionfruit margarita with barrel aged single source tequila, Meyer lemon oil, and Murray River Sea Salt rim. Or have a vodka tonic......the bartender made the tonic water from heirloom Peruvian quinine and non-ossified mineral water. We won't talk about the Meyer lemons.....

We were trained more socially and culturally then technically.....though I once was voted creator of the "Best Martini in New York". The secret was in the stirring or shaking.......chill it but don't bruise it. The rocks needed to jump, and get out. Any junior banker could tell out of the corner of his eye if the bartender was fucking up his fifth martini by over stirring.

We were trained to assess the customer as he or she walked in: Scotch, gin or vodka; if scotch, J&B or Dewars, or Chivas, or single malt; soda or water. You could tell by the suit, the shoes, the tie, the walk.....Dewars guys were Democrats, J&B, Republicans; water guys were solid...soldiers, soda guys more flighty or artistic. English tailoring probably meant single malts, especially older guys......look for pipe and cigar ashes.

Another thing we knew about was Mickey Finns. The Mickey was the barman's last resort. If the customer was too fucked up, too belligerent....and beyond gentle, or not-so-gentle persuasion.....you had to go to the Mickey. Mickey Finn was historically an old time boxer with a famous knockout punch. The Mickey Finn was your bouncer in a bottle.

There were two basic classes: direct and indect Mickeys. The Italians preferred the direct route: chloral hydrate. A splash in the glass with a little scotch or anisette.....goodnight, Irene. The problem was that the asshole would immediately fall over off his stool with a bang. If the door guys weren't there to catch him it made a scene. In my day, at places like the Copacabana....where the door guys were armed.....and there was an attractive level of simmering violence pervading the club's atmosphere, it was not a big deal. In nice, subdued, WASPy French dining rooms it was not such a good thing. A nasty scene could ruin a place.

We used veterinary laxatives instead. A few drops in a complimentary drink for the obnoxious dickhead creating a problem.......and the guy would be sprinting for the bathroom. There, the door guys would be waiting for him, grab him, fuck him up...or not, and throw him out onto the street out of sight and earshot of the VIP's. The kind of elegant thing about the laxative was that the asshole would probably shit himself out on the street, and be too ashamed and embarrassed to come back in and cause problems.

Also, the laxative was not lethal.....well, not normally. My friend Pierre, liked to relax after work and drink Grand Marnier and Dom Perignon with a cute waitress on his lap at Le Berry. To which practice his wife objected on both financial and marital grounds. After a hard day's work, Pierre did not want to hear it.......and used to move her along back to the apartment with a little dose of Mickey. Sometimes she would be up there for days. Eventually she did pass on from some kind of digestive problems.........Yeeesh, the French. And he was the sweetest guy in the world......

Meanwhile, the chloral hydrate would occasionally kill a guy straight out. Too much booze, too much Mickey, and the guy would perhaps forget to breathe....Plus, it had a vicious hangover.......the bartender's revenge.

The fact that Anna Nicole Smith's psychiatrist prescribed chloral hydrate as a sleep aid is mind-boggling to me. She could have saved herself the medical fees and just acted like an asshole in an Mafia place in The Apple or Miami......Sweet dreams, baby. Personally, I wouldn't chloral hydrate my dog.....and I don't like my dog.

Meanwhile, as I said, the laxative was not without side effects. I was finally fired from my prestige job at The Colony behind it, and exiled to Europe.

It was Mother's Day, 1972......all the old ladies came in with their daughters and granddaughters. The Colony was on Madison and 61st Street, so these were the real deal grannies. That day we had Jackie Kennedy and Carolyn, Gloria Vanderbilt, and Claire Booth Luce and her hot granddaughter from Ithaca. A single guy came in and right away started making a scene. He ordered escargots and a filet, and a bottle of Latour, and started screaming for his food two minutes after the order. We brought him stone cold escargots.....he didn't notice. When two of us came over to try to quiet him screaming for his steak, he yelled: "Typical of you French faggots....takes two of you to deal with a real man!" I had to stop Marcel from pulling out the .22 automatic he always carried in his tux and shooting the guy where he sat. Claire Booth Luce glared at us.....but she was an acidhead at the time, so I figured it was still OK for a minute. Go with The Flow, baby.......

We dosed the guy's Latour, and told him he had a phone call that he could take in my office in the kitchen. As he got up from the table I brushed his lapels and buttoned his blazer for him. As he came through the curtain from the dining room he got The Look.

"Where is the rest room?"

Marcel grabbed him from the back, jerked his blazer down over his arms, trapping him with that good English bespoke button-stitchery. We grabbed his belt and collar and slammed him out through the back door of the kitchen and tossed him into the Dumpster. "Fuck you, and don't come back......"

Ten minutes later.....with the ladies still dining......the guy came back through the front door. He was covered in slime and orange peels and he had shit himself. He didn't care. Turns out he owned the whole block across the street (61st to 62nd, Madison to Park) and a seat on the New York Stock Exchange. He wasn't fazed at all.....and got the owner to apologize to him. And fire us. I barely kept Marcel from shooting him, and the owner.

Shoulda used chloral hydrate. Damn, it sure worked for Anna Nicole...........


Blogger Pexster said...

Great story! I want to hear more about the recent trip to Spain. (And feel free to throw in a few thoughts on Pisto.)

7:45 AM  

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