This term, I have had the questionable pleasure of facilitating the drunken obnoxiousness of several of the University’s sports teams while on their weekly socials. I have also had to undergo the unquestionable chore of serving drinks at their infamous ‘initiation ceremonies’.
A bartender’s duties at one of these ceremonies vary somewhat from a typical shift. Some are to be expected, for example, pouring 400 pints of lager as fast as possible, closely followed by 200 rapid-fire Jagerbombs and several fridges-worth of soon-to-be-necked alcy-pops. But it also includes duties which aren’t normally in the job description, for example mopping up the vomit of a load of freshers who have massively overestimated their capacity to “strawpedo”, and having to put up with the rudeness of numerous prats who think that possessing a mediocre talent for kicking or throwing a ball around a field gives them a license to lord it over us less gifted proles. I honestly don’t care if you were the undisputed star of Varsity, and I don’t even give a shit if you once had trials at Crewe Alexandra, you’re still gonna have to wait for your pint of lager-tops just as long as everyone else, so stop leaning over the bar, crumpled fiver in hand, and shouting at me that you’re next, ‘cause all you’re doing is getting right on my tits.
If I wanted to stand for six hours watching a bunch of animals beat their chests and grunt at each other, I would have gone to the zoo. Dealing with these impatient baboons is made considerably more taxing by the fact that the air is thick with testosterone, sweat and repressed sexual tension. For some insane reason sports initiations insist on making the prolonged display of male genitalia an important part of their rituals. My weary eyes really don’t want to see yet another pimply little eighteen year old nervously drop his pants in front of a third-year thug twice his size, who in turn gazes for an uncomfortably long time, as if trying to memorise every contour of the shrivelled manhood in front of him. Will everyone please realise that ritually swinging your dick around in public is not macho, hard, or cool. It just makes everyone, both exposer and exposee, look like twats.
The chants that followed this exhibition were truly ridiculous though. At one point the rabble collectively started howling some true gems such as “We hate Badminton!” and “We hate Tennis!” How can racquet sports inspire that much emotion in a person? John McEnroe might have been a bit snotty sometimes, and Boris Becker was once found guilty of marital infidelity in a cupboard, but these are hardly the kind of people to inspire the kind of enraged hatred normally reserved for serial killers. Anyone who’s ever watched Tim Henman will know that Hitler, he ain’t. It’s possible that the team was simply making an astute commentary on elitism in sports, the lack of meaningful social mobility, and bemoaning the fact that a classless society is still a faraway dream. Personally though, I think it’s far more likely they were just being fucking stupid.
For a bunch of people who pride themselves on sporting prowess, they sure can’t aim a stream for love nor money. The gent’s bogs looked like a scene from the Poseidon Adventure. I had to roll up my jeans just to go for a piss, not being brave enough to venture into a cubicle, and this was all before 9pm. I fully appreciate that it’s difficult aiming like Robin Hood when you’ve had a few, but please, at least try and aim straight, and if you can’t manage that, lock yourself in a cubicle and treat yourself to a nice sit down.
One blessing of initiations though, is that everyone present gets so tanked so quick, that most people disappear to spew or stumble to bed pretty early on. This is often true of any sports social: Rarely ones to arrive fashionably late, they normally plague the bar en-masse while the general public are still drinking at home, and then proceed to get utterly wrecked in the fastest, most economical way possible. A typical exchange goes like this:
“How many of your cheapest, strongest drink, can I get for £10?”
“Great! I’ll have five then!”
This exchange is normally repeated roughly every half-hour, with words becoming increasingly slurred, and eventually ends with repeated requests for a double-vodka-red-bull for 47p or whatever amount of copper they can scrape from the depths of their wallet. These requests are ALWAYS denied. Said wrecked person then usually decides it best to try and go home, often before midnight, leaving me free to enjoy my job for the next few hours.
It is worth stating that I am not in any way opposed to the kind of drinker, and we all know at least one, who attends a club with the specific intention of getting from zero-to-shitfaced in the fastest way possible. I have been known to do that myself on more than one occasion, and the low prices in a lot of clubs and bars round Swansea mean that this behaviour almost encouraged, if not explicitly so. However, both they and I would have a better time if they stopped ordering ridiculous, horrible tasting drinks with stupid names like ‘Kryptonite’ and ‘Turbo Shandy’. By far the most common of these monstrosities, at least around Swansea, is a ‘Champion’, which if I remember correctly, consists of a large gin and a large whisky topped off with a Smirnoff Ice. Unless it’s some weird bet, there is no reason for anyone ever to order a Champion, a Kryptonite or any other drinking with a silly made-up name and here’s why:
1. It’s a false economy: Any drink with an Alcy-pop as a constituent ingredient is going to cost you far more heavily on the alcohol-per-pound scale than a plain old double-and-coke. You’re hitting yourself hard in the wallet for the pleasure of downing a sickly horrible glass of vomiting-inducing muck.
2. It’s against the rules: My job requires me to put the gin and the whisky in separate glasses, and while it is initially funny watching you do an awkward form of liquid juggling, it gets tiresome after a while. Plus, you look like a dick doing it.
3. It slows me down: The bar is three deep in punters, and I’m trying to serve all of you as fast as possible. Do you really think I want to listen to you explain what your stupid idea of a drink is, just so you can look like more of a ‘lad’ in front of your mates? No I don’t.
Over all though, bartending is still a damn fun job. But it’d definitely be more enjoyable for me, and probably for you, if you managed to be polite, keep your junk in the trunk, voice your opinion of racquet sports less aggressively, aimed your stream true, and stuck to conventional wisdom when ordering yourself a drink. If you can just stick to these few perfectly reasonable guidelines, I’m sure we can all have a nice, pleasant, sociable evening together.