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Punch Drunk

The 5 Lessons You Learn in a Bar



Wait, don't turn the page. The thought of an entitled, clown-college-B.A.-degree-having, entirely self-serving 28-year-old nap aficionado handing down life lessons sickens me too. But don't you go flipping to whatever gratuitous pomposity we printed on the Back Page just yet. These aren't real-life lessons to take to heart or to take even remotely seriously — unless your life is really screwed up, like Bobbi Kristina Brown-and-her-stepbrother screwed up. If it's that bad, just hand me all of the good drugs in your purse and take a seat, you freak show, this is important.

Here are five things that I've consistently noticed through the years, from behind the bar, that have become gospel in my ever-changing, mostly negative view of society. (The only one I would absolutely take to heart is No. 5. Seriously. It's beyond the truth.)

1. Don't trust anything anyone says in a bar, ever.

Not even your sweet old grandmother. Bars are incubators for lies and the sooner you realize every word out of everyone's mouth is in some form a complete fabrication, the sooner you can relax. The bar is a fantasy world. This isn't a bad thing, either. Sure grandma, you slept with Stalin. Right, OK.

2. Bar owners are notoriously insecure, so they bought a bar and friends.

The exceptions are my current bosses and any of my yet-to-be-determined future bosses — who all are worldly, incredibly witty and grossly well-endowed. Handsome bon vivants, these guys.

3. Every person in the entire world is awkward.

I see so many weird, stilted — "You got it, Joben ... Laters on the menjay." — conversations and mannerisms in a bar. Hundreds, every night. Sit silently sometime and observe for yourself. The alcohol of course helps this and makes us comfortable in our own skin, but we're all still awkward as hell. No one is as cool as they think they seem, and I'm guilty of that syndrome all the time, every day. I'm a goofy bastard. Just look at me.

4. Politicians, especially of the city-local variety, are even more nauseating when they let their guard down.

It's easy to see why the general public has such a hate-hate relationship with our local politicos. Their fake sincerity and money- and time-wasting crusades to make smoking cigarettes within 100 yards of a dog park without a concealed weapon's permit on Mother's Day a federal offense and the asinine trips to get drunk with Donald Trump in New York City are vomit-inducing enough. Now stick them in a bar, ply them with bourbon and listen in. Total snake-oil-selling windbags who will smile in your face like some congenial grandfather and then try to shove a finger up the waitress' skirt. I'd name names but Evil Editorman says something about lawsuits or deportation or something. Come to the bar and I'll tell you some stories.

5. Anyone with chin-strap facial hair is an asshole.

No exceptions.

Fine, I suppose I'm pretty good at gratuitous pomposity also. You may now proceed to the Back Page.

Have a question for Richmond bartender Jack Lauterback? Email bartender@styleweekly.com. Jack also serves as co-host of 103.7-FM's "River Mornings with Melissa and Jack," weekdays from 6-9 a.m. On Twitter @Jackgoesforth.

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