Many, many moons ago, I tended bar at a local establishment. The place burned to the ground not terribly long after the events of this story took place, but the memories live on in my heart.
A little dramatic, right?
On this particular day, I was sitting on the other side of the bar. It was a little after 5:00, and my friend Cat had just opened, so the only patrons that had wandered in happened to be myself and our neighbor, Brett.
We were attempting to come up with some new drink recipes when Brett informed us that he had made up a new shot. Curious, Cat began to mix the concoction according to his instructions. I don’t recall the recipe, but I remember Bacardi 151 was involved and it all sounded horrible. Once she had placed it in front of Brett, he lit the shot on fire and downed it.
While Brett was patting himself on the back for his great feat of bravery, two new guys walked through the door. They were obviously college students who looked like they might have only recently turned 21. Maybe it was the wide-eyed look of innocence on their faces that gave it away…maybe it was the fact that they were both wearing clothes that seemed to have been picked out and freshly ironed by their mommies that morning. At any rate, Brett and I watched the newcomers closely as they sat down at the bar and ordered.
One of them seemed quite taken with Cat, and in a misguided attempt to impress her he accepted the challenge Brett extended to try this wondrous new shot. Cat mixed it and handed it to him, and he was about to knock it back when Brett shouted “WAIT!”
Startled, Mr. J.C. Penny set the shot on the bar and gave us all a questioning look. Cat already knew what was coming and immediately put on her disapproving face.
“You’re not doing it right if you don’t light it on fire, dude.”
The kid looked down at the shot and then back at Brett a few times and you could see the wheels turning in his head. On one hand, he wanted to impress the lovely Miss Cat. On the other…well, it’s a flaming shot. Eventually, he looked to me as if I would become his ally and steer him in the right direction. I believe this was his fatal mistake. I gave him my friendliest, most encouraging I’m-on-your-side look and said, “Well what are you waiting for? Do you need a lighter?”
Cat stood behind the bar, hands on her head, yelling at him NOT to take the flaming shot (that had mysteriously been lit by now) but Brett and I were yelling over her to JUST DO IT ALREADY!
The next thing we knew, the kid had the shot in his hand and was slowly bringing it his lips…after a brief hesitation, he tipped his head back and emptied the shot glass into his mouth.
And then immediately did a flying leap off of his bar stool, slapping himself about the head, neck and face screaming “MY FACE IS ON FIRE! MY FACE IS ON FIRE! I’M ON FIRE!”
I tried to be concerned, I really did…I might have even moved to put him out…But it was really hard to see what was going on through my tears of laughter. I stood there, clutching my stomach and practically howling with that special kind of laugh that makes you look like you need medical attention while, I assume, Cat and Mr. J.C. Penny’s friend extinguished him.
Cat was rather upset with Brett and I, and she completely failed to see the humor in the situation. I even detected a hint of blame in her attitude.
The kid was perfectly fine. In fact, he stuck around for a few more drinks and even left his phone number for Cat. She obviously never called him.
**I would just like to mention that the fire that destroyed this bar was not in any way related to the events in this story.