Last weekend I had a wonderfully flamboyant gay man staying at the hotel. Besides having a ridiculously loud and high laugh, he complimented each drink I served him telling his friends repeatedly that he loved me. I loved him too.
Then he suddenly remembered something.
“I can’t believe what I did last night, oh my God,” he said.
“Well there was this lady, and she was all about me, and so we were drinking all night and doing shots. I knew I was at my drinking limit but she kept buying more, so I did that one bartender trick? With the water?…”
“I know the one, take a shot, take a drink, spit the shot out,” I said.
“YEAH! So I took the shot and then put the water glass to my mouth and just spit it out. But then SHE thought that HER shot was too harsh, and so she reached for my water to chase it, and she took a sip, and said, ‘there’s something in this water!’ Oh my God, I was dying!”
I scrunched up my nose. “So she drank your shot backwash water?”
He nodded and laughed. “I couldn’t tell her though, no one knew but me.”
“Gross!” We smiled at each other, in on the secret of some woman who was better off not knowing what was in the water she’d had the night before. “I have one for you,” I told the guy.
“So one night I served this couple some appetizers right before I closed the kitchen. And they had like, mozzarella sticks and edamame. They killed the motz sticks, but only ate about half their edamame. And instead of using the extra bowl for their garbage, they were just putting the chewed pods back onto the same plate as the untouched beans. Then they left and this drunk dude came in and sat beside where they had been. He asked me if the kitchen was open, and I told him it wasn’t. I went to grab him some delivery menus, and when I came back to the bar, he was eating from their leftover edamame dish, only he couldn’t distinguish their chewed garbage from the good food, so everything went into his mouth!”
The guy laughed loudly, and I laughed at his laugh.
When I left work that day I kept thinking about things that only drunk people do. The worst I’d ever seen happened on New Year’s Eve one year. I was stuck cocktail waitressing on this horrendous night. And by 5 a.m. I was cranky, tired, and ready for all the drunken stragglers to go home. The crowd had thinned and the bar would be closed soon. I cleaned the empty tables in the bar, dumping all half-drunk drinks into one glass, and taking all the empties to the bar.
Now, this was back in the days when smoking was still legal in bars. I was used to cleaning gum, spit, ash and butts out of ashtrays, and I was used to emptying PBR cans and finding floating cigarettes inside. I worked quickly, dumping, pouring, and tossing out garbage, trying to clean the post-party evidence as fast as I could.
One girl wandered over, wearing a shiny and short dress. I ignored her and began wiping down the tables that I’d successfully cleared off. All of a sudden, I heard her coughing. I walked to her side, and asked, “You okay?”
She fluttered her hand in front of her mouth. “My red bull vodka tastes like cigarettes.”
I looked at what she was holding and instantly felt like vomiting. She had left her friends to cross the empty area of the bar and pick up my swill compilation cup. The contents of this plastic cup included some, if not all of the following: beer, water, ice, vodka, coke, rum, cigarette butts, ash, and small string of phlegm.
I pulled the cup from her weak grip and threw it away. Before I could explain to her what a horrible mistake she’d made, she had wandered off back to where she’d come from, to dance wobbly in her stilettos with her equally drunk friends.
I shrugged and kept cleaning. It was probably better she didn’t know anyway. When it comes to other people’s leftovers and germs, it’s always best to forget.