“One in, one out.”
“Just doing my job.”
If you’ve been to a bar in a university town, you’ve surely heard these words. The heroic talk is that of everyone’s favourite vigilante: the bouncer.
Who is the bouncer? His mission is to herd eager young drinkers into organized mayhem. Pick your bar night and find him outside Jack’s, Jim Bob’s or The Ceeps, patrolling rows of short skirts, flipped collars, Live Strong bracelets, and my personal favourite — the moccasin-inspired Ugg boots.
The brave, brawny bouncer runs a tight ship. Try to butt in line with a friend and you’ll end up on the wrong side of the velvet rope. Think you can slip through the door with a bottle of Bohemian in your pocket? Watch as Mr. Bouncer empties it onto the asphalt. Unless you’re the type who likes showing off cuts and bruises from your weekend “gong show,” don’t even dream of starting a fight in line.
It doesn’t take Ken Jennings to know a bouncer’s job is to keep underagers out of the bar and money flowing in.
Why is it that a bouncer’s job description has expanded to include making snide remarks, giving friends preferential treatment, keeping people out when the bar is nowhere near capacity, and allowing people in when the bar is well above capacity?
Gone are the days when honest, hard working offensive linemen or stay-at-home defencemen protected the innocent in bar lines to earn a few extra bucks between team games and practices.
Sure, some of these noble souls still exist, but like TV sitcoms and John Travolta’s career, they are on the verge of extinction. The new breed of bouncer is the power junkie: the stalky, red-faced creatine freak who needs to put down others to feel good about himself and tarnishes the name of the few remaining throwback bouncers.
One particular incident signaled for me the end of the glory era.
T.J. Baxter’s. The name doesn’t exactly call to mind the “bumpin’” club atmosphere that demands bouncer presence; T.J. Baxter’s is where you take your parents for lunch on Saturday afternoon, when your mom tries to do your laundry and your dad marvels at how “T.J.’s must be a hot spot at night, eh?”
In other words, T.J. Baxter’s isn’t the kind of place where bouncers need to get violent. The staff emphatically disagreed a few Saturdays ago, however, when they threw a friend of mine down the stairs after he took too long to finish a drink after last call — a drink the bartender chose to serve after 2 a.m.
Where does this unprovoked behaviour come from? Playing psychiatrist, I diagnose this bouncer breed with one hell of an inferiority complex. Maybe their dreams of being donut-eating cops went out the window long ago; maybe they didn’t cut it for the WWE; maybe they just have tiny penises.
Regardless of what underlies bouncers’ psychological problems, we need a cure, and that cure is love. Does a 300-pound guy with a GT’s sweatshirt have his hands around your throat? Tell him he’s special. Cuddle him. Compliment him on how well he’s “just doing his job.”
Sure, I’m probably bitter because GT’s confiscated my leather jacket in 2003, then gave it away to an impostor. Nevertheless, we must understand bouncers for the vulnerable souls they really are if we ever want to bring about change.