It doesn’t seem to matter where you are; a small group of drunks can poison the atmosphere of a place for everyone. Whether it’s a bar on San Pablo Avenue in Berkeley, an Upper East Side hangout in New York, a Berlin kneipe, or the Rooftop Bar in Saigon the effect is the same; it turns a good time in a good place into a tooth grinding disappointment. At the moment my pick for the most obnoxious group of drunks in the world goes to Vietnamese businessmen. That’s because I’ve had two spoiled evening meals in less than a week because of them.
I like the Rooftop Bar at the Hotel Rex in Saigon. It’s an old hotel and the open air bar is a little dated. It’s not the glitzy Caravelle or the brand new Sheraton. It has a well worn feel and it’s notorious for being the place the army brass went to drink and watch the fireworks during the “American War.” There’s a canvas canopy covering the center tables in case of rain but the edge is ringed with tall tables and high stools where you can look out over the hedge at the traffic on the divided boulevard below.
For the second time this week my evening was spoiled by a table of 8 or 10 grown men in white shirts standing across the table from each other trying to shout each other down. It’s not as if you can ignore 10 grown men shouting at the top of their lungs. I didn’t. I finished my beer and left, but I left a gorgeous cool evening in great surroundings because I couldn’t stand the doltish behavior of grown men who should know better. I’ve seen the same thing in all of the places I mentioned but there is something especially annoying about the behavior when it starts to become the norm in a place. This was my third similar experience in less than a month. I’m not perfect. I committed the same sin a few times years ago, but I wasn’t a grown man in business attire. Still, it does serve as a reminder that we can all do better.