We all like to be recognized. When we walk into a room, we want people to turn and say ‘hello’. It’s not vanity, it’s the need to belong somewhere, to have a place to go where no matter how full of crap your friends are, (it’s never you), they will welcome you and be honestly happy to see you. That’s what being a regular is all about.
Even on my travels, I want to be a regular. While someday I may market the Accelerated Regularization System(tm), for now I share my observations with all ten of my readers for free.
Tonight’s discussion is how to recognize when you have reached regularity. Normally this is not a big deal, it’s just a side effect of finding a place you like to be. There was a bar in Pacific Beach, the Second Wind, where I was a regluar, but not frequent, patron. Eventually Suzanne, my favorite bartender there, came to recognize me, as did other regulars. There was no magic moment when I became a regular.
However, in the Accelerated Regularization System(tm), you have to watch for the signs. Once you know the signs, you can make sure you cross the thresholds more quickly. Here are the measurements:
The greeting from the bartender:
- Unknown: Hi! How are ya?
- Recognized: Hey! [Eyebrows arched, upward head nod]
- Regular: Hey, Jerry! (the first time, it may be the name on your credit card, which is a good time to tell them your real name, and shame on you for making them guess)
- Fixture: Where’ve you been?
- Fly: You’re late.
The bartender asking your order:
- Unknown: What’ll you have?
- Recognized: Was it the IPA?
- Regular: Here ya go.
- Fixture: We just blew the IPA, but you’ll like this.
- Fly: [beer is waiting by the time you reach your stool. Your bartender knows what you want better than you do]
The regular sitting next to you says:
- Unknown: How’s it going?
- Recognized: Good to see you again.
- Regular: Hey, Jerry, what’s new and exciting? [That’s my phrase, when the guy next to me asks, that means we’ve had more than one beer together in the past]
- Fixture: [immediately starts talking about something mutually interesting, be it sports, politics, Vegas, or whatever]
- Fly: And then I said… [picks up conversation from where he fell off the stool last night, as if nothing happened]
To the unknown sitting next to you, you say:
- Unknown: studiously ignore
- Recognized: “Hey”
- Regular: “Her name’s Rose. She’ll be right back.”
- Fixture: [After listening in on conversation with the bartender] “You should try…”
- Fly: “Her name’s Rose. She rocks.”
At last call bartender says:
- Unknown: Last call.
- Recognized: Last call.
- Regular: Last call. Jerry, you want anything?
- Fixture: Last call. Are you coming out with us after we close here?
- Fly: [There is no last call]
When you decide to go in:
- Unknown: when you see the sign
- Recognized: When the urge strikes you
- Regular: When you know your favorite bartender is working – or your second favorite, or any of the ones you know
- Fixture: When you know your buddies will be there too, which is most of the time
- Fly: You can’t come in if you never leave
It is possible to be a regular without sitting at the bar. While it is possible, it is not easy to become a fixture without sitting at the bar. I managed to pull this off through many years of sitting at a table writing. It is not part of the Accelerated Regularization System(tm). You cannot be a fly from a table.
When in San Diego, I have a favorite bar I started going to the week they opened, fifteen years ago. Triska and I had our wedding shower there. During my ‘married’ phase I didn’t get in so often, but I was still regular. When I began writing in earnest I started going in very often, and became, more or less, the laptop guy. One day, I went in with some friends. I waited at the “Please wait to be seated” sign, and Hope just pointed me to my usual table, then stopped short when she realized that there were other people with me. “Oh! You have friends!” she said. In retrospect, I think that was confirmation of my fixturehood. (Melinda, you might be interested to know that Hope is largely responsible for how much sex there is in Rio Blanco.)
As far as accelerating your regularization, there are two really, really, important things. Learn your bartenders’ names, and make sure they learn yours. Of secondary importance is learning the names of the other regulars. Those who know me will not be surprised to hear that there are people I have sat next to on a barstool for years and I have no idea what their names are. But I know which ones will give me a good argument when I say “Raiders suck” or “George Bush is an idiot”.