“Baby, I love you, but I’m 20 years your elder.” “That don’t matter. That don’t mat-“
“Yes it does. Hush, hush.” She strokes his face. “You need to find your own butterfly; spread her wings.”
“Ah, girl-you dirty.”
This, while not okay, is pretty much par for the course in my career as a bartender: I’m wrapping up an 11-hour shift with this drunken thug, and the desperate housewife he met 10 minutes prior, having sex on my bar. The relationship began with said thug’s exclamation: “Drinks for this half of the bar down : down to that elbow thing over there.” Admittedly eloquent, but the face-licking-now that’s class. I’m not too concerned, however. Relationships of this nature usually fizzle out when the house lights (aka the ugly lights) come on and the first jarring slice of sobriety hits the party. It turns out I’ve guessed appropriately.
“Y’all better say thank you; I bought y’all a drink!” he says, recoiling from the bar tab.
“Be nice,” I say. He doesn’t listen. And after some fiscal help from his elderly butterfly, he is on his way home, escorted by our large friends, the bouncers.
Such is the bartender’s life. One minute you’re polishing dishes, the next you’re explaining why you can’t let the man take the bottle home with him. But it’s not such a bad life. I get to see many interesting things, after all. And the people are, for the most part, why I do the job in the first place. Because bartending isn’t just about pouring the drinks; it’s about making my guests feel as if they are at home, as if they’re welcome-because they are. And with all their foibles and faults, raucous behavior, passive aggression, and face-licking, they are equally kind and helpful, titillating and humbling, quick to help a fellow member of the community, and friends when in need of advice, solace, or just a good laugh.