Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Chapter 14 - HELP WANTED: Tales of a Free-Spirit Professional

A warm welcome to visitors - old and new! Please click on the right side of the page in the archives to follow this post from the beginning. It ALL starts in June 2011, so take a look and follow along. As always, thanks for reading and enjoy.

Tony and I had had a short affair.  It was typical:  guy pursues girl heavily and gets her.  Guy tells girl he’s not looking for anything serious.  Girl says okay, but secretly vows to make him love her.  Guy tires of girl always being available and tells her they need a break.

It wasn’t unique nor did it go on for very long.  In fact, I think it took me longer to get over him than the time we actually spent together.  But I learned a very important lesson -  don’t POOP where you eat.  Dating someone in my building seemed perfectly normal when things were going well, but once it ended, coming home was tortuous as I held my breath from the front door all the way to my apartment.

Tony lived on the ground floor and because of that, he never opened the window shade.  At first, I would walk my dog, passing by and wondering what was going on inside.  Oh the life I imagined that guy was leading!  Had it gone the way I’d imagined, he’d be getting laid around the clock by beautiful women taller and skinnier than me; all of whom he’d be madly in love with.

Instead, Tony was busy at work on Hunkmania.

My friends thought I was crazy to get involved in anything Tony, but I felt differently.  Sometimes, it’s best to get close to the very thing you need to get past.  Being back in Tony’s life took the mystique out of walking by his apartment and wondering what he was up to.  My newfound freedom from the corporate life had me feeling good about myself and I was ready to face Tony and make a little money at the same time.

Money.  My new obsession.  I guessed this was how retired people felt as they watched their savings dwindle with no promise of income on the horizon.  I, of course, wasn’t retired, but being on unemployment had its drawbacks.  I could only get a job that paid cash or “under the table.”  If I got paid in a check, I’d have to report the income to unemployment and once they saw I was making money, bye, bye unemployment.

The extra money from Hunk was decent, but I was also getting bored.  Arthur, a guy I knew through Tony, bartended in my neighborhood at a small restaurant called The Cove.  He was a sweetheart and everyone loved him.  I’d stop by once in awhile to see him for a drink or two.

“Ya ever think about bartending?” he asked one night when I popped in for a glass of wine.

The bar at The Cove was small with just six seats.  The d├ęcor looked like something out of south Florida with grey tones and pink accents.  The owners were Asian with three other restaurants in the neighborhood – one Chinese and two Japanese.  The Cove was supposed to be their attempt at upscale, but it ended up looking more cheesy than elegant with fake potted palm trees lurking in the corner and mediocre food.

Despite all that, the energy was always good with Albert behind the bar as people who lived in the neighborhood would stop in for a few drinks and a bite to eat before retiring to their respective apartments.

“I’ve thought about it,” I said.  “But it’s practically impossible to get a good bar gig without any experience.”

“You could learn here.”

And so it went.  I came in on the nights Albert worked, for two weeks and he taught me how to bartend.  He was a great teacher – patient and knowledgeable.  And I was a good student, studying the flashcards I’d made with every drink recipe imaginable.

I liked being behind the bar.  That was immediate.  It felt like a stage and being a performer afraid of actually performing, the bar was a perfect place to get my stage on.  When the two weeks were up, Albert announced he was giving up Sundays and the owners okay’d my taking his place.

And just like that, I was bartender!  I was so excited at the notion of my very own bartending gig, not to mention the fact that there was a shift pay and tips, of course.  Life was providing everything I needed to be happy and make the rent.

“There’s just one condition,” Albert said after I practically tackled him gratitude.  “If I let you bartend here, you have to promise to do something about the singing.”

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