Tequila Blanco on the Rocks
To be a bartender in my 30’s is a guilty pleasure. I go to work, make drinks, talk with people and enjoy myself, and finish the day with a stash of cash. I work the hardest on the weekends, and while other people work I’m at the beach. It’s fun but doesn’t go anywhere.
I come from a tiny, stupid, macho country somewhere between the Middle East and the Mediterranean. The gender roles are clear – cocktails are for women, beer is for men. For some reason, mixology is often considered to be a male job.
That’s stupid. You don’t pour beer with your dick.
Please, do not attempt to hit on your bartender.
I’m being nice because that’s my job. I do want to give you the best service possible, and I appreciate a small talk at the bar when I have the time.
But one second of a too-long-eye-contact, or a too-personal-question, and everything takes an awkward turn. Plus, it’s very cringy when 20-something years old dudes flirt with a woman who’s almost a decade older than them.
A Shot of Vodka
I started when I was 17, as a waitress in a pizza chain. I was young and terrified, and for many adult men, I was easy prey. Me-Too wasn’t a thing yet and creepy guys would just roam around in the wilds and say cringy things to young girls like me. We had this awful cook whose breath stank of vodka and he would voice comments about the size of my breasts, the sexy way I eat, or the weight I gained or lost. One day, on his way to the bathroom, he said “Hey, I chopped some spicy peppers. Can you hold my dick as I pee?”. I complained to the management daily, but they would just shrug. Boys will be boys.
I vowed to never be a bystander when I see sexual harassment. I want to give a backbone to young waitresses because nobody did this for me.
Live in a politically explosive country? Do customers speak with you about sensitive subjects you disagree with? Get out easily from any tense conversation with generic answers.
Instead of saying “you’re a fascist psychopath who would blend well in Nazi-Germany”, hit them with “as long as we have our health”. Instead of “people like you should be in prison for hate crimes”, say “Whatareyougonnado, you can’t choose your neighbors”. Instead of the “Ok Boomer” eye-roll, just give them a shot of Arak on the house.
A Classic Margarita
Let’s shake things up a little!
I love alcohol. Discovering alcohol as a teenager was like finding out magic exists in real life. As a kid, I never actually said what I thought. I hid from the world, not sounding my funny remarks and incredible stories.
But alcohol changed everything. From the introverted girl, I turned into the queen of the night, a shining star, the wittiest and most clever person in the room. As I walked into the bar all eyes were on me. Everybody wanted to bask in my glow. It was like a superpower.
Now, as an adult, I don’t need that superpower anymore. I’m not afraid to speak my mind and be myself, even at the cost of slight awkwardness from time to time. But some days, when I feel a bit off, I take a sip of Liquid Courage just to shine again.
Gin & Tonic
Did you know? Drinking tonic water almost feels like drinking alcohol. But only almost.
I’m married to work. I mean, literally, I work with my husband who’s a chef. We’ve met at art school more than 10 years ago, and been inseparable since. We live together, work together, make things together.
Sometimes I think we need to take some time off, but when I do it feels wrong. Life is missing some spark, like drinking tonic without gin.
So baby, no matter what, you’re the Gin to my Tonic.
Gentle balance, this is what it’s all about. Balance alcohol with water and a salad. Balance the hectic hours and endless line of customers with some alone-time at home with a book. Balance your playlist with some New Orleans Jazz. Balance family-time with friends-time.
And balance the ever-going train of thoughts with a blog.
I’d like to end on a bitter-sweet note.
I’m not sure when I’ll quit, and where I’ll end up in life. I know it’s fun but doesn’t go anywhere.
In the movie Blue Valentine, Cindy asks Dean why he doesn’t do anything with his talents, he’s got so much potential. He answers, why do I have to make money from my potential? What does potential even mean?
I sometimes think so too. If I get to write, and read, and be myself, why do I have to turn my creativity into a profession for it to count?
Maybe I’m wrong. Sometimes I ask myself if this is enough. How long can I keep this going before I get burned out?
The truth is, that if I look deep down, I have everything I’ve ever wanted, and all I’ve ever wanted was to be free. And what’s more important than that?