When I read a comic book called "Thief of Thieves" by Robert Kirkman, I cannot understand the scene below:

The man is drinking alone at the bar counter and seems deep in thought. And the woman, who was asked by him to meet at the bar, comes and says "Okay, I don't really care how deep you are in that Frank Sinatra at the bar act...you're still buying." They are kind of friends (although their relationship is much more complicated, I just say they are friends to simplify the context).

What does she mean by "that Frank Sinatra at the bar act"? I googled Frank Sinatra and bar but couldn't find other than this medley and Sinatra Piano Bar. Could someone help me with this?

  • From the Wikipedia page Early life of Frank Sinatra: Sinatra later recalled spending time at the bar, working on his homework and occasionally singing a song on top of the player piano for spare change. In context, obviously the woman means "Don't pretend you can't afford it. I expect you to pay for my drinks." Apr 23, 2017 at 12:22
  • 2
    The proper punctuation here should be: in that Frank-Sinatra-at-the bar act, where the entire phrase modifies act. An act means a way of behaving here.
    – Lambie
    Apr 23, 2017 at 14:42
  • 1
    what @Lambie said. you could also use quotes: "that 'Frank Sinatra at the bar' act. "Act" meaning performance.
    – user175542
    Apr 23, 2017 at 18:27
  • Thank you for a helpful comment! I didn't realize "Frank-Sinatra-at-the bar" modifies the act.
    – E. Brice
    Apr 23, 2017 at 23:39

2 Answers 2


Below is the typical, melancholic image that many Frank Sinatra fans carry of him: sitting at a bar in a trilby hat, a lighted cigarette in one hand, and the perennial glass of hard liquor in the other. Despite the forlorn gaze, Frank Sinatra was one of the best-paid performers in his day, and could easily afford to pay for a couple of drinks.

This image shows the cover of a the Frank Sinatra vinyl record entitled No One Cares, which was published by Capitol Records in 1959. It pictures Frank Sinatra at a bar, surrounded by customers who are oblivious to him. He is resting his cheek in one hand, with his elbows on the bar, and casting down a glum look at the drink he is holding in his other hand.

The line, the Frank Sinatra at the bar act is an original expression, created by the author to suit his specific needs and purposes. The writer could have used hyphens, as suggested by @Lambe in the comments, or used single quotes for clarity. Why he didn't is anyone's guess.

I don't really care how deep you are in that ‘Frank Sinatra at the bar’ act... you're still buying.”

One of the numerous meanings of the noun act cited by Longman Dictionary is the following

3. (Noun) insincere behaviour in which you pretend to have a particular kind of feeling or to be a particular kind of person, e.g. Mike played the loving husband in front of the children but it was all an act.

Collins has

7. (Noun) a show of feeling or behavior that is not sincere and is put on just for effect
- There were moments when I wondered: did she do this on purpose, was it all just a game, an act?

  • 1
    In this case, a picture does paint a thousand words. +1 and more, if I could, for bringing back pleasant memories.
    – Centaurus
    Apr 23, 2017 at 13:01
  • A picture is worth a thousand words and this may just be enough, although I'd recommend adding a description of what putting on an act means, expressing how pitiable he looks and suggesting that somebody putting on that act may be seeking to get a free drink out of pity, just to be sure.
    – Tonepoet
    Apr 23, 2017 at 19:03
  • @Tonepoet hi, thanks for the description of the alternative text image by the way. I think Gary's answer gives a decent background check, and actually I thought the image would support his answer. Although I don't think "functioning alcoholic" is relevant in this case... Ol' Blue Eyes wasn't always glum, but the citation suggests that the protagonist was feeling a bit low and wasn't putting on an act, maybe he did have serious concerns
    – Mari-Lou A
    Apr 23, 2017 at 19:27
  • @Mari-LouA Oh, I am not so concerned with Sinatra, as I am the characters in the Thief of Thieves quotation provided by our questioner for us to interpret. Perhaps I'm reading too deeply into it, but to me it seems like the woman's allusion to this cover in conjunction with the word "act" and insistence that the man is "still buying" implies a sort of suspiciousness on her part, at least in jest.
    – Tonepoet
    Apr 23, 2017 at 19:47
  • @Tonepoet it could be said in a jocular tone, maybe she was teasing him? There's not enough dialogue to go on. The OP will know if the phrase was uttered in a suspicious, weary, or tongue-in-.cheek way.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Apr 23, 2017 at 19:53

Frank Sinatra was termed by some a functioning alcoholic:

Frank Sinatra was a functioning alcoholic, who went cold turkey on his love of booze and cigarettes in the weeks running up to recording sessions to save his voice...We gathered information that, from the mid-40s on, he was really seriously abusing the booze, and, even in his later life, drinking a bottle of Jack Daniels a day. 

(Contact Music)

The daily beast elaborates in the article How Frank Sinatra drank American Whiskey His Way:

While Sinatra famously liked to enjoy a glass of whiskey (especially on stage)...Long before he was hanging out in Vegas and Palm Springs with Dean Martin, Peter Lawford, Joey Bishop and Sammy Davis Jr., Sinatra was quite comfortable inside a bar and learned at an early age the allure of liquor. That’s because he literally grew up inside a speakeasy...During Prohibition his father, Marty Sinatra, ran a joint in their hometown of Hoboken, New Jersey...It was also in his family’s bar that an eight-year-old Sinatra launched his career singing for the patrons when he wasn’t shining their shoes. His affinity for watering holes continued well after Repeal.

The phrase in your passage is referring to the fact that the character in question was sitting on their own at a bar drinking alcohol, a trait many would consider (rightly or wrongly) a sign of some kind of alcohol dependency. From your explanation of the relationship between the two characters it appears to have been said in jest, so is not necessarily pejorative.

The use of the word 'act' reinforces the playful use of the phrase, the woman indicating she doesn't believe this behaviour comes naturally to the male character.

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