“How’s the freak show downstairs?” asks Don with a smile. “Better looking than up here,” I say. “I love my job,” Don says with a laugh, throwing a bottle in the garbage. “Oh hey, take this to the table against the wall,” he says, handing me the now-familiar Sidecar. I place it on my tray and head into the crowd. I get felt up crossing the crowded bar and I can’t tell who has grabbed what at this point. I put the drink down in front of an old man and notice that a young kid of about fifteen is sitting at a table in the back in the dark. He has curly black hair, a muscular build, gray muscle shirt, and shorts. At first I don’t see him as much as I smell him. This is my first meeting with a male prostitute who has been given the nickname “Stinky” by the bar staff. Stinky has one arm around this old man’s shoulders and the other on his lap. “Hey, you’re kinda cute,” says the old man through squinted eyes. “How much for a dance?” he asks, lurching forward, almost falling. “Really,” I think to myself. “What does he think, this is 1930s Berlin?” I am suddenly reminded of a Donna Summer song and want to tell him it’s ten cents a dance, but I let it pass. Stinky waves his hand at me and tells me to “move on.” “Aren’t you fancy,” I mumble under my breath to Stinky. Stinky shoots me daggers with his eyes.
I move back into the crowd and someone grabs my arm. “I want a beer,” the man says to me. “Okay,” I say squinting at the bar and hoping to read the bar taps. “What kinds of beer do you have?” he asks, looking right into my eyes. “I’m not really sure,” I respond. “I’m new here”. “Well, can you go find out?” he says, sounding slightly irritated and raising his voice. “Of course,” I say, using my best Snow White voice, and head to the bar. In time I find out that this man is a regular at the bar and years later will be nominated for a Tony Award, but tonight he is on his best behavior and his anger medication seems to be working.
I head over to the bar, and Don can see which table I just came from. “Watch out for that one.” he says, swirling one finger counter clockwise around his ear. “He wants to know what kind of beer we have,” I say. “That one? He’s here nightly. He knows what we have.” I look back at the table; the guy is staring at the ceiling. “Oh, okay,” I say. “Would you like me to tell him that?” I say, my voice dripping in sarcasm. Don rolls his eyes and starts naming all the beers and I begin writing. “Got it,” I yell, and head back to the table. On my way there, Scott pops up in front of me.
“I have something to tell you,” Scott says, and I lean in. He proceeds to grab the back of my head and kiss me right on the mouth. I try to pull back from him. This is a little strange and I am completely uncomfortable, but flattered. I quickly imagine what kind of life we will have on the run. Scott pulls back, looks into my eyes, and tells me that I belong to him. With that, he turns on his heel and saunters away. I feel branded and a little tarnished. I walk back to the table feeling a little dazed as well.
“What took you so long?” the Tony nominee-to-be asks. Jesus, so many people to answer to. I am completely exhausted. “Long beer list,” I say, not missing a beat. “Well good, because I now want something with gin instead.” “What kinds of gin do you have?” he says, narrowing his eyes at me. Resisting the urge to slap him across the head, I just wander away from the table and head back to the bar.