I loathe the ad hominem argument — the “argument against the person.”
But, sometimes, you just have to make an exception and use it.
This is one of those times.
Every bar has one. You know, the guy who bellies up to the best seat – the one who makes sure to get there first and then sticks around to close the place down. He’s got the best view of the whole joint but, more importantly, everyone has a great view of him.
He’s the guy that can get your attention with that resonant baritone that carries so well – even in the loudest din. When necessary, he can easily ratchet it up from 60 decibels (noise at a fairly crowded restaurant) to 120 decibels (a thunderclap or a typical rock concert). Our guy is a natural-born blowhard with all the tools necessary for the task. He’s got the pipes, the easy affability, and he knows that these gifts, being God-given, are his duty to use.
And he uses them non-stop. He’s a wind-up machine, a veritable talking robot. No one knows for sure what keeps him going. Maybe it’s just part of the ineffable about what sustains this mouth-machine. It’s not alcohol or anything artificial that induces his ramblings. Our guy doesn’t need his tongue to be loosened with anything but a rapt audience – even when the audience is only the bartender. However, the bigger the crowd, the more bombastic and stylistic the performance.
A creature quite closely resembling this special breed of barfly is the radio talk show personality. Who else has the ability to get up everyday and do nothing but talk? Granted that radio talk show hosts usually have staffs who give them material to stimulate their instincts. In that sense, they may have slightly less talent than the script-less barfly; but they more than make up for that deficiency by their ability to turn their talent into a full-time job. What we have here is a slight difference in nomenclature. On the one hand we have barflicium uninterruptus gratis and, on the other hand, barflicium uninterruptus lucre.
One thing that you never want to do to either barfly species is interrupt it during the middle of a soliloquy (of course, almost everything spoken is soliloquous). If you do happen to make this innocent mistake, be forewarned. The first thing will happen is an uncomfortable pause followed by a re-doubling of the volume. “WHAT? NO? YOU”VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME? NOW LET ME GET BACK TO WHAT I WAS SAYING.” And then, one of two things happens, as follows: the interrupter separates and backs away, or a fight breaks out. In most cases, people tend to just move away, shake their heads, and continue to let the verbal barrage continue. For the people who have a sense of propriety about themselves, they either walk out of the bar or change the tuning dial.
Now, about the best of the best – the world-class-millionaire-radio-talk-show-gasbags. Maybe these jokers are entitled to their own special sub-species name, let’s say barflicium uninterruptus lucre grande. Distinguished by the degree to which they have perfected the art of pompous and mindless yakking, they are indeed in rarefied air. They are not just the bum at a bar; they have added ammo – microphones and well-heeled patron sponsors. Large corporate/political types actually pay big money to this barfly sub-species so that they can broadcast their noise pollution over the public airwaves. Some sub-species are known to received 25 – 50 million in annual compensation for their bloviating. If you’ve got the talent, it’s amazing what good Arbitron ratings can do for you.