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of knowledge and you need to know how to communicate that knowledge to people without insulting them or making them feel inferior. Iíve always excelled in the verbal arts, so bartending came naturally to me.

One thing I quickly noticed was that as a bartender people show you more respect. People that would treat you like crap if you met them on the street suddenly start treating you as if youíre their best friend. You have something that they want. . .alcohol.

And here is a piece of information for those who donít think itís important to leave the bartender a reasonable tip: Donít expect a decent drink. It was this particular restaurant's policy to start watering the alcohol after a few drinks - the manager was thrifty that way. If you treat me like dirt, or if you donít tip, you can expect me to start following the managementís policy. Iíll make the most watery, tepid drink that youíve ever tasted. Hey, youíre not even tipping me - what do I care if I lose your business?

It wasnít long before I met Paul, a bouncer at a posh nightclub called Johnnyís, posh by the area's standards. Paul stood six and a half feet tall of rawboned muscle. Dark-haired and charcoal eyed, he came across affable and sincere. I made him a few stiff drinks and he invited me to Johnnyís when he would be working the door the next evening.

The intense heat of the day was dying and a breeze began to kick up. The stars glittered in their blanket of black up above. I pulled my CBR into a parking slot, locked my helmet to the bike and found Paul working the door. He slipped me through a side entrance so I could avoid paying the cover charge. My status as a bartender was already paying off in perks.

I ordered a beer and a shot of Jose Cuervo and struck up a conversation with a brunette looker named Stacy. I casually let it drop that I was bartending at Redd's and that she should make it a point to drop by some time. I promised that Iíd mix her up something special. As it turned out, by the end of the evening, she didnít need even that much enticement.

Paul introduced me to a series of friends and acquaintances. Although it was obvious that he knew them, he pointedly avoided introductions with several people. However, some of these people were to present themselves to me and I was to find out later why Paul had skipped them.

Alcohol flowed, and the introductions continued. I spent some time chatting with one of Paulís friends, Craig, a former stripper with a current weight problem. His hair was light brown and complexion sallow. He looked to be carrying about forty pounds of extra weight and complained vocally about it as he worked his way through a row of blue Kamikazes without showing visible effect from the liquor.

ďI either drink too much or I eat too much,Ē he said. ďOne of them has got to go. Iím thinking of forgoing the food until I can drop some tonnage.Ē

Conversation veered from diet to philosophy and religion. I told him how my parents had been involved in a small church group called The Way Ministry when I was a child, and he told me how he had studied religion and abstained from alcohol for two years while he had been doing so.

ďSo what happened?,Ē I asked, gesturing to the row of empty glasses on the table next to him.

He mumbled something about falling off the wagon.

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