Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Chapter 4

Chapter 4.

It’s the normal Friday hustle and bustle routine, song and prance that we get accustomed to working at the Labyrinth. This is in between rushes, during the expected Friday night 9-10pm lull. The time in between, where the happy hour crowd leaves the bar for a short intermission if you will. This is the time often used to go ride the “white-tiger” or whatever the kids call it these days. It’s when people snort their evening’s hungers away, maybe grab a quick low-carb bite or bowl of "American Fries," then come back out to the bars, drink their way to love and get plastered out of their gords. Some call it Alcoholism, here we call it Friday, Tuesday, pick a day of the week. It's the American way! Here people get wasted enough to not feel embarrassed dancing like little deaf-white-girls to any Madonna tune alone, on a dance floor full of men who are all dancing to different beats and sweating profusely with moth-ball breath. A gay bar’s dance floor has a certain stench that I can only describe as furniture show room meets a gym locker room, with a hint of Axe body spray.

Customers leave and chase the ski slopes with their dollar bills that they later spend on booze or put down a go-go dancer’s jock strap. Then they some of the customers look for guy’s to hook up with and 1-4 hours later explain why they can’t get hard and are grinding their teeth. It’s everything they told you in every afterschool movie/driver’s Ed video, minus the hip 80s haircuts. Unfortunately, in this world, in this place, cocaine is what many people use to have fun, and numb their feelings, nose, and face much the way Botox does. Who needs feelings when you can numb them? I digress. The “key-train” part of the night is just my assumption based on the fact many of the weekend customers can often be found grinding their teeth, while their noses run into their and mothball-stentched mouths and they don’t even seem to notice.

Now I realize how prevalent and stupidly obvious cokeheads often are at the Labyrinth. Within a 5-minute period here, one can observe three customers in a row order a drink while they have boogies running down their face and into their numbed, over lips that undoubtedly are covered in the latest lip-gloss Claire’s offers. When I point out the mess on their face, similar to the way one treats a toddler, I offer him a napkin. I’m trying to be of help. Then the customer smiles, tells me to fuck off and tells the bartender they are recovering from a “cold.” Everyone knows that nothing compliments a cold like a night of coke and booze. I’m thinking if you were recovering from a cold, why are you at a bar? Then I remember the mantra I have learned, gay men aren’t quitters. A second later, as he is walking away, the bi-polar bitch tells me that I am “adorable.” Being that I am adorable as this asshole puts it, the compliments is always lackluster from these cokeheads since its usually said in a sarcastic tone, where you cannot tell if they are complimenting or putting you down. It’s at this very moment that these gay men use every mean trick they learned from being teased by the popular kids and use it as material on people like me, who call them out on it.

My self-esteem is really low, even lower than it was when I was a chubby 12-year old and Monica Gambini would yell at me across the playground, “hey, ever heard of a thigh-master?” I would pretend not to hear that bitch Monica. Who I always hoped would end up a stripper with 5 kids who ended up more fat than the lady from “Who’s Eating Gilbert Grape.” After Monica’s bull-shit, I would then walk to my best friend, a janitor and eat three of those carnation ice creams, which of course they sold at my school. Then follow with a healthy bag of flaming hot cheetos, to compliment my white-trashiness.
Presently, I do not know where Monica is. I guess I shouldn’t have used her real name for the story. Please don’t tell her. I hope she is just graduating from ITTech. No hard feelings!

The second the guy finally walks away for good, all I could smell is the hospital sent, like that of mothballs. It makes me want a sedative or at least a magical brownie to tide me over and keep me from slicing the overly manicured faces of the lovely patrons around me. Not that I would really do that, especially if my mother is reading. Being that my job here at this point is barbacking, it is to clean everything up here, I am not into making more of a mess than necessary.

As I come behind the bar James is cleaning his bottles and chatting with Johnny about how he’s seen Johnny’s trick of the week out earlier with another guy. It’s moments like this that makes me call the bar Castro high. Then Johnny tells James that his guy is like every San Francisco gay man and in an “open relationship.” Come to think of it, in my infantile experience, this seems to be true. In San Francisco, for some reason most long term gay man relationships are actually open ones. Being a young, inexperienced gay who is still optimistic and still clinging to the idea that love exists, this concept makes no sense to me (This was in a world that was different, before we knew that Ricky Martin was in fact a marry, queer, sissy-lala too). These couples are be committed to each other, but also openly have some things going on side. Why this is acceptable? I will never truly grasp. I guess you can’t have your cake and eat it too. Actually, you can, and it is delicious.

As I walk past the rambling bar gossip, I go back to my Friday routine. I stock pint glasses at every station. Even though I try to be working away in my own cocoon of thought, I can’t help but notice that everyone around me is gossiping. If it isn’t about their boyfriends of the moment, it’s yesterday’s tricks and tomorrow’s Ex’s. It’s like an episode of 90210 sometimes, but with more sex and less plaid. It is kind of making me sick just listening to everyone’s boring drama and makes me less engaged in being here. All I can think about is how I want to somehow end up at a better job than this. Somewhere I can make a difference.

I am getting to the point where while at work, it’s hard to be productive. While I look like that is what I am doing, mentally I am 2,000 miles away. In my mind, beneath the little afro of hair on my head, I am on a far away island watching the tide. I am getting fed grapes by bronzed cabana men, cause why settle for boys in fantasies when you can have chiseled men? While my physical being is at the bar, working this bullshit job, my metaphysical self is working through that daydream. Then Gina quickly snaps me out of it… She comes up from her station to yell at me. At this point I am already in a bad mood and want to tell the bitch to relax and that I’ll get there when I get there, but actually say nothing. She points out that she is in dire need of cold pint glasses right away. She then adds in her Gina way, “you need to wake up and start paying attention for god sakes.”
In my head, I am thinking, “bitch, get your own fucking pint glass and stop being rude! I have some day dreaming to get back to.”

In my head I am also imagining Julio and Avi arguing over who gets to wash my cloths. They of course are in Israeli Military uniform that is all tattered, cause that’s hot. The world knows that Israeli men are utterly gorgeous so I always have at least one on hand in my dreams. Word to the wise, Israeli men are much like Latin men of the middle east, without the Catholic-guilt bullshit and less likely to live with their mothers.

Gina likes being the resident belabusta , which is Yiddish for bossy person who thinks they’re in charge, even when they aren’t. That person who always has to be the leader of the group or whatever they take part in, because that’s just how they roll. What I probably am not considering or caring about is that she really is trying to get her job done so she could make both of us money. She is simply calling me out for not focusing on my job, which today is true. But because she gives me honest constructive, criticism, I should for the moment, like my co-workers, write her off as being the bitch I want to be.
I also find out later, that Gina herself she is working, stepping on eggshells because she had just been reprimanded for apparently over pouring a drink a day or two earlier by one second. Our bar’s shot pour standard is 4 seconds then. The cameras apparently caught her going over that by a second, which equals one ounce in theory. Now somebody is out to get her. She just wants to keep her job because it does allow her a good standard of living. The over pouring slip/moment in question is of course caught on the surveillance camera of our elusive bar owner who is always watching us. Shit, he is probably watching us from home right now. I imagine one screen with “the Bachelor,” “Matlock” or whatever he watches and another screen with us working.

I rush over to Gina’s station to stock her precious pint glasses. As I reach into the drop down of her station, Nick the MD to be/bartender is performing for some customers right behind me. Being the show off that he is, he bounces his big ass around while shaking some drink. He’s one of those black guys, much like Wayne Brady. He acts stereotypically black only when he needs to, but generally acts like a white guy raised in the burbs. When he works though, he often is not aware of his surroundings. It’s like working with Big-foot. You never know what he will do. He is usually too busy looking for "hot," Jewish Doctors and Lawyers” in the bar. The rest of us have developed a third eye on the back of our heads that help us maneuver our way around the Labyrinth bar.

Nick has no idea about this third-eye business, nor does he care about those around him when he is working. He is very into making his money and calls himself a self-elected Jew of the bar (even though he was raised Baptist), as an actual Jew I’ll speak for all of us when I say the following:

1. No one wants to be Jewish, it just happens.
No one goes to a plastic surgeon and says, “I can get a little ski-slope nose no, no, no I want the Barbara Streisand Beak.”
2. We don’t want Nick; the rest of the world can have him. Nick always focuses his attention on the person with the money in their hands that is within his hand’s reach, like a whore in a red-light district. He is almost at good at guilt trips as my mother. He can guilt anyone to investing in anything he does, from cocktails to a date. The Goy has the skills of an old Jewish woman and the money sense of a Donald Triumph.

As Nick is hitting on some customer and putting a bottle back in it’s place which belong behind him, near his register. He did this without looking. In this course he also accidentally pushes me into the pint glasses I am putting away. This causes a domino effect of problems. This is when the nightmare begins. This action, in turn makes one of the pint glasses shatter into a beautiful glittery rain that looks like an explosion around my hand of glass dismemberment, which drizzles everywhere. Then a huge shard of glass is then push into the skin about three inches above my inner left wrist. I am so in shock that, I almost don’t believe that this happening. As I pull my arm out of the drop down cooler, I could see a piece of my flesh just dangling. I can’t see how deep the cut is, but all I can see is blood. I drop everything and run into the back room. Nick is still chatting with the customer oblivious to what just happened.

On the way to the back room, there are little trails of blood to show where I have been. In a fluster furry, I open the first aid kit that the bar has. Like a cruel joke, it’s of course empty, full of just a pile of napkins and 3 tiny band-aids, and a tampon. I have a double take moment. Being that this is a men’s gay bar, a tampon is highly unusual in our first aid kits. I would more likely expect to find lube or even glitter before a fucking tampon.
I start laughing hysterically, while still unsure as to why I am laughing at a horrible moment like this. I am a person who tends to laugh at the wrong moments. I am the guy who laughs at funerals, any religious ceremony, any of life’s generally awkward moments. When I look at any full-length mirror and during romantic moments in movies when most people cry. I laugh at the sight of bad news, and most people find it revolting. Sorry. Get over it.

I pick up the napkins I find to soak up all the blood. James walks by and asks if I am okay, while he stares at my arm from a distance. His face look horrified. James asks me if I will be able to work the rest of my shift, and whether I have insurance. Right after the words leave his mouth he sees my face instantly turn red. This is the point where if I was a cartoon steam comes out of my ears. I start laughing uncontrollably for some reason. It’s the type of laugh that is more scary than cute.
I am getting even more upset by this point. I am starting to simmer with James’ question and the evening’s predicaments. The fact that he has the gaul to ask me such a bazaar question as I have a piece of my own flesh dangling from my arm is ridiculous.
I go from laughing like a crazy person to complete silence, give James an evil stare and tell, “yeah, I’ll work. We can turn this place into a fucking making bloody Mary bar tonight.”

As I stare at my mangled arm I begin to feel a subtle sharp, throbbing. It is getting worse with every second that I stare at the blood-infused napkin covering up the glass battle wound. I catch a glance of my face in the Hello Kitty mirror of the back room. My own expression freaks me out. It’s like a weird Mona Lisa expression and now my face looks pale. I have a look of “what the fuck should I do, I want my mom-face.”

I am almost in a trance staring at my arm as Gina storms in to the back room, which seem to just be adding to my angst. My heart starts beating faster and there now is a vein on my forehead popping up that I have never seen before. Gina asks me if I am okay. She then picks up the injured arm and looks at the dangling piece of flesh and inspects it like she knows what to do. She is inspecting my arm like a mother does. It’s like she instantly turned into the professor from “Gilligan’s Island.” Maybe she will turn my arm into a radio, but we don’t have coconuts. Gina then goes to tells James who is freaking out at the other end of the backroom, to get us more napkins and to “chill the fuck out.” I am truly loving her style at this point. She looks into my horrified eyes, which are now more upset and worried about loosing my job, than the actual injury. She reads me very quickly, even though I try to conceal my emotions from her. She tells me that I will be employed next week and have nothing to worry about. She says that I need to relax. She then shows me a scar in the same spot as my dangling flesh, on her right wrist. I start to think great, she is trying to fucking bond right now and turn this into an episode of “Oprah.” I get pissed for a millisecond and all of a sudden calm down. Apparently she cut her self similarly five-years prior. She speaks calmly, petting my shoulder in a way that only a woman can and tells me that I will be fine. She says that I like her am “tough as nails.” I don’t know how true this is, but for the moment she makes me feel like a tough lesbian, which is way better than I felt before this conversation and tougher than any man I know. Gina hands me $20 dollars and tells me to go take a cab to the hospital for stitches, to call her later and let me know how it all turns out. She makes it seem like it was just another normal day. She has this way about her that makes me calm down. From that moment on, the pain is gone and I have adrenaline that is getting me through this.

I am waiting for four hours alone in the emergency room to get seven stitches. It’s now 5a.m. and I arrive to this sanitized, odd-smelling hospital ER an 11:30 pm the day before. I find a Vic den that I guess someone slipped into my pocket before leaving the bar. I don’t know who the magical fairy is that left this treat. I don’t think about it though to consider where it came from. I of course take it instantly and start to choke in the emergency room. Needless to say, I got to cut the line right away.
The odd thing is that, if it wasn’t for Gina I could see myself freaking out in that cold sterile place that is the ER. Because of her, I don’t feel alone in the waiting room and know that all will prevail. I’m like a little kid; excited to see what kind of scar this adventure will leave me.

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