From the Department of: I did WHAT?
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The summer before I moved to Los Angeles, I worked as a mostly daytime bartender in a semi-hip California-style Italian restaurant by Dupont Circle in DC. The owner was a hot Italian guy who was married but always flirted heavily with the female staff and was rumored to have slept with at least one of the vixen waitresses he kept on staff.
The day I was hired to bartend, I actually had come in to inquire about a hostess position I heard was open. Immediately, they told me they needed a daytime bartender and put me to work. I had never bartended, but I always made sure to mix the drinks with plenty of alcohol so my customers were always happy.
Once, I remember seeing a friend of mine’s mother in the back, hidden section of the restaurant, sharing an intimate mid-day meal with a man who was not my friend’s father.
My best customers consisted of a few men who would come by during the day, sit by themselves usually, though the Hot Italian Restaurant Owner and staff would always fawn over them. They’d flirt a bit with me and order their vodka. One of these men was the head of the bank across the street, I think it was Citibank. Another was a billionaire Lebanese guy. It was a game for me, trying to see how many vodkas I could get them to order, just to see how high I could cause my tip to climb – into the double digits, and yes, once in a while, into the triple.
Never occurred to me these guys were actually going back to work, making decisions that were probably affecting thousands of lives. (Hmmmm… mortgage crisis, anyone?)
Once the billionaire Lebanese guy got pretty drunk, and wound up inviting me to his nearby apartment in the middle of my shift. I can’t remember anymore under what guise he invited me – I was going to be moving to LA shortly – did he tell me he could help my career somehow? All I know is that Hot Italian Restaurant Owner was more than happy to let me off in the middle of my shift if it meant pleasing this particular patron.
And what do you think that I – a Phi Beta Kappa Yale graduate, who had volunteered countless hours at Yale in the Women’s Center, raised by a family of feminists, granddaughter to the first woman lawyer of Texas – chose to do?
I went with him.
Was I that desperate for attention? For adventure? For money?
Somewhere along the elevator ride up to his penthouse, I began to worry. The guy didn’t “feel” dangerous to me, but still… I didn’t know him. I didn’t want to sleep with him. Obviously he was hoping he could get some kind of ‘play’ from me… So what in the world was I doing with him?
We got to his apartment. I don’t remember much – just that he sat down, and looked at me with his red face and glossy eyes like, ‘The ball’s in your court.’ At which point, I made some excuse and told him I should get back. If he tried to convince me to stay, I don’t remember it. All I remember is that within a few minutes, he had escorted me safely back to the restaurant. The owner winked and scolded me, and I have no idea if I played along or told him the truth: nothing happened.
The whole event was basically a non-event. Except, that now I’m a mother of 3, I SHUDDER TO THINK any of them would put themselves in an even remotely similar circumstance…
Sheva (BatSheva Vaknin)