Giant Michael always swore he'd never open another restaurant, but then he always swore this while I was bugging him for a bartending gig at either of the two he already owned. "Bitch, I have all the bartenders I need," he'd say as I harangued him, "and no I won't open another restaurant just so you'll have something to do while you should be writing. And by the way, it's never effective to address your potential boss as 'retard.'"
I started haranguing him after Keiger refused to hire me at the Local, which infuriated me, especially since Keiger hired Grant, which shows he has no standard for employees or concern for his patrons whatsoever. So I figured I'd go to Keiger's competitor, see?
"Whaddaya think about that?" I goaded him.
"You should be writing," Keiger responded. "Don't you have a book due or something?"
Lord, sometimes I think Keiger and Giant Michael are in cahoots to keep me out of the working class. I've known them both for more than a decade and every time I ask them for a job they tell me I'm a writer, "that's your job." Don't they know it's part of my creative process to be bad at a blue-collar gig while I'm scribbling for my real one? I used to be a flight attendant, and I was terrible at that job! It was wonderful. I got three book deals and a T.V. deal out of it. Then my airline went bankrupt (probably not because of me), and ever since I've been pining to recreate that perfect balance of avoiding one job while doing another.
"Hell yes I have a book due," I said. "I can't write it unless I'm supposed to be busy doing something else. Please let me bartend, just for one night."
"You're a good writer but you are the worst bartender," he said. Lord, I seriously don't know how Keiger bases his assessments, because the one time I did bartend for him at the Local all his customers practically passed me around on their shoulders at the end of the night, so profuse was their love for me. "That's because you don't charge people!" Keiger hollered.
"That's my process. Don't denigrate my process," I hollered back. "By the way, notice how popular the place is now? You're welcome."
Occasionally I still go to the Local and act like I own the place. Keiger allows me to behave this way because we used to date and I let him off easy when that phase in our friendship ended. I figure he's either so grateful I didn't make a horrible scene or so terrified I'm still set to stage one that he sort of lets me get away with murder. I've discovered this affords me way more power over him than when I was his actual girlfriend, because, in essence, he's really worried I still love him. The secret is I do, but not in a way that he needs to be worried about. I would never ever tell him this, though, because if I did he might stop being afraid of me, and the power, I tell you, is intoxicating.
But in the end Keiger's ultimate appreciation of profit always outweighs his fear of me and he puts his foot down about any more official guest bartending gigs at the Local. So even though I love him – and Grant, too – this means war. And if you're gonna go to war it's good to have a giant on your side. One visit is all it took, and Giant Michael did not even for a second hardly hesitate at all, pretty much, this time when I proffered the guest bartending idea.
He's opened a new place regardless of the fact that he swore he never would. It's an artsy Mexican bistro called the Bone Garden, which is so hip it's practically secretly located. It took me a month to become cool enough just to patronize the place, and even then I had to go with Grant, who, for some reason, is always afforded a red-carpet welcome wherever the hell he goes.
Michael met us at the door, weary from working endless hours, which I recognized as a perfect time to pry on his resolve. He agreed to let me bartend one night – Thursday, Sept. 25 – but made me promise I'd charge people. I never dated him, so he's not afraid of me, so I probably have to keep that promise. Knowing me, though, I will buy a lot of rounds and then talk Michael out of making me pony up for them.
"Maybe Lary can show up and distribute pornographic refrigerator magnets," I volunteered helpfully, not disclosing that the last time I guest bartended at the Local, Lary commandeered the Jäger machine and hosed down the crowd with free hooch before passing out under the sink. I got a whole book chapter from that one night alone.
Giant Michael nodded distractedly. He looks exhausted, I thought giddily. This'll be perfect.
Hollis Gillespie founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy. Her third book, Trailer Trashed, is out now. www.hollisgillespie.com
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