Saturday, March 13, 2021

Hey! You! Get Out of My Way! Enter the 9th Circle Part 20

I return to Uncle Charlie’s in the afternoon to work the Happy Hour shift. It is one of the best happy hours in New York City. Everyone is aware that the bartenders tend to have a heavy hand when it comes to making drinks; that and the fact that the bartenders love to overpour. Imagine this deal at two for the price of one. I arrive and the place is quiet. It is two hours before Happy Hour officially begins. Of course, the bar has its regulars who arrive the minute the place opens, tend not to move from their spots, and get asked to leave when we close. As I breeze by them, they yell out various greetings.

Thank God,” I say as I’m passing through the bar. I see that the usual crew is working. Mitch runs over to me, rolling his eyes. The schedule has gone up and we are both working the holidays. Oh well, I figure that if I have to work during the holidays, Mitch and several of the other employees are people I consider family. Uncle Charlie’s is home for a lot of people who have nowhere to go, both staff and clientele. I spend a lot of time celebrating with the regulars.

I look around the side bar and see Charlie the DJ. He waves at me and Mitch as we hurry past on our way downstairs to clock in. Walking by the office, I see that Seth is working. “He’s in a mood,” Mitch warns me as we pass. “What a shock,” I think to myself. 

Arriving at the lockers, I pull my Charlie’s shirt out of the bag and begin to dress. Several bartenders arrive and begin to change their clothes, getting ready for the shift. One perk of working here is that the staff is beautiful. Most of the time they are hired for their looks and it’s an extra perk if they actually know what a vodka and soda is. Joe, the bartender of “
The Pizza Boy Delivers” fame, comes running into the room and hastily strips off his clothes. It is a beautiful sight to behold and Mitch elbows me to make sure I am paying attention. You don’t have to nudge me twice. “Hello Joe,” Mitch sings making goo-goo eyes in my direction. Joe, pulling his shirt over his head, grunts in response. 

Mitch and I finish dressing quickly and head back upstairs to the bar. Thank God there is very little prep work to do. Tonight I am a cocktail waiter. Tomorrow, I am a cocktail waiter and unfortunately, next week I am still stuck being a cocktail waiter. Eric the Fish breezes into the club, waving his hand in my direction. He’s hard to miss, being nine feet tall. He looks like an oddly handsome Joey Ramone.  “Sorry I’m late,
 ladies,” he squeals as he runs by. I look at Steve the bartender; he rolls his eyes. 

The bar begins to fill up; people like to be here the minute the clock chimes “Happy Hour.” Patrons get their drink on and then move on to the dance clubs. There is no dancing in Uncle Charlie’
s. I don’t know if it because of the Cabaret law or because it’s “not cool.” We have a DJ, music videos, and the best looking crowd. 

Hoping to make a lot of money tonight, I approach my first patrons.  It’s a small group of young twinks. They are all looking around to see if they are getting noticed. “Can I get you anything to drink?” I ask as I approach. “I’ll have a vodka tonic,” one of the guys says. The other three tell me that they are waiting for Happy Hour to get going a little more. “Great, more of the stand and stare crowd,” I think to myself. 


“What do you do for a living?” one of them asks me. “I’m a dancer,” I respond. “Oh, really.” he says, a big grin forming on his face. “Where do you dance?” he asks, looking at his friends. Not really sure where this line of questioning is going, I respond, “Mostly musical theatre and dance companies.” “Oh,” he says. “Have you ever danced at the Gaiety?” he asks, his eyes getting big. “Where’s the Gaiety?” I ask. He tells me the address and says that he saw a really great show there just the other night. “Thanks for the tip,” I say and tell them, “I will check it out tomorrow.” 

I walk away thinking about how nice they were but decide to keep the Gaiety to myself. I don’t want to let other dancers working at Charlie’s to know about the place. How great would it be to work as a dancer in New York and not have to go out of town all the time? 

Walking back to the bar, I notice a very skinny boy sitting all by himself. He looks as if he’s been crying and he keeps nervously scanning the crowd. I quickly walk over to him. “Are you okay?” I ask. He looks at me with bloodshot eyes. In between sniffles he tells me that he believes his boyfriend is cheating on him and hopes that he will catch him here. “God, that sucks,” I say sitting down next to him. “Can I get you a drink?” I ask looking around. Then under my breath I add, “On the house?” “That would be nice,” he sniffles in response. “I’
m Geoff,” I say thrusting out my hand. “Hi, I’m John,” he says grasping it firmly. 

I walk briskly over to the bar and explain the situation to Steve. Steve looks across the room and shakes his head. “
So sad,
” he responds. Both Steve and I are bleeding hearts when it comes to someone in distress. This is a common story we have heard once too often while working here. While waiting for the drink, I scan the crowd, hoping to see Bob. Mitch walks by and sidles up next to me. “Looking for Bob?” he asks, placing a finger under his chin. “Why. as a matter of fact, I am. Please let me know the minute you see him,” I reply. Mitch nods and turns on his heel.

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