My coworker wasn’t having a good night. When she asked to take a break, which was unusual, I said sure. Two minutes after she left, two women walked up to the bar.
Well, not walked — they ambled sideways, going hand over hand to guide themselves into their seats, almost as if they were blind. They had to stop once to go around the lone man sitting at the bar. Their eyes were locked together in an intense stare as if every word uttered was world shattering.
They unwrapped their scarfs methodically, making sure to never break eye contact. One could have hung a 2-foot silk thread between their two noses and it never would have broken.
I approached them and said hello.
They didn’t notice. Instead that unbroken eye contact continued as they both reached under the bar to find hooks for their purses.
I set down two menus.
“Drinks are on the back, food is on the front,” I said.
Two waters later and still no response. But since they were now directly in front of my drink preparing station I could catch bits and pieces of their conversation.
“I’m through with men,” said the brunette.
I looked around for my coworker nervously.
“We are both smart independent women,” said the blonde.
“Damn straight,” said the brunette in a fashion that indicated that the use of profanity was out of character.
“We’re both fierce,” they agreed.
Periodically, I was called away to wait on other customers. But since I had to make drinks in front of them, I made a habit of checking in with them — or more correctly, attempting to check in.
Not once did they acknowledge my presence, not when I refilled their waters twice or when I set down a dessert menu.
“Men just suck,” the brunette said.
“They are terrible,” the blonde added.
I just stood there.
“We should take some time to work on ourselves,” said the blonde, and the brunette agreed.
“We have our careers; we don’t need anything more than that.”
This went on for quite a while, and considering what I had heard, I didn’t think it prudent to forcefully interrupt. Besides, bars are for adults and if an adult has to be coaxed into ordering a drink then you run the risk of being seen as encouraging people to drink, which is a liability issue under California law.
Eventually, one of them had to use the “little girls’ room,” which seemed like an odd statement after their conversation.
The man sitting next to the remaining woman leaned over.
“I’m sorry, but I couldn’t help but overhear you two and I just want to say a smart, beautiful woman like you deserves better than whomever you are talking about.”
She looked at him coolly at first.
“I mean, you seem like you really have it together. Any man would be lucky to have you. If you ever want to talk, here’s my card,” he said, handing it to her. “Call me anytime.”
When her friend returned, she didn’t mention the interaction. And soon enough, she excused herself as well.
The man leaned over again.
“I’m sorry, but I couldn’t help but overhear you two and I just want to say a beautiful, smart woman like you deserves better than whomever you are talking about.”
I did a double take at that double take.
She looked at him coolly as well at first.
Duty called me away once again, a pressing chardonnay emergency farther down the bar. When I returned, I witnessed the card being proffered and accepted.
“Call me anytime.”
When her friend returned, she, too, never mentioned the interaction. The two of them eventually got up, gathered their things and walked out of the bar, both doing everything they could not to notice the man sitting there, except for two furtive glances.
Two men took their places at the bar.
“I’m through with women,” one said, shaking his head.
“Me, too,” his friend agreed.
Leaving me with these thoughts:
• Affirmations at home indicate a willingness to change ourselves. Affirmations in public indicate the exact opposite.
• One man is probably going to get a phone call, maybe two.
• Con artists are successful because they tell you what you want to hear. And sometimes what we want to hear is not what we say we want to hear.
• On their way out the door, the two women had complained to the hostess that the “male” bartender had “completely” ignored them. A “hello,” four menus, three glasses of water each, notwithstanding.
• Generalizations suck, whether about men or women.
• Saying something is different than doing something.
• There will be no more breaks, no matter what.
Jeff Burkhart is the author of “Twenty Years Behind Bars: The Spirited Adventures of a Real Bartender, Vol. I and II,” the host of the Barfly Podcast on iTunes (as seen in the NY Times) and an award-winning bartender at a local restaurant. Follow him at jeffburkhart.net and contact him at jeffbarflyIJ@outlook.com
As Reported by Marin Independent Journal