The last time she was in, the tipsy suits cornered her. She didn't answer. "You a magazine editor or something?"
"No," she had said cooly flipping a page. He tried again. "You're badgering me," she said, "I'm just trying to read."
Luckily his less rude or drunken colleague stepped in, paid the check and said it was nice meeting her and they had a dinner reservation.
There's a fine line between the spoken and unspoken. As a bartender, I try to respect people and let them talk when they want. "I try not to judge or peg people," which is what I told the South American tourist when he wanted me to tell him what I thought of his relationship with the woman standing next to him. He pushed, "is she my friend, my girlfriend, or my friend?"
I let the bait fall loose, knowing that the small fish are small.
"You're supposed to read people," he said.
I set his drink in front of him. "This is what I do, if you want analysis, you'll have to tip me more than 20%."
His girl smiled. "Good answer," she said rolling her eyes at him.
So I let Magazine Lady be. I know she had told me her name, but I had forgotten. It's easier to remember what people drink and what their stories are and so they keep coming back and it gets too late to ask their names again. I was trying to think of a way to find out politely when fate in the form of business traveller stepped in. He was from the midwest but used to live in the city he said. It was late and there were only four guests spaced out across the bar, the Swiss tourist drinking Sam Adams, another regular, Oren, Magazine Lady, and Jim who was introducing himself to Magazine Lady.
The last time she was in she was telling me about a date, how she had met someone at the bar when I wasn't working and how they went to french restaurant in the neighborhood, but it was terrible. She said they had bought a bottle of wine and then the waiter shooed them out before they finished their meal and their wine. I tried to guess where she had been. It sounded like the place I went to once for a bourbon after work. I met the owner. He invited me back to eat and said he'd take care of everything. I never took him up on it and I was surprised at her experience. "The owner must not have been there that night," she said.
I didn't want to say but I sensed that somehow these things happen to her. Once she had given me a bracelet. A friend had given it to her but she said it seemed more my style. She said she noticed the paint was chipped on some of the plastic beads. "The bar is dark I said, no one will notice." I put it in my tip bucket.