Dear Museum Tavern,
I am writing to describe my experience on the afternoon of Friday May 25, 2018 at 3:45 p.m. at your establishment.
All day I had planned for it. I was going to leave work early and go to happy hour. I was going to walk. The weather was the kind you wish for every young brides wedding. It was glorious, I took pictures. I practically cried with the beauty of it all.
I was even going to save my daily online poker game for Museum Tavern, the way I had in the past used their WiFi to stream Steven Colbert segments on YouTube. I had it all. Planned. Out.
Then, at quarter to happy hour, I pranced into the bar area, skin glowing from a walk in the summer sun, choose a seat from the ones that were still available (all of them, the joint was empty) and made myself comfortable. Pulling out my credit card, I was here for it!
Then he enters the story. He was a man working as a bartender at hip spot in Toronto. At first glance, he had a ready smile and startled eyes. Because I am a legal transcription typist, I will provide a transcript of our conversation as I remember it.
Me, sighing with joy at the splendor of it all/ being alive: Hiiiiiiiii
Me: It’s so beautiful out, have you been out?
Him: Do I look like I’ve been out?
Me: Well, it’s early yet.
Him: That’s true
Him: I’m stuck in here
Me, with joy: It’s cool in here!
Him: Not if you are here 40 hours a week
Me: …I like it here…?
Him: You would say that about your job?
Me, getting bored: …yes, but I was always talk to speak positively and not complain. Always talk “up”.
Him, trying: but yeah, the weather is nice. If it was like this all the time I would be happy.
Me: But then you wouldn’t appreciate it. It’s like living at the ocean-
Him: I’M FROM NOVA SCOTIA AND I SPENT FOUR YEARS IN AUSTRALIA SO THAT NEGATES EVERYTHING YOU WERE ABOUT TO SAY.
Me, loving a good debate: So, you went to the ocean everyday?
Him, pauses, caught: I did in Australia.
Me: And in Nova Scotia?
Him, stunned: …I…I lived…I lived 1 block…from the…from the…
Me, gracefully giving him the out: Well, it’s an island. Ocean on all sides, right?(Laughs)
Me: It’s like Niagara Falls for people in Ontario-
Him: I FUCKING HATE ONTARIO. IT’S A SHITHOLE.
Him: THIS IS THE WORST PROVINCE NEXT TO NEW BRUNSWICK. YOU CAN’T BREATHE THE AIR!
ME, stunned, looking around: …
Him: …are you here for happy hour?
Me, relieved he stopped shouting: I sure am!
Him: Well, it starts at 4.
Me, still relieved: Okay!
Me: What about quarter to 4 drinks at happy hour prices?
Him: No, it’s computerized.
Me: (reading menu)
Him, sneering: You think you are the first to think of that, girl?
It was the cool, practiced and intended-to-insult introduction of the word “girl” that tripped my conscious brain and red flagged this silly little jabroni. I will turn 40 this year. I have tits and ass and lips and eyes. It’s ma’am and Ms. for me all day long. While I remain everything, I am certainly no longer a girl.
Him: SO WHAT? YOU LIKE ONTARIO WITH ITS SUPERFICIAL BULLSHIT AND ALL THE ISSUES WITH THE LCBO? I CANT EVEN ORDER A BOTTLE.
ME, unsure what he’s talking about: …you could move?
Him: BUT THE MONEY IS HERE, ISN’T IT?
Me: Oh I see, Ontario has all the money…
A male server arrived to place his drink orders. He was nice, obviously uncomfortable with the bartender’s behavior.
HIM: This girl likes Ontario and I told her it’s a SHITHOLE!!!
Male Server: …you could move?
Him, quickly changing the subject to stay in control: Can you imagine what would happen if I bent the rules for you? What kind stampede it would cause?
Me, gesturing to the completely empty bar: No.
Male Server: (laughs)
Him: Yes, because they know to COME AT 4pm!
Male Server: (exits)
Him: [something about Ontario too boring to remember]
Me, gently, seriously: Is there another bartender?
Him: Here he comes!
A different male pivots quickly through the bar looking for something.
Him: SHE’S MAD BECAUSE I TOLD HER ONTARIO IS AN ABSOLUTE SHITHOLE!!!
2nd male, over his shoulder: ONTARIO IS A SHITHOLE AND I’VE BEEN HERE FOR 12 YEARS!!!
Him and the 2nd male proceed to laugh directly at me for more than 10 seconds in a way that was intended to humiliate me. It wasn’t really that funny but it was intended to humiliate me.
And it worked!
Me, to myself inside my head: I don’t want to spend any of my enormous amounts of money here.
No sooner had the thought moved through my pretty little head than he shouted (to no one? to everyone? to the empty void where his soul should be?) to the 2nd male who was now in the middle of the dining room:
“LOOK! SHE WANTS TO LEAVE NOW BECAUSE I DON’T LIKE ONTARIO” (Extremely loud laughter)
You see, that is how a hunter hunts his prey. He stays laser focused on their every nuance so as to never ever lose control. At this point, I realize I am in danger and need to leave. My heart sinks, my perfect afternoon utterly ruined. My rage rises to meet my throat.
Realizing he has overplayed his hand, he rushes over. Looking into his glassy eyes, I realize the startled look is actually mania: This man is clearly insane.
Him: Okay, let’s talk about why you like Ontario so much…
What a total goddamn insult to my intelligence. If nothing else, this must confirm that he thinks women are functionally retarded. Leaving aside how ludicrous it is that I would want to exchange any information with an ugly little pissant like him on the subject of, of all things, the province of Ontario, do you see what he is really doing? He wants to maintain control of the conversation while appearing to give a shit. Countless women must (do) fall for it.
Me, grabbing my purse: Your vibe is hitting me like a ton of bricks and I have to go.
And then quieter, to myself, “I was really looking forward to this…”
Him, seemingly happy: Yeah! Okay! (laughs) sure yeah…
Not: I’m sorry
Not: You are right, I am going through some stuff and need professional help.
Not: You deserve to patronize this bar in peace, let me quit right now and then go kill myself.
All would have been acceptable responses in my current mood.
Then I went to a different bar, got drunk with the hot, hilarious bartender there and left a huge tip. Simple.
Museum Tavern, I am sorry to be the bearer of terrible news but you are the hatchery of a certain type of toxic masculinity known as malignant narcissism, and it will ultimately destroy your business. Because it always does. Because of course it does. It is important to know that I am not special, Museum Tavern. He would have – and does – do this with every female he meets. This is a fact. He finds his prey and attacks and attacks and attacks until he has eaten her alive. You can not train this out of a man with effective leadership. He needs a plain old psychiatrist. It’s always that simple and always that impossible.
While I’m a little bit angry, I am most worried. On his current track, this man will eventually kill a woman. I’m not being dramatic, you know I’m right. The reason I can be so confident is because my uncle was a malignant narcissist and he eventually stabbed his wife to death on the front lawn. That’s how it happens; first verbal attacks then physical then rape (marital or otherwise) then murder. It’s a spectrum. No one just “snaps”. Ask around: are women often crying in his presence? I was. He made we want to cry in under 5 minutes. Is his girlfriend bruised? I’m emotionally bruised, does that count?
Goodbye, Museum Tavern. I will miss you. But I will take better aim next time.
Readers Note: All of the events happened as I have stated in the order as I remember them. Responses received may be posted to the internet for my friends to laugh at.