The first time I drank alcohol in a bar I was sixteen and in Germany. It was legal. I have a picture of that thrill. I have a big, drunk girl smile on my face.
Four years later I once again drank alcohol in a bar for the first time. Illegally this time. I was twenty and not in Germany. I can still picture that thrill.
I had been to the same bar once before, on a date. Daniel, my date — a hipster-emo, brooding hunk of a photographer — took me to quaint, grimy little city diner for dinner. He ordered a Rolling Rock for his drink. I had never heard of Rolling Rock (because I had been living under a rock) and so, of course, I said, “I’ll have one too.”
The server brought two green bottles to the table. I gave mine to Daniel. Not that I was against underage drinking. Germany for one, and pool parties, house parties, and after parties for two. But not at a bar. For whatever reason that bothered me just like not having sex until I was out of high school: I wanted my future self to be able to say I didn’t (sneak in to bars, tramp around the football field).
Daniel drank his Rolling Rock and mine. I ate my grilled cheese and tomato on sourdough sandwich, and I was happy. Not because the date was going so well. No. I was eating grilled cheese in a sketchy diner while my date drank beer. I was happy because I was giving Daniel a second chance and I knew he wasn’t worth this second chance that a mutual acquaintance had suggested I give him, and he was proving me right.
Daniel had been my prom date. Daniel and my friend Nora had a great prom. I called my parents to get home. I had no interest in giving Daniel a second chance. But he was a fantastically hot photographer, and I fancied that someday I too would be a fantastically hot photographer.
After dinner we walked a few blocks, for why? I can’t remember. And then Daniel opened a narrow blue door revealing steep stairs, painted black, with a rickety rail and one fluorescent light at the top where there was another blue door, cracked open and leaking laughter.
“Where are we?” I said.
“It’s a place called Upstairs,” he said.
“Fitting,” I said, and went upstairs.
It was tiny. We sat at the bar. Daniel introduced me to the bartender, Billy, and then ordered a Rolling Rock for him and a chocolate martini for me. Billy carded me. Daniel and I left.
Some time passed, though not enough, and I’m back in front of the little blue door. Roommate is opening it this time, and Jason and Michael are already half-way up the stairs. I follow.
I turn around and face Roommate once the door shuts behind him.
“He’s not going to serve me,” I said.
“Yes he will,” he said.
“Daniel tried to bring me here,” I said. “The bartender carded me.”
“That’s because Daniel is a douchebag.”
“Shut up,” I said, and smacked him. “I’m twenty.”
“Two. Twenty-two. And it doesn’t matter. He won’t card you.”
I ordered a chocolate martini. Billy the Bartender served me his neighborhood-famous chocolate martini. I became a regular.
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