Fresh on the heels of Independence Day Weekend, you had to know that I was going to come away with a truck load of fodder for this column. As always, the best and brightest society has to offer did not disappoint. After observing humanity at its best on and around the holiday that is as much an amateur night as New Year’s Eve and St. Patrick’s Day, I feel inexplicably compelled to throw out some helpful hints. In the past few years, I’ve written you a few tutorials on how not to behave when on vacation, and more specifically, in a bar. It’s basically just a public service announcement to help keep you from being instantly loathed by the person who stands between you and your next drink. If you’re still not picking up on it, that person would be your bartender.

Some of these I’ve mentioned before and are just a review, and some are brand new. All however are based on my own personal observations. Before I get rolling, let me quickly address the 2 or 3 of you still hazing me about my blatant refusal to ‘drink the Kool Aid’ that is World Cup soccer. Lighten up; I’m a humorist, not a journalist.

Now on with the lesson. Some of you may be guilty of some of these things and not even realize it, so I’m just here to help. Let’s start right from the beginning when you walk in the door. If you grab a fistful or 2 of after dinner mints as soon as you walk in the front door and start shoveling them down your throat before you’ve even been greeted (let alone spent a nickel) rest assured you have already been judged. You my friend are starting out in a very deep hole. You will have to be the model bar customer here-to-fore just to get back to even at the end. It’s been my experience (and please feel free to ask EVERY bartender and server you’ll ever meet), that nothing good follows that. I go to greet you as you take a seat, you resemble a chipmunk with a face full of chocolate and mint, and I’m scooping up a heaping pile of plastic wrappers off the bar before you can even speak? That’s a terrible way to start.

Speaking of the greeting process, let’s clear up the perpetually befuddling item known as the bev nap. This, for those of you who never worked in the restaurant business, is the small, square napkin with the name and logo of the establishment that I place on the bar in front of you as I greet you. I understand it is a confusing concept, but I put that there to place your drink on. Call it a coaster if you will, you may even have them in your own home. It is NOT a hammock for your cellular device which you were too discourteous to turn the ringer off upon your arrival. It is NOT something to clean the lenses of your ridiculously overpriced sunglasses that you still have on hours after the sun has set. It is NOT for you to spit your gum in and then toss back on the bar. And it most certainly is NOT for you to blow your nose in and place back on the bar. If you are one of the people disgusting enough to do this due to allergies, a common cold, or your extracurricular activities, put it in your damn pocket. If you are foul enough to do this, make no mistake, I WILL call you out on it and humiliate you. I wouldn’t tolerate that from my 2 year old daughter, and I damn sure won’t take it from a grown man. The difference is that my 2 year old daughter would know better than to ever do something so gross.

And moving right along; “Miller Lite” is not a suitable answer to the question; “hi, how are you tonight?” Act like you’ve been around humans before and answer the question. If you spoke first and asked me how I was doing would you like it if my response was; “what do you want?” I’m guessing probably not. Treating me like a person is going to exponentially increase your odds of getting the same in return.

Now on to some wardrobe issues. I am anything but a slave to fashion, but I do tend to notice things. In fact, I may as well be an 80-year old resident of Boca Raton. I essentially dress for comfort and couldn’t care less what anyone else thinks. Anyone whom I actually care about impressing already shares my last name, and my address. It seems though, that each summer there is an official uniform for Ocean City evening wear, and sadly, it’s mostly amongst the men. Usually, by the end of June I have identified the official uniform enough to be comfortable writing about it.

I’ll now give you examples going back as far as 3 years which is as far back as my powers of retention allow me to go. Three years ago, the official uniform was one of those silly, Ed Hardy tee shirts simulating a tattoo, and jeans (even if it was 100 degrees). This tragically was usually accompanied by a fake tan and salt and pepper hair on guys attempting to pick up girls their own daughter’s age.

Two years ago was probably my favorite official summer uniform, only because guys would come in groups of 10 or 20, all wearing this and mistakenly thinking they were cool. Every single one of them would be wearing a skin tight, pastel colored V-neck, tee shirt. It looked like a giant Easter basket had a head-on collision with a Gay Pride parade. I guess it’s easier to just buy clothes that are way too small, than to go to the gym. Here’s a tip, if you’re old enough to drink, you shouldn’t be shopping at Baby Gap.

Last year’s official summer ‘overgrown little boy’s’ official uniform was baggy shorts, the skin tight horizontally striped tank top, and a hat on backwards that fit you roughly the same as Charlie Brown’s baseball cap. The thing that amazed me most is that these clowns would come in dressed like that accompanied by a very attractive young lady in a beautiful sun dress who obviously put time and effort into her hair, and overall appearance, only to have this D-bag next to her. Every time I witnessed this scenario, all I could think was how mad she must be at her father. And then I would smile thinking of the conversation that would ensue if he had shown up at my front door to pick up one of my daughters.

And finally, the official uniform of 2014. Now this is based on what I’ve seen so far and is actually painful for me to even speak of. So far, it’s been men 25-65 wearing shirts unbuttoned down to their solar plexus. This is a trend that I thought, or at least hoped, had died with disco. And yet there it is, right in front of me night after night. WHY?!! Why didn’t I pay more attention in school?!! I had to be a bartender, damn it!

Well, it appears that barring something Earth changing, next week’s subject matter is already on the table. I’ve only just scratched the surface here and I’m out of space, so I’ll pick up next week from right here.

Thanks for playing along. Until next week, Syd Nichols

Thoughts and input welcome;