Author's Note: Hm, how long have I been asleep? Two months? Maybe more? Anywho, I'm sorry for the absence and I'm sorry for this mediocre, not really funny, short piece of fiction.
Disclaimer: Not all the comedic stuff is mine, the modern man bits are excerpted from George Carlin and the lines about the traveling entertainers were from Steve Martin.
Stop me if you've heard it; a man walks into a bar…
"But hey, listen, you make due. Right? Well not 'make doo' but y'know what I mean," he shrugged off the few laughs and continued, nervously tugging the hem of his wrinkled shirt, "It's like asking directions from a Latino."
He points to a man and shrugs, "Don't even look like you don't know what I'm talking about… sir. Latinos, for some reason, have the worst sense of direction. Seriously. It's like," he pulls up his pants and squats a bit, doing some kind of impression, "'135 Longview, huh? Okay esei, you wanna make a lef' 'ere, then a righ' at the nex' ligh'. From there you go about 2 blocks 'til you see a gas station, hombre. Now go there an' ask for directions 'cuz I ain't got no clue.'"
A few more laughs and he's encouraged, "I mean, it's no wonder the Mexicans can't get into the US legally. They just can't find the gates." As laughter breaks out, he takes a break and takes a sip from the glass of water on the stool behind him.
He was awful; she shook her head and finished drying the martini glass, setting it to hang on the rack above her head. Raven watched as the amateur comedian got a few cheap laughs from the audience. He tossed his messy brown hair and tugged on his shirt again. She sighed and crossed her arms, leaning sideways against the bar.
Every Thursday was just like this; amateurs trying their hand at being the next Ray Romano. It was safe to say she hadn't come across any Ray Romanos in the 2 years she'd been here. Hey, a girl had to make money and trying to make legitimate dinero while juggling a college education was difficult. The money was in the entertainment district, either as a bartender or a stripper. So she chose the lesser of two evils and became a bartender. Getting the job wasn't hard either; she was probably the only girl on campus that wasn't willing to bus tables and instead chose to handle hard liquor. The money was good and, being a girl, the tips were better. Of course there was the occasional drunk trying to hit on her, but she was a big girl. She could handle herself.
And then there were Thursday nights, they were almost as bad as the Fridays and Saturdays, not because of the crowd but because of the god awful jokes. She'd developed a distaste for bad humor over the years and this just topped it all off. The idiot on stage said another politically incorrect joke and got the crowd rolling over in laughter and applause, giving him more encouragement.
"Hey, what's it take to get a drink around here?" A man was waiting down the counter, his arm leaning against the black hardwood. He looked about 23-25, a little older than her but, judging by his smile, not by much. He wore a dark purple button up shirt, the cuffs and top three buttons undone. He gave her a polite smile as she made her way to him, his green eyes flirting slightly.
"If I asked for sex on the beach, what would you say?" he enquired, a sly eyebrow raised. He was biting his lower lip, impressed at his own cleverness.
Raven just raised an eyebrow at his boldness and leaned in, "I'd say that was a girl's drink."
He nodded, unphased, "True enough. Good thing I just want a dirty martini."
She nodded and turned, grabbing a glass overhead and reaching for the gin in one quick motion. He smiled as he watched her quickly and efficiently making his drink.
"So how much does this gig pay?" he asked as she reached for the olive juice.
"Enough, it's not as glamorous as Tom Cruise makes it. But," she turned presenting him with the murky drink, "the tips really make it what it is." She gave him a smirk and he laughed at her hint. He took the glass from her, nodding politely like a gentleman. He looked down into the light brown liquid and through to the green olive at the bottom, impaled by a toothpick long enough to peek out of the glass.
It didn't look like much, just a simple drink really. But what made martinis were the mix, and he knew that. The man put his lips to the glass but stopped before sipping, looking up at Raven then put the drink down.
"Now does this martini have a guarantee?"
He waved his hand, "You know, 'the best damn martini you've ever had or your money back'? Stuff like that?"
She raised her eyebrow, "No."
"Then why should I drink it?"
"You asked for it."
He smiled, "True enough. But how do I know it's worth my money? Your word?"
She shrugged, quickly getting bored of this conversation, "Yeah, sure."
He picked up the glass again, placing it to his lips before putting it back down again, "How 'bout a deal?"
"Yeah, a deal. If this is the best damn martini I've ever had, then I'll tip you double the price of the drink."
"No? But you haven't heard the conditions?"
She leaned in and looked him in the eye, "I know the conditions; if it's not then I go out with you. No. Dice."
"That's a little self-centered of you to think I'd ask that," he said with a scoff. He looked away and tapped the ten on the counter again, "Frankly, that was the furthest thought from my mind."
Raven was taken aback, "Uh-I'm sorry. I didn't mean to-"
He snapped back quickly and leaned both elbows against the counter again, "But enough of that. How 'bout I just drink this martini you made me?" He picked up the glass and put it to his lips once again, looking at her the whole time. He sipped slowly and let out a loud 'Ahhh' once he finished.
A burst of laughter emanated from the audience one more time behind him. The both looked over, the comedian was curled up in the fetal position on the floor.
The man looked at her again, "You know a friend of mine is a comedian. He had, y'know, he had a really bad nervous itch. And whenever the crowd got really quiet, doesn't matter if it was out of attention, he'd itch. Like ridiculously. It'd start at the, the back of his left ear and if the silence continued it'd go to his chest. So you can imagine, a bad crowd and my friend just standing there itching like he had fleas. Well, it worked pretty well in the comedy business 'cause as soon as the itch would start the crowd would get hysterical. It was a great back up."
He looked at her, she just stared back at him as if he hadn't said anything, "Y'know a response would be great."
"Sorry, I just didn't find your story very funny."
He shrugged and shook his head, "You don't do comedy?"
"No, no. I do comedy. Just… select types of humor."
"Like, what? Dirty jokes? Dark humor? Sarcasm? Sarcasm looks like your type of humor."
She shrugged, "Sure sarcasm works. I just don't find stupidness very funny."
He nodded, "The intelligent humor."
"Sure, that too. I just hate these amateur comedians. They don't any sense of timing or appropriateness. The political stuff is funny, I mean what is 'organized government' but a big joke anyways. And the stereotypes card is good too but these guys, just… they don't have it I guess. There's nothing funny about what they say."
"Alright, so how 'bout you?"
"What about me what?"
He looked at her, while sipping his martini, "Are you funny?"
She gave him a funny look and chuckled, "Are you kidding me? No!"
He smiled at her and put up his hands in surrender, "Okay, okay," he took another sip of the martini, "That's the closest thing to a laugh I've heard from you all night."
She scoffed, "Why have you been watching me all night?"
He just smiled at her, his eyes making her slightly self conscious, and reached into his pocket. Suddenly, he rose with his drink and tossed the pile of money on the counter before leaving. She shook her head at the mysterious stranger, picked up the money and smiled. Twenty seven dollars. A tip twice the price of the drink.
A final burst of applause ran through the crowd as they clapped away one comedian and the MC set foot on stage once again.
"Let's give Mr Dirk one more hand folks, Jason Dirk! Now let me introduce to you a special guest tonight. Now, I know its amateur night and this guy's got an unfair advantage what with his Second City tour and spot on a few TV specials and all, but that's why we handed tomatoes out when you came in. So if he stinks, you have the opportunity, no the right, to bean him with a tomato. Please put your hands together, then pull them apart, then put them together again for Gaaaaaar Logan!"
The crowd cheered loudly for about five minutes as Raven watched in astonishment as the guy who was just as at the counter ordering a dirty martini and hitting on her. He walked on stage with the same confidence that he ordered his martini. She watched, leaning on the counter once more, as he set the martini down on the tall stool beside the mic. He smiled as the crowd continued to clap then he bowed jokingly at their graciousness. Gar grabbed the mic off the stand, setting the stand aside.
"Helloo folks!" the crowd cheered again and he stopped them, "I'm a modern man, a modern man, a man for the millennium. Digital and smoke free. I'm new wave, but I'm old school and my inner child is outward bound.
"I'm behind the eight ball, ahead of the curve, ridin the wave, dodgin the bullet and pushin the envelope. I'm on-point, on-task, on-message and off drugs. A street-wise smart bomb. A top-gun bottom feeder. I wear power ties, I tell power lies, I take power naps and run victory laps. I've got a personal trainer, a personal shopper, a personal assistant and a personal agenda.
"You can't shut me up. You can't dumb me down because I'm tireless and I'm wireless. I'm a non-believer and an over-achiever, laid-back but fashion-forward. My output is down, but my income is up.
"I like rough sex. I like tough love. I use the "F" word in my emails and the software on my hard-drive is hardcore--no soft porn.
"I'm a rude dude, but I'm the real deal. I take it slow, I go with the flow, I ride with the tide. I don't snooze, so I don't lose. I keep the pedal to the metal and the rubber on the road. I party hardy and lunch time is crunch time. I'm hangin in, there ain't no doubt and I'm hangin tough, over and out!"
He smiled and pretended to be out of breath as the audience hooted and hollered at his introduction.
"Thank you," he groaned and took a sip of his martini again, "Thank you. How do you like the show so far? Okay, we're havin' some fun out here tonight, I guess, huh?" he chuckled, "You know, a lot of people come to me, they say, Gar, you're a good lookin' guy, and the guys say this in the most non-gay way," he paused again for laughter, "you must meet a lot of girls on the road. I'd just like to dispel that rumour. Uh, it's kind of a myth about entertainers, y'know, you travel around from town to town, one night at a time and you don't have time to meet anybody and, I'm not into that one night thing, you know? I think a person should get to know someone and even be in love with them before you use and degrade them. So ..."
The audience cheered as he took the applause with grace. Raven just kept watching, looking at him with a fresh pair of eyes, secretly trying to hold back a chuckle.
"But seriously, I get tired of that 'dating scene', y'know? Yea, you know too, right?" he pointed to a member of the audience and laughed, "It's getting worse. They say 'it gets worse before it gets better', but no, I actually think this is it. This is the actual end of the line. It has gotten so ridiculously easy to get laid… no I'm serious, so easy to get laid that it's, it's a novelty. Sex is just another product to men and women like soap, or shirts or, or steroids, y'know, that can be bought, sold or traded like some stock market commodity. It's lost its real value. And not to sound like I'm comparing intimate relations with another person to the DOW, but it's like the DOW," he stopped again to sip at his martini, and for a moment, glanced back at Raven.
"And as for love, pssssh forget about it. Love now, the word 'love' now means sex. Did you know that? Well I don't know if you knew that, you look a little older," the man chuckled at the jab, Gar just smiled and patronized him as if talking to a child, "Now we say you've ripened… How are we to know if it's the real deal? What is 'the real deal'? We're so inquisitive now, and not in a good way. In that in your face, I gotta know 'cause I don't trust ya sort of way. Even toothpaste now, can you believe that people don't trust toothpaste? They don't, they gotta have 9 out 10 dentists approve of this brand of toothpaste before buying it. What, if it were only 8 it's not good enough?"
He smiled, glancing over at Raven again before sipping his martini. She smiled back at him and shook her head. He was actually pretty funny, he had instinctive timing and let the audience laugh at the right moments. He knew when to laugh with them and he knew when to keep a straight face, and his facial expressions as he told the jokes were right on the money.
"It's that assurance we gotta have. 'This better be the best', ha, 'the best' as if there is a 'best'. I bought a pair of pants yesterday and I was standing there, reading the label because that's what I do before buying pants… read. So I read the label and it said 'Certified grade jean'. Well hot damn, if my pants aren't certified grade jean, I'll none of it!
"So with all that in just the stuff we buy, where's the assurance in a relationship. There are all these statistics now saying how ever many marriages end in divorce or what percentage of couples who live together break up in a few years. I didn't need to know that. If me and her break up, then me and her break up it's not a science. It's just… fate, I guess. So now what do we do? Internet dating, bar hopping, blind dating, phone sex, speed dating, oral sex, anal sex, double dating, dating shows and dating books. There are dating services at movie theatres, at cafés, at comedy clubs," he looked around the audience and pointed at them, "comedy clubs… at restaurants, at bars, at gyms, at parks every where you can think of someone's lookin' to find someone. And that person who they're talking to isn't sure if this guy is worth her time." He paused for the cheer when he noticed the stage manager's 1 minute signal and nodded.
"So here's a funny story, today I got me this martini," he raised the glass in front of the audience, "And the funniest part may be that I didn't even want it. Ever had that? When you don't actually want anything but you end up at the store lookin' around like an idiot 'cause you thought you needed toilet paper, but you don't? So you buy a pack of gum, bottle of pop, some q-tips, a new toothbrush and a TV guide just so people don't notice you've been walking around the store for 10 minutes with nothing.
"But yea I didn't really want this; I actually just wanted to strike up a conversation with the bartender. I saw her when I first got in and thought she was really pretty so, y'know. But then, you know she saw right through me, shot me down, and I had to come up with some stupid excuse," he said wiggling the glass in front of him, "So I can keep my cool and walk away like nothing happened. Just, I couldn't just walk away, y'know, I was captivated by this girl and I end up babbling. About absolutely nothing, I end up trying to make her laugh…. Trying. So right now I'm standing here, ignoring the stage manager queuing me to get the heck off the stage, wondering if she's laughed at all. And I'm thinkin', maybe after I get down some part of my little act has gotten through to her and we won't have to have so much assurance. Maybe my charming little bold gesture has warmed her up to me. Or maybe I've just made an ass of myself once again, rambling on over time and I won't be invited here again. And I know what you're all thinking. I do, I know. You're thinking, 'they gave this guy 4 stars? Where's the assurance in that? Next time its 5 stars or bust.' Thank you guys and good night!"
Gar gave another gracious bow as the audience cheered him out. The MC rose and asked for another round of applause for the veteran comedian and slipped in a little comment he will be performing again here in the city at the Knight Club next Wednesday. Raven, despite herself, tried to peer over the crowd to see where the comedian had gone. But he had already disappeared into the back stage.
The rest of the night was hectic. The shows were finished but the night was still young. There were tons of people sympathizing with the stupid comedian and asking her why she didn't give him a chance. Raven just shook her head and served them her drinks. It was about last call when she heard a familiar voice down the counter.
"So stop me if you've heard this one, but a guy walks into a bar…"