"How much is it?" I asked the bartender and pointed to the bottle of Miller Lite he just placed before me on the bar counter.
He smiled at me and his lip ring sparkled in the dim lights of the club. "It's on me," he said and walked away to continue his conversation with his co-worker who was texting someone on his Nokia. The bar area was slow last ngiht, and even the dance floor was not that crowded. I wondered if everyone went down to Jersey shore for the weekend.
I also wondered if it was just me or if the bartender was being flirtatious with me. As far as I knew he had a girlfriend who also worked at this same club in the winter as a coat check girl. Before I knew those two were going out, I actually got Coat Check Girl's number for my friend DJ, as he was too timid to ask her himself. That night I got drunk, and when I'm drunk I'm astonishingly brave so in those instances I always offer my friends to hit on the people they like. What can I say? I am a good friend.
After telling the Coat Check Girl that "my friend really likes you and was wondering if he could have her number", I was informed by her that while she thought DJ was cute, she was living with her ex-boyfriend who also a bartender at this very same club and they were trying to get back together but she really wasn't sure if she wanted him back... I stopped listening after she said she was living with the Bartender. I nodded and smiled and I still ended up getting the girl's number for DJ. They went out on one date while the girl was still living with the Bartender. One date and it was over. Hmm, I wonder why.
I stopped seeing her at the club after the weather got warmer and people didn't need to wear their jackets any more but the bartender remained, faithfully handing me Miller Lite - my usual first drink of the night - every time he saw me walking up to the bar. He would hand it to me and declare the price, either two or four dollars depending on whether or not there were any drink specials that night. Yesterday though, the drink was free. I didn't mind that price and I didn't mind the way he smiled at me just before he walked away. A cute guy, a little short and too many tattoos for my liking, but he had cute dimples and a nice body. Dimples and a six pack work for me.
I was supposed to meet DJ at the club but he was running late so I ended up sitting on my bar stool and texting my friend from Michigan for a long time. I managed to successfully avoid eye contact with a shady man sitting next to me by starring and typing away dilligently on my phone.
Around midnight the Bartender walked up to me and placed a shot glass with something clear in it. Vodka, perhaps? I smelled the liquid and was taken aback by the smell of alcohol hitting my nostrils.
"What is this?" I asked the Bartender.
"Patron," he pointed to a half-empty bottle of pricey tequila he just put back on the shelf.
"Ah, the good stuff," I said and then noticed the empty shot glass he was still holding in his hand, "Looks like you already drank your shot though. I'm not gonna do this one by myself. Come on, have another one with me."
The bartender laughed at my response and without saying another word, reached up to the shelf to grab the bottle of Patron. We both raised our shot glasses in a silent acknowledgement of each other and as the tequila hit my lips, I did my best not to grimace. Tequila was never my drink of choice but who was I to refuse a freebie.
I was about to say thank you, but I was rudely (thought I'm sure he didn't view it as a gesture of rudeness) interrupted by a short, stocky man whose name sounded like Merlot (I couldn't really hear him that well over the loud music). I didn't bother to ask him his name again, I didn't feel like he was worth investing the effort of the question in. Merlot, then, asked me if I liked the music that was playing at the club, and I replied that the music was the sole reason I came that night. We talked for a few minutes, the tequila was hitting me, and against my better judgement, I gave my screen name to Merlot upon his request. He asked for my number first but I made up some bull shit excuse about me not giving out my number easily. He insisted on getting my screen name though because he wanted me to see his "band" in NYC.
"We're gonna open up for Jedi Mind Tricks. You should come see us," he looked at me to see my reaction after he named dropped the name of a semi-famous hip-hop group. I didn't care. I didn't want to give Merlot the false hope that I was interested in going. Luckily, at that moment, I saw DJ making his way through the dance floor, looking around in search of me.
"Yeah, maybe...." I said, slowly getting up from my bar stool, "I gotta go say hi to my friend. You've got my screen name, right?"
"Sure, sure... I'll definitely IM you with more details... Come back and have a drink with me later on tonight..."
I'm sorry, Merlot. I'm sorry if I was leading you on. It wasn't me, it was the tequila talking.