From an old website, Alien in Montreal
My return to the Jello Bar last night is one that evokes mixed emotions this morning. One the one hand, I had an excellent night with wonderful friends, and drank some better than average martinis, whilst on the other hand, the end of the evening marred the whole event horribly.
With our English guests in town, and with it being their last night, we decide on the Jello Bar, as it is a fine, funky, soulful place. And it has nice lava lamps in the window, of course.
We arrive at about 10.45pm, and manage to grab some seats on the raised section across from the bar, from here we have an excellent view of the five piece soul band, whose name I never learnt. They weren't the type of band who shouted it at you all the time.
The lead singer was a real showman. He spent some time sending out respects to a group of people at the bar and then said to the barmaid, 'Hey, get these guys some drinks, whatever they like...' And then, when they turned happily to the bar, he added, '...but make them pay for it, yeah?' And then launched into the next song.
The music was, as the lead singer pointed out several times, pure soul. A guitar, bass, drums and violin. The violin was obviously a new addition to the group, and the only white guy in the band. The singer introduced the fiddle player and said, 'Hey man, play something, doesn't matter what... just not too long or anything...'
The fiddler played AC-DC. Laughing, the singer hung his head and shook it slightly, 'We used to have an all black band you know.' The rest of the band actually joined in and soon we had a frighteningly real cover, with the bass player doing a spookily verbatim Brian Johnson impression.
After that, things got back to the soul, with some James Brown covers, then a little reggae influenced stuff and then the classic (Xzibit's?) Last call for Alcohol, which is somehow apt, played at 2.30am.
So now we have the problem. I have a credit card backed tab with the waitress. I figure I've spent about $60 on drinks. I think I've had 2 manhattans, my wife has had three, I bought a round of 6 beers and another cocktail for a friend, and that's it. The rest of my drinks were bought for me. That comes to $87. Okay, so I was a bit out in my reckoning.
The bill I'm presented with is for $183.
I stare at it for a while. The waitress looks nervous.
'I don't think this is right.' I say, finally.
The waitress considers the situation, then says, 'What do you think it should be? I can adjust it, but I won't be happy.'
I think about this – this implies that she has no faith in her bill, if she's so willing to haggle over it without any argument.
'Can I see a list of the drinks we're supposed to have bought?' A reasonable request, I think.
'No, I don't have one.' She produces some little coloured post-it pads, shaped like flowers. They are covered in a scrawl of numbers. This is her tab system, so it seems.
'Look, this is too much, I'm not paying it. I need a list of the drinks you're charging me for.' I say.
She storms off. I go and find her ten minutes later. She has a list of drinks that she has written on a bit of paper.
'This is from memory,' she tells me.
It has 11 cocktails and six beers on it. It comes to $130. Well, this is already better, but still way too much.
'We only had a few drinks,' I note.
'Your girlfriend had six cosmopolitans, I asked her and she said it was true.'
'Okay, okay, if she says so.' (I later found out that she did indeed have six cosmopolitans, but three of them were bought for her by other people).
'And you had four manhattans.' She says.
I know this isn't true, but I'm starting to doubt myself. I have to compromise, obviously.
'I'm not sure about that, but go on...'
'And the six beers, and another two cocktails for your friends.'
Now, I know one of these, but the other was for a guy "in a striped shirt" she says. There is one guy in our group with a striped shirt, so I let this go too.
I pay the $130 bill, I figure I have no choice.
'There were lots more drinks put on your tab,' she says, 'all your friends were putting drinks on it.'
Now this I know is 100% not true. I can account for every drink every one had at our table, and I know that they all paid cash for each one of them. They had a bottle of wine, and then drank beers. I was involved in every round and watched them go to the bar and buy the damned things. And, no-one even knew that I had a tab until the end of the night when this fuss occurred.
'You're wrong,' I say, 'they're all still here, if you can point out anyone that put drinks on my tab, do so, and I'll pay it.'
'If you're wrong about this, I hope you feel bad.' She mutters.
'What?' I say.
'I can't afford to lose this much money you know.'
She's implying that I'm a liar. I turn away and leave. I find the striped shirt guy and ask him if he put any drinks on my tab.
'I didn't know you had a tab.' He says.
'So, no Cosmo then?'
'Shit no, I hate cosmopolitans.' He says.
I take him over to the tired looking, deflated waitress.
'Is this the guy you say ordered a cosmopolitan on my tab?'
She won't even look at him. 'I don't remember his face,' she says, 'you want $8.50 back? Hey?' She's turning ugly now, so we just walk away and out into the cool evening breeze.
I think I know what happened, though, it is just a guess. We paid after everyone else had paid their tabs in the bar, and I think she realised that she was short of cash, so put it all on mine. Like I say, just a guess, and maybe not true at all, and if it isn't then I take it all back... But... I did not drink the equivalent of 21 martinis... 100% sure...