Stories: “Excuse me, Bartender!”
My girlfriend at the time and I took a seat at the bar of a restaurant while waiting for a table to have dinner. When we took our seats, the bartender, a pretty woman who was wearing a spaghetti strapped shirt, jeans, and big hair walked over to us. She laid down two bar napkins in front of us, turned to me and asked me first what I would like to drink.
I thought it was a mistake. In all my years working in restaurants throughout high school and college, one of the paramount rules was women always order first, matter of fact, everything concerning the service requires the woman goes first. This was even more true in fine dining establishments similar to the one where my ex-girlfriend and I were having dinner. I turned to my ex and asked her what she wanted. My ex looked at the bartender and with a slight hint of attitude ordered a mojito. I placed my order and when the bartender went to make our drinks, I asked my ex if everything was okay. She insisted it was but I could tell her woman’s intuition was picking up on something I wasn’t.
The bartender brought the drinks over and in what I thought was another mistake looked at my ex and asks if we’re paying now or starting a tab. I intervene and say we’ll start a tab. The bartender looks back at me, then asks for my ID and a card. When I hand her my California ID she says, “Oh so you’re from California.” She then peppers me with questions about where I’m from in California, how long I’ve lived in New York City, and why I moved. Admittedly, I got caught up in the little Q&A session we were having, but flirting I was not. I didn’t even ask her any of the same questions she asked me. I knew better. Out of my peripheral I saw my ex already finished half her drink. She then slams down her glass and yells, “Excuse me…” At that exact moment, the hostess came over to us and says, “Your table is ready.”
Startled by my ex raising her voice, I looked over at her, she was scowling at the bartender so I told her to go to our table, I’d buy us two more drinks and square up the bill. My ex said no, instructed me to order the drinks in front of her, then turned to the bartender and said, “And. Close. The. Tab.”
The bartender gave her a look back and I finally saw what was happening. My ex was about to fight this bartender. I received our bill, signed the receipt, and allowed the hostess to lead my ex and I to our table. When we’re seated, my ex was still heated. I’m laughing though because I have never seen my ex this upset with anyone but me. The bartender was obviously flirting with me with no regard for my ex, even though it was plain to see we were together. My ex, not amused by my laughter, looked at me like I did something wrong. I reminded her I didn’t ask the bartender any questions, I just said answered them. “Besides,” I told her. “It’s not like you said something to stop her.” My ex said, “If I’d have said anything, it would have been a kick to her head right over the bar.” I laughed some more and said, “Okay, Lucy Lui. Now you’re one of Charlie’s Angels.”
At this point, I was totally instigating the matter. Even though I find any fighting outside of competitive combat childish, immature, and not a good look no matter the gender involved, seeing my ex upset with another woman for the way she interacted with me was oddly a turn on.
“Calm down,” I told my ex. “She was into your man, you didn’t say anything, and now you’re here at the table talking about what you would have done. You’re not going to do anything but sip on that drink.”
“Oh, I’m not going to do anything,” my ex asked.
“No,” I said. “Don’t get me wrong, all this you’re giving me is turning me on, but that’s not your style.” It was the truth.
I don’t date girls who fight or even like to fight. One of the first questions I ask a woman I’m dating is when was the last time she fought. Consider all the women I date are usually in their mid-to-late 20s, this is a good background check question. Should the woman say something like, “Two weeks ago,” we probably won’t last. If she says, “High school,” I know she’s safe. When my ex and I were first dating, she said the last time she was in a fight was in college, and I forget the details, but it was something involving a basketball game. I let it slide, that was enough time passed. She wasn’t a fighter, though she had the pedigree of one. She was tall, athletic, and public school educated. But she was a lady first and foremost. She had class about her and always smiled. Even the men in our neighborhood who would call for her attention when she walked down the street received a polite denial. To hear others tell it, I had a sweet woman who looked like she had every right not to be.
My ex was drinking her drinks fast. I told her to slow down. She raised her lips from her straw and said, “I’m not going to do anything?”
Now, I was getting nervous. “Umm, you better not do anything,” I said. “This is a nice place. You see these napkins? Real linen.” This was my effort to make her laugh. It wasn’t working. She takes another sip.
“Slow down on that drink,” I said.
She stopped drinking and said, “You’re right, I’m not going to do anything. I’m going to the bathroom.”
“Good,” I said. ” Go cool off. What do you want to eat, I’ll order for us.”
My ex said the jerk chicken and I stood up as she left the table. I went back to scanning the menu, trying to decide what I want to eat, not even thinking there was a slight possibility my ex was lying about going to the bathroom. Out of nowhere, I hear some yelling in the distance. “EXCUSE ME! BARTENDER! BARTENDER!” It was the sound of my ex.
I have stayed in a burning building longer than I stayed at my table. Once I recognized my ex’s voice, I grabbed our coats off the chairs, grabbed her purse, and ran down the stairs (we were sitting on the top level of the restaurant). The scene at the bar was slightly chaotic. Everyone was staring at either my ex or the bartender who was clear on the other side of the bar. It was slightly funny to see because my ex could have gone over to where she was but I think she was trying to intimidate her. It was as though my ex was daring her to walk over. There was a manager and the hostess standing right behind my ex saying, “Mam, mam, mam, can you quiet down.” I rushed through the lounge area, went right behind my ex, and wrapped my arm around her midsection. “What the hell are you doing?” I said in her ear. “You look crazy right now. Come on.” She also looked hot and primed to whoop that bartender. At this point, I’m totally turned on. I may not find fighting attractive, but I must admit, when you’re dating the woman who has the advantage, it does something to you that is unexplainable.
My ex yelled in her direction, “No, no, she wanted to ask you all these questions, I got some questions for her!” I started pulling my ex back from the bar. I apologized to the hostess, the manager, and yell to everyone watching, “Sorry everyone! I’m sorry!”
Once outside, I grabbed my ex by the shoulders and tell her to get a hold of herself. She’s breathing hard but calming down. I drape her coat over her and grab her hand. My ex said, “I really would have kicked that girl if she walked over.”
“I know,” I said. “Let’s go home, We’ll order in and you can take out all that aggression on me.”
The Process: I jumped rope on Wednesday for 20 minutes. Two days later, my calves are still mad at me. I can’t run today as a result. Of course, this pisses me off
Poppin’ Questions Podcast: I recorded Episode 31 today, but it wouldn’t load on my computer, which means I’m pushing it back to next week. In the meantime, for those who haven’t, check out Episode 30. Click here to listen! Hit me on my Formspring or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a question to be considered on a future episode of the Poppin’ Questions Podcast.
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Writings elsewhere: Click here to read this piece I wrote for THE AWL about the new wave of R&B. THE AWL is a great site where some of the best writer’s today contribute. It’s my first piece for them, and it’s very important to me. Also, in last month’s issue of PAPER Magazine, I wrote a profile on Aloe Blacc. Yesterday, I discovered PAPER apublished it on their website. Click here to read. As always, thanks for the love!