Behind the Bar: Take One

It was different, on this side. Dressed down, instead of up. Sneakers, not heels. Drinking Redbull, no vodka. Simple black singlet, comfortable jeans. No short skirts or hot little dresses tonight. Before the night kicked off, I was anxious about getting in the others way. Worried that it would be harder than it looked. Worried that things might not go as smoothly as I would have liked. I reminded myself that I was doing this for love, and even if I cocked things up royally, my intentions were good. I shouldn't have worried, really. Once the night got started I fell into an easy rhythm. It was hot, with the six of us together. The camaraderie was tight. The jokes a little bit filthy. The winks and grins all alluding to other dirty things. We worked quickly, intimately. Hands on hips as we slid by each other. Working over, under and around. Passing cups under taps, shovelling ice into bostons, dancing around the tills. In and out of the fridges, the chiller, the store room.

And oh the attention! I was unprepared for the attention, and the way people clamoured for mine. I got more smiles, more compliments, more witty one liners, more 'can I have your number?'s than if I'd been playing on the other side. And it was safe to flirt from over here. Easy to make small talk with the punters, the owners, the band.

I got better at working the taps. I remembered to only shovel the ice with the bostons, and I quickly adopted Asa's technique to open the bottles. I learnt how to pour wine on the bar with one hand. It was hard work, but fun. The press of people would come in waves, and it was amazing to see them relax, drop social stigmas, and smile more. As the night wore on, we'd take ten seconds for us, ten seconds for shots, ten seconds to keep us going. Sometimes sweet concoctions. Sometimes Jager poured straight from the bottle into open mouths. Over and under, they called it.

By the time lights came up, and night was coming to close I felt like I'd been operating on some kind of high that had come down an hour or two before. I sat on the end of Asa's desk and watched him count the take for the night. I listened to the boys clean up the bar, and I felt bad that I wasn't doing more. That I was incapable of being anything more than a lump. I knew the boys night was just getting started. That there would be many more drinks to be had in the closed bar. A private party to celebrate a night gone well.

Alas, I'm not a nocturnal creature. And I left, before the party got underway. I drove up my driveway, sure that morning wasn't too far away. I basked in the praise, that for my first night I did well. That I wasn't useless and could pour drinks under pressure. They asked if I'd like to make it a regular thing. Of course I would, really. It was a given, I'd do anything to support the bar. But after tonight, I'd do it even if I wasn't obligated. I'd do it to be part of that party, to be part of the camaraderie with those people. To work side by side, quickly, with a few laughs, a few dirty jokes, many good times.

They said they'd let me know about the next big function, but we all knew I'd be in next week. I can't wait.