Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Its late Friday night and my shift is nearly over. The cold moist glass; heavy, filled with mostly ice, nearly slips through the grip of my hand and onto the floor of The Romantic, a high-end classy restaurant, where I waste my existence earning a wage, located on the upper north side of the city. People with more than money come here just to taste the delights and mysteries of rare wines and bizarre foods for just a moment before their throats selfishly suck it down into the deepest pits and pockets of the stomach’s of the world’s filthy rich.
As I fight the overwhelming exhaustion of an eight hour shift during the busiest time of the week I reinstate my grasp on the glass and approach, what I hope to be, my last table of the night.
Located in the middle of the main dining room sits a lonely stranger, probably 50 or so, he looks like he comes from immense riches; wearing a tightly tailored black jacket perfectly contrasted by the crisp white unbuttoned shirt underneath. As I approach the table, weaving in and out of animals feasting in diamonds, exotic dresses and dark tuxedos and the chatters that they make interrupted by the sounds of clashing fine silver and rare chinas. I notice the stranger is extremely white, almost a pasty white, this reminded me of the walls of a hospital, that was once disguised by the contrasting black and whites in his suit. I start to set the wet glass on his table and the sounds of ice on glass immediately grab every bit of his attention pulling his stare deep into the mixture of ice and water that is still in my hand. His beady little eyes with black pupils no bigger than a pinhead encircled by a vast redness and crust are enclosed by the rest of the mess of skin called a face that only accentuates his eyes more. His rough grainy face violently sags around his eyes sending baggy ripples throughout his cheeks to only clash against the corners of his thin lips like waves bashing the sands of a beach. His thin fragile lips are scattered with the scars of character and the winkles of age that echo onto his chin. The face of a leathery bulldog, what a mug.
His eyes still fixated on the sounds of ice contained by glass as I lower it below his chin and just as I begin to greet him he interrupts “rum,” after that a long pause, blank unfulfilled noise, that interrupts the sounds of sophisticated chatters both of the animals and their tools surrounding us. “Keep it coming,” he says “I want it to flow like the blood under my skin.” “Sir,” I say “if you plan to drink heavily tonight I recommend the bar, or even the liquor store up two blocks and….” “Shh,” the bulldog interrupts as his focus comes off the glass of ice and directly through my eyes burning a hole out the back of my skull. “Keep it coming,” he says again, this time slower letting the words slip through the crackled yellow chain saw he has as teeth and unto his weathered lips into the canyons of my ear as he slips a $100 bill into the pocket of my uniformed pants.
I immediately head for the bar, pondering the depths of his depression, and come back with a few shots to numb his pain but, no answers. When I returned he had once again found interest in the glass, untouched still, now soaked in condensation. Setting his remedy in front of him he says “thanks” and I turn and begin to walk away. Just as I get far enough for me to ignore his call, as if I didn’t hear it, “waiter” echoes in my head, I hesitate but decide to walk back towards the lonely bulldog.
Walking towards him he gulps down a shot. “I went on a blind date earlier” he explains as he sets the empty shot glass down and quickly picks up another, “no luck?” I jokingly question. “No, none at all, the date was literally blind,” I bite my tongue hard to keep from laughing but it can’t stop the movements of my lips and as he continues to tell his story he explains that he didn’t mind at all the fact that his date could only see utter darkness it was the fact that he had opened up and put down his shield to allow her to navigate and probe the ripples and waves of his face with her finger tips to get a feel for his looks and directly after doing the deep exploration needed she left. “Just left me,” he said and down went another shot, flung directly into the deep origins of his stomach like its water. “I didn’t get anything out of it except for the pain of being ugly that you, my friend, are helping me heal.” And just as he picks up the last shot of thick gold rum and tips in my direction, making the rich alcohol nearly spill and stir in the tiny glass sending quivers down my spin he says “fuck it, how much?” “how much for what,” I question, “Well to start the drinks, and to temporarily stop the pain of loneliness, you for the night?”