Tuesday, December 28, 2010

COLUMN: VanDerGinst Pt. 2

It's been confirmed: I am now officially a Local Celebrity of Great Importance.

I've been trying to tell you people this for years -- and now I've finally got the proof. Two weeks ago, yours truly was a celebrity bartender at the 2010 VanDerGinst Holiday Bash. I have officially reached the big time. Soon, I will be rubbing shoulders with the upper eschelon of local celebrity icons. Look out, Paula Sands. Step aside, Mary from Good's. Heads up, Orby the Super Van Man. Say it ain't so, Dave Necker. There's a new kid in town.

Actually, I'm guessing our important columnists were busy because offers like this do NOT routinely land on my desk. But land it did, and who am I to deny a charitable event the splendor of my presence? Ergo, I accepted their offer, and my girlfriend and I prepared for a long winter's night of bartending and celebrity-ing.

Too bad I know absolutely nothing about bartending and even less about being a celebrity. We'd have to wing all that. The first step was to get ready for the event, a process so epic and time-consuming in nature that it required LAST week's column to report in detail. If you happened to read that, you already know the skinny:

Our last-minute invite caused a last-minute panicked dash to the stores for ANYTHING we could refer to as "formalwear." As I detailed last week, our trek to one of the big box stores ended with my girlfriend in tears and me seething with rage, thanks to The Rudest Store Clerk Ever. For the first time in the history of Shane, I was mad enough to complain to a manager.

The clerk who handled my complaint got on a little walkie-talkie and asked for a manager because "there's an L.O.D. situation." The manager who came up was super nice and apologetic and got our day back on track, but days later, I still can't help but wonder just what "L.O.D." stands for. "Livid Old Dummy?" "Loud Obstinant Diva?" I'm gonna go with "Lively Original Dude Whom It Was A Pleasure To Assist" but they just didn't want to say L.O.D.W.I.W.A.P.T.A. on the walkie.

Regardless, it was time to stop being a LODWIWAPTA and start being a celebrity. We got to the party with plenty of time to spare and --

Wait. I need to backtrack one last time. One of the advantages of being an acclaimed celebrity is that I can now name-drop the other celebrities I know, and I'm pals with local radio guy Red Hot Brian Scott. I had heard on the radio that Red Hot was doing the announcements at the Bash, so I shot him a fun celebrity-to-celebrity text message, something like "TURNS OUT I'M CLBRTY BRTNDING 2NITE. CYA THERE. NEED A HAND?"

I was expecting some kind of "LOL" hob-knobbing response (like we famous people do.) Instead I get: "YES! NEED DJ FOR END OF NITE. CAN U DO IT?!?!" Like that, I was celebrity bartending AND celebrity DJ'ing. The things I do for charity...

So my girlfriend and I get to the event and it's a splendid affair of holiday merriment, fancy dresses, and boatloads of money being raised for a good cause. My fears were alleviated early on, as it turns out that I wasn't celebrity bartending so much as celebrity drink-handing-to-people. Our station served only one flavor of martini, professionally mixed by real bartenders. My job was to take the drink and hand it to the customers while they lined up in hordes for the honor of meeting someone as famous and engaging as myself.

Only one problem: No one there had any clue who I was. Let's face it, the aged photo that runs next to my column is almost a decade old and looks nothing like me. And as I was a late confirmation, my name was missing from all signs and schedules. As I stood there proudly, I realized that I was no celebrity; I was just Some Dude Behind A Bar, a face-less unpaid employee. Awesome.

Still, it was for a great cause, so we soldiered on and had fun with it. Mostly we had fun watching people walk right on by. Eventually, a woman sauntered up to the bar. And nnnnnope, she had no clue who I was. Still, we had fun chatting and I perfectly executed my drink-handing task without fail. I was beaming with pride -- until the REAL bartender a minute later goes, "Wait, did you get her money?"

That's right, I think I'm the only celebrity bartender in history to COST the charity six bucks. I went to re-pay the till from my own celebrity pocket when I realized that, in the rush to get ready, the one thing I DIDN'T remember was cash. Right before my shift ended, the same woman came up for another drink, and this time I got her money. What I DIDN'T get, though, was her drink. While I was turning to execute my drink-handing task, she absent-mindedly picked up the drink already on the table and sauntered off. The drink the bartender mixed as a sample some two hours prior. So let's recap my performance as a celebrity bartender: I give one drink away for free, then charged a customer for a 2-hour-old stale room-temperature martini. I am CERTAIN to get asked back next year.

Eventually, my shift was over and I was replaced by KWQC anchor Jessica Tighe (super nice) and meteorologist Greg Dutra (also super nice, and bonus points for looking like Fred Savage from "The Wonder Years.") Suddenly, a flock of people showed up wanting THEIR martinis.

My girlfriend hob-knobbing with the other celebrity bartenders. She's the one NOT on KWQC.

I must say, my stint as celebrity DJ went far better than bartending. Red Hot didn't miss any opportunity to give me grief, adding more and more faux accolades to my name every time he announced me. I believe I went from "columnist Shane Brown" to "nationally syndicated columnist Shane Brown" (lie) to finally "Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Shane Brown" (biiig lie.) By the end of the night, it was how it should be: shirt and tie crumpled in a heap, t-shirt on, full dancefloor, laughing with friends, raising money for a fantastic cause. And one lone woman in the crowd came up and told me how much she liked reading this column, and that was all it took for me to have an amazing night.

I might make a lousy bartender, but I hope VanDerGinst invites me back next year. Maybe I can celebrity-park-cars or something.

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