I started tending bar in L.A. in the early 70s and I’ve saved up $48.17 for retirement, after health costs. I’m very interested in your entry level opportunity.

You already know me, actually, as the guy who supposedly gave one Mr. William (Billy) Joel “drinks for free” at the bar where he held the functional title of “Piano Man.” (We didn't say “Piano Person/People/Persons” or “Person with Piano” back then. Sorry.)

If you’ve heard Billy brag about this free-drink gig one or two or a trillion times, surely you’ve wondered: would John-at-the-Bar be a trustworthy employee? Would he adhere to the corporate handbook? Yes, yes I would, future boss who is 22.

Allow me to suggest that Billy's claims might not hold up under scrutiny.

First off, my name is Jonathan. No one called me John, except Billy Joel. So were we really even friends?

“John, you ever been to Long Island?”

“Hey John,” he’d yell across the room, so everyone could hear, “what’s the matter with the clothes I’m wearing?”

Often there was, in fact, something the matter with the clothes he was wearing, and he made it impossible to be discreet. His pants were on backwards, or his tie was too tight, which obstructed the passage of air to his brain. That was the time he couldn’t find Pennsylvania on a map from a starting point of Allentown.

Around mid-Watergate, he added “at-the-Bar.”

“Did history start the fire, John-at-the-Bar, or was the fire burning, before the world was churning?”

John-at-the-Bar. Like I was some British Barrister analyzing the Magna Carta, not a frustrated actor peeling vomit off the counter from drinks we stupidly called “loneliness” because no one knew about branding and marketing then. (You may know the drink by the current name, Sex on the Beach.)

Of course I wanted to get out of that shithole. Wouldn't you? Did I tell Billy it was killing me as the smile went away from my face? I mean, quite possibly. That was before Prozac. But it doesn’t prove I gave him free drinks.

What’s Prozac, you ask? Take micro-dosing and go back to Lexapro then another step or two back to Prozac and then back to macro-dosing, which is where we were at the time. Sorry. Dating myself again.

To be clear, with the wisdom of age I also accept the possibility that I may not be a movie star, so schedule me whenever, at least for now. Unless you happen to know someone who does content for Netflix?

“John-at-the-Bar, you think I could date a model? I really love models. Because they’re so hot.”

Again, I did not get Billy drinks for free. Not once. If you hire me, I will comply with your loss prevention policy. Whatever employee discount you have is just enough to make people forget for a while they are underpaid and undervalued, but no more. You are 20 years old and a billionaire, so you can do that calculation really fast.

Billy was entitled to the same 15% discount as the rest of us. And, hand to God, that’s what he got. We didn’t really like getting Billy too many drinks anyway. At times there were sartorial consequences. Too many, and his “New York State of Mind” would come out: maudlin, hollowed out, each to their own, almost bankrupt. We could go ahead with our own lives and leave him alone, until another question occurred to him.

When Billy's ship came in, would some girl see what kind of guy he’d been? Would she be smoking hot? And a model, so everyone would know she was smoking hot?

If someone promised him more than the Garden of Eden, did that mean the regular Garden of Eden, but the Eve character was really hot? And a model?

One thing Billy said was dead on, though. I was quick with a joke, and still am. Knock-knocks, chickens crossing roads, people changing lightbulbs, you name it. Your customers will get a bartender pun-dit.

Here’s an example I’m particularly proud of, circa 1973:

“Knock-knock. Who’s there. Ya. Ya-who? An internet services company that will form in 20 years and make billions before being overtaken in the digital economy!”

Yahoo way before your time you say? Sorry. I thought you might be 30. Didn’t mean to insult you. How about this one:

“A real estate novelist, a member of the armed services, and a person who should be a rising politician but for entrenched sexism and lack of access to funds and who is instead a waitress walk into a bar, and the Piano Man asks, why the Long Island face? ”

We’re out of time?

Hey, did I mention I knew Billy Joel and maybe I could get him to stop by your bar if you hire me?


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