Banned! or, How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love 'Face's Tavern'
Most of my tours are great. I meet wonderful people, I have a fantastic time myself, and leave with a warm glow that I just made someone's vacation one to remember. However, occasionally, we have a Pub Tour Gone Wrong. One in particular still stands out.
There are certain tours absolutely loathed by tour guides; and business groups are at or near the top of the list. These groups frequently show up for tour already pretty-well lit.
One particular group three years ago arranged for a private tour. They explained that they were software people from Cincinatti, and needed an earlier tour time. For what I considered to be the the right price, I agreed. I was to learn shortly that I had asked for far, far too little. The group was a party of eleven, and nine of the tourgoers were men. Even before the tour began, I was pulled aside by one of the members of the party, and the guy requested that I make fun of his boss, an already red-faced fellow named Ed. When I asked why, expecting a buddy-buddy answer, the guy responded, “Well, he’s sort of a big drunk jerk.” This set the tone for the evening. I later found out that this group had been drinking since around three in the afternoon, so they had a four-hour head-start on me... and they were rowdy drunks.
Bossman Ed looked me over with glassy eyes, surveying the wool uniform, and mumbled, “Any guy who wears an outfit like that can do a shot with me.” My hard-and-fast rule for myself is ‘no shots while on the tour’. I really want to be coherent, but Ed wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. This was the first of many shots for me that evening, and as the night went on it became easier for me to disregard that rule because, well, frankly, I was miserable.
My first story was a disaster. I tried to tell them the history of the old building in which we started, but they weren’t interested in history. Ed’s eyes got even glassier. I remember thinking, "I'm in Hell."
They wound up making up their own ghost story. I don't remember the particulars, but I know that the phrases “dripping blood” and “bloodcurdling SCREAM” were featured prominently, and they seemed to be much happier once I started down that route, as well. I figured I was in for a rough evening, and it was confirmed when one of the guys yelled “boo” to scare one of the ladies on tour. It got worse, though—far, far worse.
The next pub we visited was the Olde Pink House, a fine dining establishment. I told a quick ghost story outside (I gritted my teeth the whole time, and did something I HATE-- I made up a story on the spot—one of a headless murdering phantom), and they absolutely loved it. One fellow pulled his shirt over his head and yelled, “I’m the ghost!” And here is where the tour went seriously wrong: the group wanted to go downstairs into the tavern for a beverage. The Pink House is fine dining, and a drunken rabble like the ones I was leading that particular night would not be viewed kindly by the staff or the diners, some of whom were wearing tuxedoes and sequined dresses. I wanted to just move on, but they were all dry and wanted to stop. I warned them to not make too much noise, and just creep downstairs into the tavern via the outside stairs if they wanted a drink. They promised to behave. I reminded them that it was fine dining. They said, “A quick drink and we’ll be right back.” And here is where I made the worst mistake of my pub tour career: I believed them.
Long story short? This is the reason I am banned from the Olde Pink House. Others can look back on things they regret and usually find a perspective of, "Well, I meant well." I have no such excuse. I knew better, and did it anyway. The group got booted from the restaurant, and I got firmly admonished by the manager, who happened to be a friend of mine (I am still apologizing to her nearly three years later!). Fortunately, our friendship survived.
After we left (were tossed from?) the Pink House, we were also booted from the 17Hundred90, as well. Let me just say that I've seen fistfights that needed less policing than this group. And then they informed me that they wanted to go to River Street. "But the tour goes this way," I offered weakly. "Drinks," Ed informed me, "Are THIS way."
The Riverfront was two blocks from the 17Hundred90. Halfway there, the group was out of alcohol and began to complain. I informed them that we just had another block to go, and I was told to shut up and lead them to alcohol. And that's where I turned into pure, unadulterated evil.
In life, there are rules of thumb: Never annoy a cop. Never mess with someone preparing your food. And we can add a new one to the list: Never insult your tour guide. Especially when you are drunk, don't know the city, and are basically at his mercy.
Oh yes, I knew of a great bar. As a matter of fact, they should head right inside and meet a few of the locals. Especially the bartender... if he liked you sometimes he would give you free drinks! That was all the group needed to hear... they rushed inside. I, however, said I would wait right outside on the sidewalk. Heh. Yeah, sure I would. I would wait just like Patton waited for Monty at the Rhine.
You've probably guessed already that I didn't wait for them. I had had enough abuse for one night. So yes, I ditched them. The part you haven't probably guessed, though, is that I ditched them at a gay bar.
Three years later, I still don't feel bad.
Tour disclaimer: not all pub tours wind up with the patrons being ditched at a gay bar. Tour group being ditched at a gay bar subject to availability.