Sue bartended where I waited tables. We were fast friends, doing shots after last call as we wiped bottles and tables, refilled the ketchup and the rail. Then we parted ways in the parking lot and went our respective directions. Me to Chris’s house, and she to Jacob’s.
Until I was scheduled to work my first bartending shift, an easy day shift, middle of the week. I was super excited. This was my chance. Except Sue was called in to do it when the new server called out and I got stuck on the floor. I was super disappointed. Being an awesome person, Sue knew a night of drinking was exactly what was called for.
And waking up in Jacob’s house the next day wearing Chris’s shirt with Jacob and Chris nowhere to be found called for Bloody Marys.
We returned to the scene, though I didn’t really remember ever leaving. Sue knew it well, a biker bar south of the city; it was a place she and Jacob frequented. Before Jacob it was Henry. Before Henry it was Carl. And so on and so forth. Sue knew the place and the people. It was Sue’s bar.
We ordered our drinks from Stephanie and she introduced me to John.
“GG, this is John,” said Stephanie. I reached out my hand to shake John’s.
“John…” I paused. “Just John?”
“Just John,” he said and turned back to his video poker game.
“Well I’m Gypsie Georgia. GG to my friends,” I said. He didn’t budge. “You can call me Gypsie.”
Sue and I ordered food with the second round and finally got around to complaining about what sent us out drinking to begin with.
“I just want to bartend,” I said.
“You will,” said Sue.
“Not for Roy I won’t,” I said. “I don’t get it. I’ve got a floor full of regulars, why can’t I do that behind the bar?”
John turned to us. “You want to bartend?” he asked. “Give me your number and next time I need someone I’ll call you.” I figured it was a line so I gave him my number and forgot about it. Who is this guy anyway?
A week later and it was Halloween weekend. Chris and I took the hour drive out to his boss’s cabin on the lake with Chris’s trunk full of beer and my bra full of coke. Everyone arrived about the same time—all with trunks full of beer and bras full of coke. It was going to be a party.
And it was. Dinner. Drinking. Dancing. Drugs. All through the night straight through to sunrise when Chris and I took what was left of our coke, and some of what wasn’t, and drove back to my apartment. We smoked some pot, drank some beer, tried to fuck, and then watched a movie.
That afternoon, my phone rang. It was John.
“GG,” he said without a hello, “Be here at 6pm ready to work.” And he hung up.
Holy mother of fuck! I jumped off the couch. I snatched the bag of coke off the coffee table and grabbed a nail of what little there was left and called Sue to find out what the hell bar John was talking about. Apparently he owned that bar. Sue’s bar. She gave me strict instructions: “don’t fuck this up.”
I fucked it up. I was coked out, half drunk, and scared out of my mind. Every damn one of them ate me alive that night. John wasn’t there, but I expected the manager had the authority to fire me.
Instead he told me, “The bar is your stage. If you can play it, you can do the job.” I was to return the following night for a second chance.
That night, and for the next two years, and at two more bars after that, I was the star.