Tag Archives: bartender

Smiley Face, Smiley Face, Kiss-y Face

12 Apr

Okay so just as a disclaimer, I am not someone who goes on dates and then totally talks shit about the person I went out with on the internet. For example, I went on this really awful date years ago after some guy essentially stalked me on Facebook and then spent an entire dinner staring at my chest and also thought it was funny that he went home with some girl who spelled her name the same way as me who was so plastered that she could hardly walk and I didn’t write about that. Could have but didn’t. Mostly because that guy scared me. But still. This one is funny though because it involves too many emojis and some good, old fashioned in person body-shaming. Every date needs a good dose of body-shaming, right? Wrong.

Anyway, I went on a date. That’s right. I did it. And it wasn’t even really my idea. I blame Jessy. (I don’t blame you Jessy, I swear! I love you!) So here’s the thing. I do not give my number out at work. Work for me is a professional place and not a place to get a date. Okay fine, fine, that’s not entirely accurate. So in the interest of full disclosure let me tell you this: my last boyfriend was a customer turned friend turned boyfriend and my boyfriend before him was my bartender. But he asked me out and I wasn’t working so I feel like maybe that one doesn’t even count. Right? Right. Anyway so now I have decided that work is a professional place and not a place to get a date. So now that we have that all sorted, it’s story time.

So there I was, at work. As an aside, I feel like I am basically always at work. In fact I am just getting dressed right now and my bra smells like the bar. Not like booze, but like whatever the bar is cleaned with and so now I am sitting at home at my desk smelling bar. So not only do I feel like I am always at work but now I take work home with me! It is in my clothes! Shit is insidious. As I was saying, there I was, at work. It was busy. I was running around, mixing things, giving people drinks and food, making the occasional wise crack. There were two dudes sitting at the end of the bar. One of them had been there drinking for hours. His friend had come only recently but that means nothing – unless someone tells me otherwise I generally figure they are coming from somewhere else. Hard and fast rule: never assume sobriety. Time passed and then as the two dudes were getting ready to leave the newer one – who oddly looked like the Hispanic version of an ex-boyfriend of mine from below the eyes and also had very well-kempt eyebrows which is a total red flag for me because my hair maintenance is, shall we say, lacking – looked over at me

Eyebrows: Can I have your number?
Me: I don’t give out my number at work.
Eyebrows: Well, what if I come back on your shift in two weeks and ask you again?
Me: I will tell you that I don’t give my number out at work.

I then smiled and walked away. Okay so here is the thing every once in a while I make the mistake of giving my number to someone when I am at work and it always ends up being a stupid decision. Seriously, no one has my number. I mean, some people do obviously but only people who need to have it. I don’t like having my number out there in the hands of The Public. Plus the dudes that ask for the bartender’s number are dudes I generally want nothing to do with. I made the mistake of giving my number to some guy in the fall because he was polite and sort of shocked me into it and I regretted it immediately. We went out one time. He tried to get me to take him home with me an hour into our date. I mean he was cute but not that cute and, obviously, was seriously lacking in charm. I not-so-nicely declined. (Sort of wrote about it here but only sort of. Shameless plug.)

When I came back to their area to check and see if they needed anything he had written his name, his number and a little smiley face (the first sign of things to come!) on a napkin and told me I should call. I shoved it into my pocket and forgot about it until the next day when I was sitting at my desk and felt this weird balled up thing poking me in the ass. I pulled it out. Phone number. I was chatting with my girl Jessy at the time and told her about it. She said something along the lines of

Text him! You need to get out there. Seriously. Stop being a hermit.

I don’t think she actually called me a hermit. I called myself a hermit. I told her I would think about it. And I did for long enough to put it somewhere where I wouldn’t throw it away and where my cats wouldn’t turn it into their newest toy. That somewhere was in the pocket of my backpack where I keep my favorite rock.

Fast forward a few eventful and not-so-sleep-filled nights. I worked a Friday night shift, woke up early the next morning to drive to Connecticut for a Bachelorette party, woke up the following morning for the bridal shower and a drive to Boston where I met my sister to give her my car, Jose, and then took a Lyft to Logan Airport for my flight to Iceland. I was sitting at the airport bar, drinking an overpriced glass of red wine and eating a veggie burger. It was not delicious. I went through my backpack in search of my journal and my rock. I came out with the phone number and decided that 25 minutes before boarding an international flight was the perfect time to send a text message to some dude I don’t know. We texted. It was stupid. I got on my plane.

ICELAND WAS AWESOME! We saw horses…I mean ponies…I mean horses; we walked behind one waterfall and climbed above another; we took a photo with a rainbow; we almost got washed to sea by an incredibly aggressive wave; we got caught in all the rain ever; we almost burned someone’s house down.Then we left.

I arrived back in Boston and was staying with my friend Emily. I decided that unless I heard from dude I was just going to let sleeping dogs lie. (I am not entirely sure that is the idiom that I was going for but whatever, I’m committing.) No sooner did I make this decision then I received the following text from Eyebrows:

Smiley face, smiley face, kiss-y face.

Obviously these were emojis and not words but I find it funnier to dictate them. So let’s just recap: I don’t know anything about this dude, we have never hung out and pretty much never really spoken, I wouldn’t have been able to pick him out in a line up if he hadn’t sent me a weird headshot and yet he sent me

Smiley face, smiley face, kiss-y face.

I didn’t know how to respond to that so I sent a question mark. Words are a thing I like. Words, the pile of poop emoji and that random salsa dancing lady. The occasional smiley face is okay but not until you know someone or if you say something you think might sound sort of dick and you feel the need to be clear about that fact that it wasn’t dick, it was actually smiley. Then you send a smiley. That way everyone is on the same page. Anyway this went on for a few days. Him sending me things I didn’t really understand, me asking him to elaborate, him thinking I was being funny, me being very frustrated and confused. My favorite part of it all was this following interaction (keep in mind that I know I was being an asshole and I felt really bad about it until I actually went on the date and then I didn’t feel bad at all so please hold on and you’ll understand):

Eyebrows (this said completely randomly): The sun is nice
Me: I’ve been in the car all day.
Me (upon realizing that I was probably being a dick for no reason at all): But it’s strong, that’s for sure
Eyebrows: Like me (strong arm emoji thing)

I just….yeah. I mean, he is a personal trainer so I had already used my powers of deductive reasoning to assume that he was strong before he sent me the strong arm emoji. But, you know, I guess some people don’t like to leave things to chance. Instead, they leave things to emojis. That is their prerogative. I decided right then and there that I was done. There were far too many emojis! But I am a pushover and a girl and am incapable of saying no to people and so when, like a week later, he texted to say he was going to be in my neighborhood and would I like to meet for a drink I said fine. I picked a spot I never go to that was in walking distance of my house. I walked over there, got a beer and sat down to read my magazine while I waited. He eventually showed up. And this is when shit got awesome.

Eyebrows: You know, sometimes when girls go out with personal trainers they think that they need to get in shape. (Meaningful eye contact.) But, you know, that’s not necessary. I mean, if you want to that’s cool but whatever. I don’t mind.

So keep in mind I had come from work. I was wearing disgustingly dirty shoes, a pair of jeans that are in a long, drawn-out process of disintegration and a sweatshirt. I could have had the most slamming body ever under my sweatshirt. I mean, I don’t, but I could. But he couldn’t know that. Unless he has x-ray vision which is unlikely but now the thought of it is making me rethink the entire interaction. I stared at him blankly. Basically the in-person look of what I had been doing over text message for the better part of the last week or so. But he wasn’t done! No! He had more!

Eyebrows: I want to get married. Do you want to get married?
Me: I mean, that’s kind of a weighty question but, I don’t know. It’s not really a priority of mine but I guess if it makes itself necessary I’m not opposed to it. Or if it is important to the person I end up with. So I guess I’m really neither here nor there on it.
Eyebrows: No, you want to get married. I can read you. I know your type.

Okay, so I have been told over and over again for my entire life that I am hard to read. I have also been told that I am in my head a lot. Both of these things are true. I over think everything. E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. So obviously I have given all kinds of deep thought about marriage, what it means, what it represents, how it can empower and disempower, and how a lot of times getting married is more about fitting within a socially accepted construct than anything else. That sometimes we don’t actually think through the things that we do because they are just the things that we do. We were raised to think they fit within a definition of success. No, the definition of success. Marriage represents the success of a relationship. No questions asked. That isn’t to say there is anything wrong with getting married. I am so excited for my friends who do it! Some of them are doing it in a few weeks and I get to officiate it and I cannot wait! The point is just that when I answer a question like that it isn’t just like some bullshit answer because I am in my 30s and not married so obviously I have to trick myself into not feeling like a failure at life in general by pretending it is a personal choice. I don’t have to pretend anything. I feel weird and complicated things about myself + marriage. But apparently he knew my type. I laughed. He asked what I was laughing about. I wanted to send him a pile of shit emoji with my eyes but I haven’t mastered that skill quite yet so instead I said

It’s just that you seem to know a lot about me for someone who doesn’t know me. And who claims to be listening but hasn’t heard a word I said.

More or less pleasant conversation followed. And then! Before we left he asked me to open my YouTube and search for this video he made. I felt nervous and was hoping it wasn’t porn-y but I obliged and looked for the video. It was an ab workout video.

Eyebrows: You should try out that video. (Looks me up and down.) I think it will really help you.
Me: Wow, dude! You know how to make a girl feel gooooooooood!

And I laughed and laughed and laughed my entire walk home. And then I cried myself to sleep. No just kidding I didn’t. I actually laughed. And felt really good that I have a positive body image (most of the time). And it’s true, I don’t have the best abs but whatever. You know what doesn’t make me want to hang out with a person again? Him telling me that he knows my type, can read me like a book, and PS has x-ray vision and therefore can totally tell I haven’t been doing my planks and is going to point it out rather than be cool and realize that having x-ray vision, even fake x-ray vision, is a thing only characters in comic books should have. I thought I had seen the last of him but then, the next morning:

Smiley face, smiley face, kiss-y face.

I didn’t respond.

The end.

I Thought We Were Friends

2 Feb

Sometime in the late spring, early summer of 2010 I rode the B63 bus down Atlantic Avenue from my bartending job towards home. I was drunk. I was drunk a lot that summer. I was heartbroken and in complete free fall. I sat staring out the window, tears silently streaming down my cheeks as they often did, wondering what I had done wrong, how I could fix it and when the pain – so emotionally present that it turned into physical hurt – would stop. I was pretty sure it never would, that the pain was my new normal. The bus stopped and a man, probably around my age, appeared in front of me. He smiled and gave me a hand-written note before he walked off the bus and into the night.

You’re beautiful when you cry. Call me.

The tears stopped. I held the note in my right hand between by thumb and fore finger and stared blankly out the window. I took it with me as I exited the bus and looked at it as I made my way home. At the first trashcan I found I spit violently on the small slip of paper – imagining it was the man’s face – crumpled it up and threw it into the garbage. Being mad at him and all the other strangers who seemed to smell my vulnerability that summer was so easy. It felt as though men – anonymous men, not the men I knew – were all dogs.

The pain eventually dulled. I fell in love again.

***

Going on two years ago my most recent relationship ended. We were together for almost four years. What do they say in all those articles about break-ups, that it takes half the length of the relationship to get over it? Maybe there is something to that because I am just now about back to normal and by normal I mean that the idea of being involved in the dating scene makes me want to scream. This guy at work last night asked me how I meet people to date and my honest response was that I don’t. I just don’t.

I could chalk it up to my work schedule. That being almost entirely unavailable on weekends makes it near impossible to meet someone. I could blame modern dating and the rise of internet dating sites. As someone who works in a social setting with already precarious power dynamics, the idea of some guy seeing me on the Internet and then walking into my bar and thinking he has some kind of leverage terrifies me. I could blame my most recent dating experiences and the assumption men seem to have that if a date is going halfway decently it’s their cue to try and come home with me. Good fucking luck. But the reality is that I blame my friends. Or, more accurately, people I thought were my friends. I blame the people that made me feel like my only value is in my body and what it can offer them.

Let me quote an article from Salon that finally gave me the strength to write this post, this post that I have been writing over and over again in my head but never wanted to actually put to paper, so to speak, for fear of hurting the feelings of people who never had any consideration for mine.

When the bad things that happen are normal, you become tough. It’s devastating how tough I am.

So, as a 30-year-old woman who has been through a range of horribly exploitative sexual and emotional experiences—you know, just like pretty much every woman you know—I really don’t want to know anymore if a stranger finds me attractive. Not right out of the gate. Hell no. There are so many more interesting things about me than my body… This is why I cherish my friendships with straight dudes who would never try to fuck me even if we are trashed, and is probably part of why I hang out with a lot of queer people. 

This is why I’ve gone home in tears after someone I respect says they think I’m smart and funny and interesting and they’d like to have a drink and rap about the world, and then just tries to fuck me after I patiently dodge their advances all night. Were they not even paying attention? … I am still, as a grown woman, trying not to mentally respond to that situation by thinking: “Well, that person just wanted to fuck you. Maybe you are not really that smart or interesting.” That precise feeling is one that I don’t really think straight dudes can fully relate to: You are invisible, but they still want to fuck you. They do not see you or hear you. They still might rape you. This is why somebody putting their eyes all over me or immediately telling me they like the way I look is no longer flattering. Because it makes me feel fucking invisible.

The woman who wrote this article is a bartender in her 30s, like me. And she, too, is fucking exhausted by how much she is sexualized at work. This past week, I have been given 2 phone numbers, been told by a customer that he has wet dreams about me, had a coworker hit on me by alluding to the version of 50 Shades of Grey that we could make together, and had to tell someone that my tits could not pour him his beer so if he would please look at my face when requesting service it would be appreciated. Sometimes I leave work feeling like a pair of boobs and a hole to fuck, with arms conveniently attached to provide liquid courage. The thing I make my money off of is the same one that empowers men to disempower me and managing that disempowerment, that power dynamic, is tricky. It is intertwined with my ability to earn a living. And it is exhausting.

When I leave work at 4am, I try to leave all of that behind me. I try to reenter a world where I am valued for more than my body and my ability to pour liquid into a cup. Of course, I want people to find me attractive but I want that to be attached to the fact that I am smart and funny and interesting. Those are the things I value about myself. So when I read this line — This is why I have gone home in tears after someone I respect says they think I’m smart and funny and interesting and they’d like to have a drink and rap about the world, and then just tries to fuck me after I patiently dodge their advances all night. Were they not even paying attention? — I was like, finally, someone else said it. Because I, too, have gone home in tears. I have spent the better part of the last two years thinking my taste in (male) friends sucks because one after another after another after another of my straight male friends have tried to fuck me. I barely have any left. To those who have been my friend all this time I value you more than I can really say.

Somewhat recently I met up with an old friend for a drink. We hadn’t hung out in awhile because life took us in different directions but I was happy to catch up. It took him about 2 hours to try and fuck me. I told him about my life, what I’ve been up to, what I’ve been thinking about. He told me how he always thought I was so hot. He thought he was flattering me. I have never felt so cheap, so misled, so socially inept. How did I not know? How did I ever think this drink was about us catching up as friends? How did I not see this coming? How stupid can a person be?

I, like the well-trained woman that I am, blamed myself. Over and over again.

My ex-boyfriends all knew that the best way into my pants was through loving my brain, not lusting after my body. But of course, they were listening. There was more in it for them. I was visible. Me. I was more than just  a conquest, or the fulfillment of a long curiosity. I was a human being with unique value. And I am done feeling as though I did something wrong to mislead people about what I was looking for. I have always been clear. So be my friend or don’t be. But if you’re just looking to fuck, move along. I’m not interested. Stop wasting my time. Stop making me feel like garbage. Because after all these years it takes me more and more time to rebuild myself after work. If you’re really my friend, you should be supporting me. So stop tearing me down.

The Dreaded Question

24 Jan

Why are you so angry?!

 

I get asked this question a lot. Infrequently when I am actually angry. A few weeks ago my coworker and I had a little bit of a rush. Nothing serious, but enough for me to put on my “make all the drinks as fast as you can” face. That face is blank. That face is not making jokes, it is not having pleasant conversation, it is making you your tequila and pineapple (ew, gross) while taking an order and checking an ID. That face is efficient. In the midst of taking an order and alerting someone that I would be with them in a minute, this dude who is a friend of my coworker tried to hand me his cell phone attached to the charger for me to plug in for him. I looked at him and, quite politely I thought and while wearing my can’t you tell I am working?! face I said to him,

Sure. Just as soon as I finish all of the tasks that make me money.

He looked stunned. I walked over to the register and said to my coworker

I think I might have scared your friend.

We looked down at the bar and there he was, sitting there holding his cell phone with the charger still attached looking forlornly at the place where I was previously standing. I have to admit I felt a little bad. Not badly enough to go talk to him about it because (a) I was busy, (b) you all should know better than to ask a busy bartender to plug in your phone because none of us actually give a fuck as to whether or not you can receive text messages and we also are not your secretary and (c) don’t they sell those little external chargers and don’t they cost roughly the same as the bar tab you just ran up? My coworker and I had a little chuckle and when it calmed down a bit I figured I would smooth things out with his friend. I cleaned the area around him and made a few smart and witty observations about some idiot wearing a pocket protector as part of his Saturday night get-up. He seemed more or less amused. I got a smile out of him, anyway. I skipped back to my coworker to tell him about how I had made everything great again at which point he giggled and said

Yo he was like, why is she so angry?!

UGH! So here’s the thing. It wasn’t like, why was she so angry that time when I acted as though I was the only person in the bar and requested she do me a favor that I wouldn’t pay her for when she had like 15 orders in her head and was, in fact, at the very moment that I asked her in the midst of actually taking one of those orders? Because I wasn’t actually angry in that moment, if we’re being accurate. I was ever-so-slightly irritated (it takes a lot more than that to register on the anger meter these days). But I can see why he would perhaps perceive it that way. What he was asking was why is she so angry. Like, as a person, all the time. And it made me think back to all of the other times people, read: men, have asked me why I am so angry when I was simply telling them no. Here are a few times when I have been called angry when I have, in fact, not been angry:

That time I said no to an invitation to go out to dinner. I am simply not interested and besides, you asked me out after your 5th whisky neat and I am at work, sober and I am thinking about being in my bed, alone (okay, fine, my cats will be curled up at the bottom of it but whatever).

This one time I refused to serve this smarmy asshole a drink. I was angry the last time he came in when I was standing at the bar in my running clothes talking to my friend and, without recognizing me, decided to sit practically on top of me and drape his arms all over me. That was not the first time that happened, either. And if we’re being honest I was actually quite happy to ask him to leave. I’m pretty sure I was smiling.

And while we’re on the subject, all the times I am not smiling. I like smiling. I do not, however, smile all the time. First of all, I am fairly certain my face actually would freeze like that and how awkward would that be if someone told me something horrible had happened and I was staring at them with a stupid grin on my face? And secondly, no one smiles all the time. People smile when they are laughing and having fun. They do not smile when they are doing things like taking out the trash, walking to the gym, or serving the never-ending wall of people in constant need of beverage refills. And just because a person is not smiling does not mean that person is angry. They could be feeling all sorts of other things: sadness, non-smiling happiness, contentedness, nothing at all. They could be thinking. They could just not give a shit about you one way or the other. And please, while we are here, never say the following thing:

Smile, sweetie, it’s not that bad.

Maybe it wasn’t that bad before but it is now.

Here’s another important thing, though. Sometimes I am angry and that is okay, too. There are a lot of things to be angry about. But the way that men ask that question

Why are you so angry??

Reads the same as

Why are you so emotional??

Or better yet,

Why are you so irrational??

It is disempowering and makes it feel as though our lived experience is somehow less important, less real, or as if we are less capable of engaging with our own lives. What we are angry about is petty. It is a woman’s problem, not a real one. (It goes without saying that any extreme response to something means we are on our period and therefore can not be taken seriously.) I was actually one time put in real, actual danger involving a man with a gun and then, weeks later when recapping fallout from the experience was asked why I am so angry. Why?! Why am I angry?! Because I could have been shot! With a gun! And died! Fuck yeah I am angry! I am angry about that experience and why it happened and what happened after but that does not make me angry as a human being all the time and it also is a completely and totally rational response to a really scary experience that is in the past and is therefore not something to be actively afraid of. I mean, what? Am I supposed to be all

Nah, it’s all good, bro. No worries.

Now that is what I call irrational. Because it is decidedly not all good and there are worries.

So let’s just recap: Just because I am not smiling does not mean I am angry. I might just be busy, or thinking, or whatever. When I tell you no, it does not mean I am angry. It simply means no. Let’s move on. And when I am angry, there is good reason for it. And you shouldn’t have to ask why I am angry because I will tell you in no uncertain terms exactly why. It will be very clear. And it will be just as justified, or unjustified, and rational, or irrational, as when a man is angry. Crazy, right?

Trauma is a Bitch

1 Jun

I feel as though I have been harping on this. As if it has occupied some unreasonable amount of space in my brain and my body. As if I have to apologize for referencing it, for talking about it, for allowing it to impact the way I do my job and live my life. I would say this is the last time I will bring it up here but I cannot say that for certain because I don’t know when, and if, it might come back to haunt my mind again. Trauma, as it turns out, is a strange and unpredictable thing. It winds its way into and throughout your body, it occupies the smallest crevices in your brain. It shows its face at the strangest times and leaves you standing on the street, silent tears streaming down your face, breathing through your racing heart, wondering why all the jokes you make about it can’t just force it to live in the past where it belongs. It makes you doubt your strength and your ability to will yourself to just move forward and leave that experience in the dust, a small annotation in a long life.

A few weeks ago I was informed by my coworker that the guy who physically assaulted me at work had come into the bar. Entirely unrelatedly, and by no intention of my own, I had spoken with him previously, and extremely briefly, over the phone. He told me he hoped we could move forward and become friends. I chuckled and told him not to be crazy, to take care of himself. I got off the phone and I felt good, in control, strong. I worked a shift behind the very bar where the incident occurred and then the next day I wrote him a letter. I knew he wasn’t going to read it, although I would be pleased if he did. It was just a means for me to tell him what I wanted him to know and to take back a little bit of my own power. The goal was to feel a little less helpless and it seemed like it worked. But then the news. I don’t know exactly how to put into words the feeling I got when I was told he had been in the bar the previous week. My hand immediately shot just above my left eye where there is still a pebble-sized calcification just below the skin that I find myself touching when I get nervous or uncomfortable. I looked at my friend in disbelief. My stomach dropped through the floor. I started sweating. I got the chills. So much for power and control. So much for thinking that a guy with a sizeable rap sheet who would throw a glass at the face of a girl who is half his size and two-thirds his age has even an ounce of self-control, has the capability of making reasonable decisions, gives a shit about his own future and his freedom. Joke’s on me, I guess. Seeing the best in a person is simply not possible when there is nothing good there. But beyond that I realized that I had been operating under the incorrect assumption that I was safe and that I was trusting the word of a man who I honestly believe to be a monster. He told his family he would stay away from the bar and me. He didn’t. And according to security he has tried to come into the bar when I’ve been there. Apparently booze tastes better when you get it from a place where you are unwelcome.

And then there was last night. I met up with a good friend of mine to just, I don’t know, catch-up, unload, destress. We went to our local spot which was oddly busy and, just as we decided to go somewhere better suited to our mood I heard it:  violent flesh-on-flesh contact. I grabbed my friend’s arm and just kept saying “oh god, oh god, oh god” until he headed into the mass of people trying to get the man who had struck the bartender out of the room. All of a sudden they were moving towards me. An angry, loud, testosterone-full group of people forcing the guy through the bar and out onto the street. I wedged myself between the bar and a stranger sitting on a barstool. A stranger whose sweatshirt hood I grabbed as I had visions of myself somehow being slammed into the bar or taking an errant elbow to the face. It wasn’t about me, had nothing to do with me, was likely not going to effect me and yet I couldn’t see how something like this couldn’t somehow drag me in. When I knew the coast was clear I fled through the door and leaned against the building, I concentrated on my breathing and willed my heart to just slow the fuck down. I felt weak and powerless. But even more acutely I felt like a self-indulgent asshole as I stood there having a panic attack over someone else’s experience and my proximity to it. Crazy, right?

I guess it’s just a weird thing to realize that sometimes being well-adjusted, self-reflective and emotionally even-keeled is simply not enough. And it’s infuriating to me to acknowledge that another person, a person who I actually don’t even really know and am afraid I might not recognize, has the ability to throw me into a complete and total tailspin in an entirely different neighborhood and in completely different circumstances without even doing anything. His actions didn’t change his psychology but they certainly altered mine. And then it gets me thinking about the trauma that other people deal with on the day-to-day. In the grand scheme of things, what I experienced was small potatoes. People live through wars, through violent attacks of all kinds, through fires, through abuse, through horrific accidents. I imagine those experiences creep up on them, too. Sometimes even randomly, on a Sunday night, in their own backyard. But that’s life, I guess. All we can hope to do is keep pushing forward, realize our feelings and emotions are important and worthwhile, take care of ourselves as best we can and when we can’t, reach out to others to take the pressure off. That’s what friends and family are for and I am eternally grateful for mine.

Here’s to hoping that this is the last post about this bullshit.

The 4:45 am Compliment

3 May

Oh, you guys. It takes all kinds, it really does. Over the years of keeping this blog, I have written about all kinds of times when I have been cat called, street harassed, spit on and the likes by men in New York City. As a bartender, I get my fair share of nonsense when I am at work also. There was the time I got proposed to on a napkin, my answer requested in the form of ‘yes’ and ‘no’ check boxes. Obviously I checked yes. It was a beautiful ceremony. Wish you all coulda been there. Then there was that time I went to give a customer a kiss on the cheek and he turned his face, landing one on my lips. He thought it was hilarious. Me? Not so much. And then there was last night when, after a request for a hug from a regular, I got the following lovely little suggestion (request?) whispered in my ear:

“Are we gonna have sex tonight? I am going to fuck you so hard you won’t be able to run for a week.”

Charming. Have I mentioned recently how much I love my job? No? Oh. Weird.

Anyway, all those things are neither here nor there I just really felt like sharing. The point of this post, really, was to tell you guys about the most ridiculous pick-up line I got last night. Or, wait, maybe it wasn’t a pick-up line. A compliment? I don’t know. Either way it was HI-larious.

Okay so here’s the deal. I had just gotten off a dreamy night of work. Can we just, for a second, discuss the fact that I said that with absolutely no irony whatsoever? Despite the rather aggressive sexual encounter that was offered to me? Seriously, just as an aside, last night I was transported from the bar that I normally work at into what I call Pleasantville. Seriously, everyone was nice! And they were tipping so well! And saying please and thank you! There was one girl who was only, like, moderately nice and she was the worst person we had all night mostly because she spent half the time crying into her gin and tonic. (My coworker and I did feel really badly for her. I hope you are okay where ever you are today, crying girl.) Oh! And before I forget! We also had this other girl sitting at the bar who spent like an hour videoing herself drinking her drink and making duck face. I so wish I had her Vine information because that shit was fantastic. I can’t even really do it justice. Anywho, I got off work, dropped my coworker at home, and headed back to my neighborhood where I found a parking spot on my block, and in a Wednesday spot no less! Score one for Frank! I got out of my car, noticed I was parked a tiny bit on the curb, made the perhaps poor decision to worry about it later (which reminds me….move car…) when a black luxury car with tinted windows pulled up next to me. It was 4:45am. Here we go.

Guy: Hey sweetie.
Me: (unimpressed eyebrow raise) …
Guy: You’re lookin’ awful pretty
Me: (even more of an eyebrow raise and an eye roll) …..
Guy: What’s your name, gorgeous?
Me: I am not going to tell you that. Have a good night.
Guy: Come on, why won’t you get in the car?
Me: (walking away) HA!
Guy: You have just the most attractive kneecaps

?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

I have to say that in all my years of life and cat calling, I have never had my knee caps admired or complimented. And, honestly, until last night when it finally happened, I had no idea just how neglected they were or, honestly, how beautiful. How shapely. How bendy. And yes, how downright sexy. So thank you, weird 4:45am guy, for sexualizing a previously forgotten area of my body. Hopefully next time you will compliment my armpit, my inside elbow or, if I am lucky, my right pinky finger. It’s a little swollen from an incident with an ice bucket a few months back but it’s still downright hot.

If You Want Your Bartender to Love You…

7 Apr

…please bring cash.

Seriously, guys, it’s easy. Alright so let me just admit one thing: it is easier for me than it is for you. I make some percentage of my income in cash so I don’t require a trip to the ATM to keep my reserves up. It is always just sort of, there. It’s a point of pride for me really. And any lack of cash is a source of serious embarrassment. I am a bartender so cash sort of comes with the territory. For the rest of you who receive paychecks through direct deposit and make all your bill payments automatically on some pre-decided day of the month, a trip to the bank might seem annoying, unnecessary even. But if you go out to bars, and especially busy ones, the trip is well worth a little chunk of time out of your day.

So for one thing, we are not all like a Starbucks. (Yes, I understand that Starbucks does not serve booze – yet. Hang with me here.) You know how at Starbucks you can go in, order your grande whatever the fuck you drink and then hand them your card for the $5 not-so-delicious concoction they hand back to you? Well, the same doesn’t hold true in your neighborhood bar. Please don’t walk in, ask me what the cheapest thing is (already a super big no-no) and then hand me your card. I will not run it. And then when I tell you that there is a credit card minimum —  a fact that, by the way, is written in like 6 different locations, one of which is above the ATM that is provided for your convenience — do not tell me that it is illegal to have a credit card minimum. Believe me, that does not help your cause. Not only have I heard that argument more times than I care to remember (I worked in a bar frequented by both lawyers and law students for years) but I honestly couldn’t care less for the following three reasons:

1. It isn’t my rule, it is the rule of the place in which I work and if you have a problem with it you can bring it up with the owners who, by the way, also couldn’t care less.

2. It is an incredibly empty threat. You know it and although maybe you don’t think I know it I actually do, in fact, know it. Do you think any lawyer worth their weight in salt is going to take the time to bring a bar to court for having a credit card minimum? Maybe more to the point, do you think that I think any lawyer worth their weight in salt is going to take the time to bring a bar to court for having a credit card minimum? I mean, you probably do think I would think that since you brought it up with the hopes that it would have the desired outcome of me running your credit card for a $3 bud bottle which makes me sad for you. You really ought to stop going through life underestimating people.

3. Credit card companies are doing just fine without them forcing small business to pay astronomical fees (I’m looking at you, American Express). Here’s the thing: you like your local bars, right? You like them because you become friendly with the bartenders, sometimes maybe you even get a drink for free or a Peep dropped in your beer at Easter time (kidding, that’s only when I work). You like that you know the owners because it makes you feel like you are in the inner circle. Don’t make it harder for them to survive because you are too lazy to walk to the ATM down the block. And certainly don’t complain about how you don’t want to pay a fee for pulling out cash because you know who else doesn’t want to pay a fee? The person you are trying to get to run your card for 3 bucks. The person who, by the way, doesn’t only have to pay that fee the one time. Don’t forget, you aren’t the only one paying with a card. That fee happens over and over and over again.

And here is the other thing. So I work in two, occasionally three, different bars. They are all incredibly different. One is a sports bar with a kitchen that serves better-than-average pub food. One is a super small, super local spot with a diverse beer selection and delicious grilled cheese sandwiches. And the last one turns into something of a hip-hop dance party on the weekends. The one thing they all have in common, though, is that people want their drinks and they want them in a timely fashion. This is easy on a low key afternoon but considerably more difficult on a Saturday night when the bar is 3 deep. And do you know what makes it even more difficult? When I have my back turned to the customers for half the night because I am running through one of the 190 different tabs that have been opened and closed over the course of 3 hours. Because here is the thing folks:

I cannot make you a drink while I am running credit cards through the machine.

And isn’t that what you came out for? Drinks? I mean, I know I have an alright ass and all but I am quite certain you didn’t venture out of your apartment to stare at it for half the night. And if you did, ew, please go somewhere else.

And just one other thing, while I have you all here. If you insist on paying with your card, or you went to the bank and somehow it was entirely out of cash (at which point I would advise you to look for a new financial institution to handle your business because that shit is crashing and burning), please just open one tab. Don’t order a round and close your tab and then come back 15 minutes later and order another round and close your tab again and then come back another 30 minutes later and order another around and, you guessed it, close your tab. That really gums up the works. And it pisses me off. Especially if you are one of the people that gave me a hard time about the credit card minimum the first time around. I remember you. Believe me. It’s just like, think about it. You know how you said

“excuse me, miss?! Helloooo-oooooo”

when I had my back to the bar because I was running a card when you wanted a drink? And how you couldn’t understand why you weren’t getting what you wanted exactly at the moment you wanted it because I was doing something else? Well now, as I run your card for the third time tonight, someone else is waiting with an empty glass, wondering what is taking so long. So, you know, just some food for thought. It’s not all about you.

So you guys, please, I beg you, just bring cash. It saves us all time and, if we’re smart about it, money. And when I know you are paying cash and I am incredibly busy I will probably get to you a little faster. You might even get that buyback that can be so illusive on a busy night. It’s a win-win.

A Letter to the Guy Who Threw a Glass at My Face

7 Mar

Dear ______,

It has been two weeks since the night that you decided to throw a glass at my head because I, rightfully it now seems, refused to serve you a drink because of your aggressive behavior. I am quite certain you won’t ever read this but on the off-chance that you stumble upon it one day, I figured I would let you know what my past two weeks have looked like.

I woke up the Sunday following the incident unable to fully see through my left eye because the lid was swollen enough that it was obstructing my vision. I picked up the phone and called my parents. My father answered. I started off the conversation by asking him whether he was sitting down, telling him that I was fine, and then told him that some guy had thrown a glass at my face and that I had a black eye. During the first moments of the conversation he must have motioned for my mother to pick up a receiver because at some point her voice appeared, a soothing balance to my father’s worry turned anger turned worry. I understood both of their approaches. I can’t imagine what it must be like to receive a phone call from your daughter on a Sunday morning with the news that she was physically assaulted at her job.  I spent the rest of the day on the phone with my parents and my boss, I cancelled plans with friends, got shifts covered at work, I cried. Occasionally I passed in front of the mirror, shocked every single time by the face that looked back at me.

That evening was taken up by a visit to urgent care to assess any potential permanent or temporary damage. Thankfully you hit me in the “right” place, a centimeter above my eye socket. Had the glass struck me just slightly lower, I could have lost my vision or the entire eye. But of course you weren’t thinking about that. You were so infuriated by my refusal to serve you the alcohol you clearly did not need that you almost caused me serious, permanent damage. It’s a strange feeling to consider yourself lucky in the aftermath of such an attack but I do. It could have been much worse. And honestly, you are almost as lucky as me that it wasn’t.

And the phone calls continued. To friends and family concerned about my well-being and ready to offer me advice about what I should do next. I would be stupid to go back to work at that bar, they said. I was like a sitting duck. I wouldn’t be safe. On top of the pain I was feeling in my head I was also looking at a potential loss of my livelihood, at least for the immediate future. But you didn’t think about that, either. You didn’t think about me being concerned about the short 2 block walk from the subway to my job, about the distance between the bar entrance and the taxi I will always have waiting for me now, about my anxiety that a new security guard who doesn’t know you will let you walk in the door and there I’ll be again, face-to-face with you, refusing you service because you will never get anything off me again, hoping that you don’t grab a bottle this time.

And then, of course, there is the physical reality. I have been making my way through the world for the past two weeks with a black eye. Do you know what it’s like to be a girl walking around with a black eye? No, of course you don’t, but I’ll tell you. It fucking sucks. People either stare or they avoid looking at your face, directing all questions and comments conspicuously over your left shoulder. Those that stare do so with a look of concern and pity. You can see the narrative forming in their heads about the late night argument, the angry boyfriend or husband, the accusations, the promises that it won’t happen again. Most people don’t ask what happened because they already know, or think they do. Those that comment say things along the lines of what a customer said to me last night: I hate seeing that shit. He refused to allow me to tell him the actual story about what happened, to assure him — even though, to be honest, I am not sure — of my safety. He already knew the story, or so he thought. He threw me a $20 tip.

I know you don’t care but my face is almost entirely back to normal. There is just a small discoloration under my left eye that can, in some light, pass for a birthmark. So when I head behind the bar tonight, behind the same bar that two weeks ago was the scene of the attack, I will look almost like I did then, almost like I did when you lost your shit and threw a double rocks glass at me without a thought to my safety or your freedom. But I guess rash behavior is sort of your deal, or so I’ve been told.

So I guess now we wait and see, let the chips fall where they may. I will continue to question every decision I have made up until this point. Were they right? Were they smart? Were they the best choices for me? My safety? Never once did I think about how these decisions might impact you. You are meaningless to me. Whatever happens to you now is on you, you did it. And as the time passes you will become less frightening to me. I will start to feel sorry for you, for whatever is wrong in your head that makes you behave the way you do, again and again, and somehow justify it to yourself. I will feel sorry for your family who constantly has to clean up your mess. One day they will stop. And it will just be you, and your anger, and your violence, all alone. I may or may not be the straw that puts you there but it will happen. And by that point I will barely even remember that you exist.

Good luck.

Rebekah

Please don’t ask me what else I do

24 Sep

Mostly, right now, I want to explode. I don’t actually know a more accurate way to put it. You know how sometimes you just go about life and realize that everything is just sort of, wrong? Or that you ended up somewhere entirely different than where you thought you would be? And then people say stuff like “oh, maybe that’s not so bad” but it is. It actually is so bad. So the other day at work this thing happened. So just to preface, I think maybe some of you people think I am really sensitive. I’m not, actually. I get mad about things but they don’t tend to penetrate through to anything, you know? Like, I get pissed off when people go through life acting like entitled little shits, but it doesn’t make me feel worse about myself, it just makes me feel a little worse about those people and the people who raised them. And also their friends who never call them out on their bullshit. Oh, and also the society in which we live that seems to think it is better to placate people because they have money than tell them that they suck at life. Because, obviously, money > respect.

Anyway, I can tell that I am in a spot when things people say to me at work actually get through. Generally what it is is some well-meaning person who just doesn’t get it. This is a perfect example. You wake up one morning and you have this HUGE zit on your forehead. Right in the middle of it. And you are aware of it and super self conscious and all that and you do whatever it is that you can to try to get it to go back to where it came from. You put on toothpaste to dry it out, some sort of zit cream, makeup. But nothing helps. It’s like a third eye. And you go out in the world and you know everyone sees it but there is nothing you can really do and then one person, one stupid person, is like

“hey, there’s something red on your forehead. Did you bump your head?!”

And you’re like

“no, motherfucker, that is just a HUGE GODDAMN ZIT THAT I AM INCREDIBLY AWARE OF BUT THANKS SO MUCH FOR POINTING IT OUT AND POINTING OUT THE FACT THAT IT IS BASICALLY LIKE I AM GROWING A NEW HEAD OUT OF MY ALREADY EXISTING ONE.”

and then you go home and cry and wonder why everyone is so mean.

That’s not what happened at work. What happened was the following. I was at work, you know, working, and this lady who has lived in the neighborhood who I have known in passing for a long time came in and ordered her drink and sat down right by the service station and the following conversation happened:

Actually, let me preface this real quick by saying that I have spent the better part of the past 5 months feeling like a waste of space. Okay, so keep that in mind.

Lady: So, are you done with school?

Me: Yup, graduated a year ago May.

Lady: what was the degree in again?

Me: Master’s in International Affairs.

Lady: So, are you working?

Me, standing behind the bar, I look around: Um…yes? Right now?

Lady: No, like, somewhere else.

Me: I work at another bar in Crown Heights.

Lady: But not in your field?!

Me: No.

Lady: Well, are you looking?

Me, wanting to scream MIND YOUR BUSINESS: No.

And then I stormed off and didn’t make eye contact again. It’s like, I know she meant well and was taking interest and couldn’t possibly know that the fact that I am doing nothing with my degree except paying it off is the equivalent, for me, of having a massive goose egg-sized zit on my forehead but still. It made me mad. So, a word to the wise, please don’t ask your service professional what “else they do” as if doing what they’re doing isn’t enough. For some people, it’s what they love and they have made a career out of it and that is fucking awesome. For many others, we are trying to figure it out and putting a lot of pressure on ourselves. Your questions, well-meaning or not, might not have the desired effect of making you seem interested in our lives. It sounds as if you think what we’re doing isn’t good enough. And the thing is, it is good enough. It just might not be our passion and that is something we are all trying to figure out and deal with. So, ask us how our day was, but please please please for the love of god, don’t ask what else we do.