Tuesday, February 24, 2009

How I became a Bartender, Part 1

I had never intended to be a bartender. I had never really known one. Even when I frequented bars, I never really thought about who the person placing my bourbon in front of me was, much in the same way we never really think about the people who serve us things and disappear from our lives. Most of us are ignorant in that way until something makes us change our tune. Mine was coming. I was trying to hold a low-paying non-profit job in DC and balance teaching part-time at the university. Then, one day, my boss said to me: you really seem to love the teaching, but your eyes don't light up in that way when you talk about this job (in my head, I'm thinking, yeah, I manage the database, fascinating!). 

My birthday horoscope said: You can't handle a 9-5. That was obvious. I had figured that out a few months after that conversation. I had quit the non-profit job and had one class at GW and had no idea how I'd make my rent. I called my boss at GW and got another class, but still, I had no idea how I would put food in that apartment. 

So I returned to my waitressing roots. I applied for a "cocktail server" job posted on Craigslist.
This is how the interview went:

Boss: So you're a professor?
Me: Yes.
Boss: Name five types of vodka.
Me: Um, Absolut, Smirnoff...(trying to come up with other Russian names). I can see it on the counter in a big plastic jug. My father is really good at making Bloody Marys.
Boss: Ok, name five types of gin.
Me: Gin?! My grandpa makes martinis with it. He's only allowed to have one. It sort of smells like pine cones and tastes like perfume. (in my head, I'm so blowing this...)
Boss: Name five types of bourbon.
Me: (finally relieved!) Jack Daniels...
Boss: No, that's Tennessee Whiskey.
Me: (demoralized) that's what I drink and I don't even know anything about it?
Boss: Well, now you know.


It was raining, hard. I went home to my studio feeling absolutely incompetent. Didn't I do shots on my 21st? I thought back to the things that I drank and realized I had no idea what was in them or anything about alcohol. Other than, if you drink too much, it will make you sick (duh!). Luckily, I didn't have any alcohol around in my apartment and it probably would have mocked me if I had. Jack Daniels had betrayed me, or rather, I had betrayed him. 

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