Mike and I recently took a Miami vacation that ended with a marathon day of drinking. Shocking, I know. The fancy hotel itself was an anniversary splurge, and the last thing we needed was a huge bar tab. Selling my blood for cash because I had to try all eight flavors of mojitos is always embarrassing.
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me every vacation since I turned 21, and there’s a 50/50 chance it could be my fault.
Luckily, my blood type is rare — Blue Cheese Positive — so the fancy hotel blood mobiles don’t usually complain about my alcohol level when I sell a little to pay for room service. They just pump it into a bag, toss in an olive, and send me on my way.
On this particular vacation, my husband decided to thank poolside bartender “Patrick” for his five hours of conversation by playing a joke on his manager. Toward the end of the evening, after eyeing the manager lady for some time, Mike asked if he could speak to her.
Patrick, certain that Mike would tell his manager that his bar-tending skills rivaled those of Tom Cruise in Cocktail, agreed to introduce them. Either that, or, after helping us recover our lost trains of thought all afternoon, he just liked the idea of us speaking to someone else for a while.
The next time the manager walked by, Patrick called to her and introduced her to Mike. After some pleasantries, Mike stood and asked if he could speak to her privately. Breaking into her best guest-relations grin, she happily agreed. The two of them stepped around the corner of the bar, just out of Patrick’s earshot but close enough that I could listen in by leaning precariously on my stool.
“Look, I don’t want to cause trouble,” Mike said in his best conspirator’s whisper. “But this bartender has been giving me the wrong beers.”
The manager looked back at Patrick, who grinned, oblivious to the gears that had been set into motion.
Oh poor Patrick, I thought. He has no idea. I immediately ordered another mojito just in case his zest for muddling waned after everything was said and done.
The manager turned back to Mike and cleared her throat. She assumed her most professional posture.
“I’m so sorry, sir,” she said. “I assure you Patrick is usually one of our best bartenders. Did you say he gave you the wrong beer?”
Mike nodded. “I’ve been asking for Coronas and he’s been giving me Negra Modelos all day.”
Mike pointed to the dark beer sitting on the bar in front of his chair. “Does that look like a Corona to you?” he asked.
The manager turned and eyed the beer. “No…” she said. “It doesn’t. I’ll be sure Patrick gets you the correct beer right away.”
“You don’t understand,” said Mike quickly as the manager tried to escape. “It’s happened four times.”
The manager scowled.
“I’m sorry, sir,” she said after a moment. “You’re saying Patrick gave you the wrong kind of beer four times?”
I could tell by the tone in her voice that the manager found herself trapped between common sense and the hotel’s ‘the customer is always right’policy. Still, she just couldn’t stop herself from asking the obvious question.
“Why didn’t you tell him it was the wrong beer after the first one?” she asked, trying her best not adopt the tone of voice that implies, in her head, her question ends with “dumb ass.”
“I did!” Mike threw up his hands and huffed with frustration. “And every time I told him, Patrick tried to come around the bar and fight me!”
“What?” The manager straightened with alarm. ”Sir, I am SO sorry! I can’t imagine what could have come over him! I assure you—”
Mike cut her off. “AND he only gives me half a beer each time.”
Stifling a laugh, I snorted lime pulp out my nose. After five hours of drinking I usually look like that, so no one noticed.
“What!?” the manager practically shrieked. ”What are you talking about?”
“He gave me half a beer,” repeated Mike.
The manager turned to see that Mike did, indeed, have half a beer in front of his stool. She pointed at it.
“You mean this one?”
“ALL OF THEM,” said Mike, stone-faced. “All day: half beers and wrong beers. Every. Single. Time. Then I complain and he threatens to hop over the bar and fight me.”
The manager’s jaw hung slack as she tried to calculate just how much of an ass Mike would have to be to inspire Patrick to maniacal acts of beer-taunting and violence.
Seeing the poor woman’s head was about to explode, Mike started laughing and let her off the hook.
“Nah, Patrick’s awesome,” Mike said. “I’m totally kidding with you.”
“ARE YOU SERIOUS?” said the manager, her shoulders slumping with relief. ”You deserve an Oscar!”
Much to my relief, she started laughing hysterically.
“You really had me going,” she said, clapping Mike on the shoulder. “I thought Patrick had lost his mind.”
Mike and the manager stepped back to the bar and told Patrick the story. He loved it. So much so, that our tab was about a million dollars light.
But, we won’t tell the manager about that.