Maybe the one bar honor that’s eluded me over the years was secured last month when Josh Starrett took over management of Flappers, the beguiling 1920’s speakeasy-style saloon on the second floor of the historic Tin Lizzy.
I was the first customer.
Really, as bar feat’s go, it wasn’t like the time in ’87 at The Junction in Athens, Ohio, where George and I remained upright on our barstools for 15 straight hours, or in ’92 when I guzzled four yards of ale at Mario’s on Pittsburgh’s South Side.
There’ve been many, most of them now long forgotten.
That’s the thing about amazing drinking feats; they’re usually forgotten as a direct result of amazing drinking feats.
Being the first customer is another matter entirely. It’s just a matter of good timing.
Josh is a well-liked area musician and is eager to turn Flappers into the thriving nightspot it deserves to be.
He has my full support.
He’s a great bartender because he’s both interesting and interested. He tells good stories and is eager to hear yours.
So on his first day I stopped in to wish him well, sip a double Wild Turkey and just shoot the shit.
Josh surprised me by sliding one of my dollars back and handing me an uncapped Sharpie.
“You’re my first customer,” he said. “I’d like you to sign your dollar so I can put it on the wall behind the bar.”
I was flattered.
“May this be the first of millions!” is what I wrote and I hope it comes true.
It’s been up there for about nearly a month now. I like to visit it.
I always look at it and point it to out to other drinkers, a fact that won’t be truly cool until it’s been up there for another 30 or 40 years.
It’d be helpful, of course, to business — both mine and Josh’s — if something would happen to make me overnight famous.
Then I could show people the dollar and say, “And here’s the dollar from back when all I had was a dollar.”
I wonder if Josh had any idea how risky it is to put up a dollar from a man who has historically had so few of them.
Like what’ll happen if I’m short on cash some night and need that dollar back?
Is it mine or is it Josh’s?
It still feels like it’s mine and it does have my name on it.
I’d suggest we could connive to have it settled by one of the TV judges. We could both wear bar T-shirts. It would be good publicity.
But I’d come off looking awfully cheap and cheapness is something I detest.
What’s odd is I’ve for years been known for leaving my very last dollar in bars and now in at least one cool place I’ll long be known for leaving the very first.
It’s a minuscule investment, one that’ll earn no interest, but is bound to be forever interesting.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!