Freudian Slips: Hey Bartender!

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Location: Irony, New Jersey, United States

Life takes us many places. It's a box of chocolates and a Hansel and Gretal trail of candy wrappers. I have filmed as an actor in The Happening, Invincible, The Lovely Bones, The Bounty Hunter, The Greek American, Bazookas, Limitless, TV's Its Always Sunny in Philly, Outlaw, New York, The Warrior, The Nail, Game Change, Cold Case, & commercial work includes The Philadelphia Eagles, Septa, Coors, Turbo Tax & Carnival Cruises. Freudian Slips spotlights irony in short story format.

July 18, 2005

Hey Bartender!

A long time ago, I realized that my DNA is missing the loneliness gene. I do a lot of activities by myself and do not need company to have a good time. The world with its infinite and endless irony is my playground. Escorts are a luxury whom I do not refuse but I have learned to live without their company.

I went by myself to Grabbe’s in Westville, New Jersey. It is a shell of a tavern in a small town that serves an outstanding all-you-can eat crab special. A female bartender manned the empty bar on a slow Monday afternoon. Bartenders are like pharmacists with a puny inventory and today there was but one customer to be had. I nestled into a bar stool, ordered a root beer, and my slobber waited for the first plate of garlic crabs to come out of the kitchen. The bartender walked over to the jukebox to pump background noise in the joint. She played one of my favorite songs in the world, For Crying Out Loud I Love You by Meatloaf. Her choice of song proved to be uncanny. When she returned behind the vacant bar, we talked about rock music for awhile. Our conversation got redirected over to people in different walks of life.
“I got one for you." she quipped. "A few years ago, this guy came in here wearing a strange white suit from head to toe. I was working as a waitress that day. He sat right back there in the corner booth. I couldn’t believe my eyes.” Her description sounded like her subject had disembarked a UFO to enter the bar for shits and giggles. “I have been working here for 18 years. I will never forget it as long as I live. I asked him why he was dressed like that. He explained he had some weird disease and had to wear the suit everywhere he went.”
With that bombshell of a story off of her chest, the bartender torched a cigarette. I asked her to come hither before she had time to get judgmental about her visitor. I opened my cell phone and showed the bartender the screensaver of me in my beekeeper’s suit.
“Did he look like this?” I asked whimsically.
“That’s the guy!” she exclaimed. “I don’t believe it! What are you doing with that guy’s picture?”
I wanted to tell the bartender a yarn about working for the FBI and that I was on the trail of an illegal alien from space. But strange enough coincidence existed that needed no invention.
“That is me!” I admitted.
“Are you freaking kidding me?” she said bewilderedly. “Wow!”
We made small talk about the idiosyncrasies of my skin disease. The conversation was effortless like we had known each other for years. She changed the channel on the television until it settled on Oprah Winfrey. We talked next about the joint experience of turning 40 years old a few years ago, spouses, family matters, and former relationships.
The bartender asked, “What high school did you graduate from?”
“Washington Township High School.”
“You know, I went to Gateway Regional High School. I graduated in 1980. I may be dating myself but when I was in ninth grade I had this crush on this real cute boy. My God, I was obsessed with him. I used to write his name on my book covers and day dream about being with him. I hold him responsible for my mediocre grades. Damn, I can still visualize his name scrawled across my text books. Joe Tornatore.”
She uttered my name with a tonic of fondness and familiarity. I nearly swallowed a crab claw. The bartender wasn’t dating herself as much as she once wanted to date me. I wondered how many times the bartender has told this barroom story before it reached its rightful owner? She turned her back on me to wash some dirty glasses. It gave me a moment to regroup. I seized the moment by removing my driver’s license. Proof was all around us, distilled or not. I asked her to come hither again.
"Hey bartender!"
“Now what?” she asked.
I instructed, “Do yourself a favor and read me the name on that driver’s license.”
She walked over to my open wallet then looked as though she had seen a ghost. “What the hell is going on here?”
I enlightened, “I am Joe Tornatore.”
“You are not. How can that be?” she protested. “What are you doing with Joe Tornatore’s driver’s license?”
“For crying out loud, I am he!”
“No. You just told me you went to Washington Township High School.”
“No, I said I graduated from Washington Township High School. I went to Gateway from 1974-1977 and that included hormone raging freshman year.”
She gave me a blindsided stare. Her world kept spinning on its axis and stopping at longitude and latitude Joe Tornatore. I was hosting a surprise party of one at the expense of another. I started to frighten the bartender so I put a big ole sweet pea grin on my face. A brash woman, I reduced the bartender to blushing. She regained her composure in no time for a stab at sarcasm.
“Joe, is there anything else you want to freaking tell me?”

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good story Joe!You actually don't need to have the loneliness gene, as it seems you have the world in your hands chi

3:41 AM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

As you can see, secret admirers got me nowhere with the ladies.

8:55 AM  
Blogger the Contrary Goddess said...

Wow. Too cool.

6:34 PM  
Blogger eatmisery said...

That's one hell of a story. Is it really true? The waitress must've been floored. I can only imagine the look on her face. Did you ever go back there?

7:28 PM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...


Totally true. It is unusual to be attracted and scared to someone simultaneously but that makes the story.

10:14 PM  
Blogger LiVEwiRe said...

What a fabulous story! Oh how I love to hear things like that! Sometimes things all just tie together when you don't expect it. I'll be back to read more but for now I've got to go. Almost mignight and I may turn into a butternut squash or something...

11:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

no "eff-in" way

11:48 PM  
Blogger Hans the Destroyer said...

Wow, that is indeed a story that is almost impossible to believe, and utterly fantastic. Thanks for stopping by the blog- it's good to meet you.

12:11 AM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

My entire blog is irony. Visitng is like taking one a day irony supplements.

My dear brother-in-law there was no F-in involved. It was merely infatuation.

If I could only write every story the way you do art. thanks for stopping all the way from Seattle.

11:15 AM  
Blogger PaxRomano said...

My God Joe,
That's like some old movie from the 40's --- great story, loved it!! It's going to be a pivotal scene in the movie (after the stage play is produced of course).

3:39 PM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

We got to get to Oprah before the movie. I thought you were going to be my agent?

11:11 PM  
Blogger Zelda Parker said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:17 AM  
Blogger Zelda Parker said...

Pax and I have been looking for material this good to produce/direct a film for Roman Zeal productions. We've decided that it will star Antonio, Brad Pitt, George Clooney and Javier. Jennifer Aniston will play the bartender. Who do you wish to play your part?

9:24 AM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

Any WASP playing an Italian Bee Man would be quirky enough for me.

10:02 AM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

Ugh...the bartender looked nothing like Jennifer Aniston. Trust me. That is the beauty of my writing. I leave out the parts that don't enrich the picture I wish to paint.

10:05 AM  
Blogger Rob Seifert said...

Impressive. Thanks for the visit. I'm pleased to have found your blog. I'll be back.


11:13 PM  

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