As a female bartender, it’s interesting to see how men return to their primal instincts and display a mating ritual that has evolved from grunting and banging hairy chests to pathetic pick-up lines and crude remarks. When I initially started bartending, I gave out my number to every guy that asked in fear they would not return to the bar. My phone was full of “Thing 1’s” and “Thing 2’s.” Some of these suitors stick out in memory more than others.
An older man, probably in his late 40s, would come in for a couple beers every time I worked. He always had a smile from ear to ear and even bought me a beautiful pair of Swarovski earrings for Christmas, which I tried to decline politely. Then he asked for my number. Because he was nice enough to go out of his way and buy me something for Christmas, my naivety thought the least I could do was be his friend. To be clear, I told him that we were only friends, thinking that maybe he just needed someone to talk to every now and then. Wrong. The texts I received were something along the lines of “I love you,” or “I’m thinking of you.” I began to think he would randomly pick out a candy heart each day and send me whatever endearing sentiment was on it. I thought I was just being paranoid when I felt him staring at me while eating on my break, but he confirmed this by blatantly saying, “I’m watching you.” Later, even after meeting my boyfriend, he told me that he loved me and was persistent in explaining to me that we were meant to be together. I finally had enough and told him: One, he was too old. Two, I loved my boyfriend. And three, even if we did break up, I would never be with him. Thankfully he got the hint, but unfortunately his ego wasn’t bruised. He still comes in and stares.
Don’t get me wrong – I enjoy coming to work, and bartending can be fun, but I work to pay my bills and get through school. The last thing I want is to come to work and be hassled by men that are not even remotely close to my age who waste my time trying to flatter me when I could be dedicating that time to other customers.
Another man who was a regular offered me the chance to flip houses with him. He had never bothered me – until I gave him my number. I had worked in a real estate office before college, so I had a very basic background on selling and buying homes, but he told me that he wanted me to grow with his company and eventually sell the houses he flipped. On the fourth switch of my major, still not knowing what I wanted to do, this sounded like a great jump-start. Unfortunately, his texts soon suggested he was having a mid-life crisis, and I was his spontaneous motorcycle purchase. The regular was genuine in wanting me to work for him. I met clients with him, and I even visited a few abandoned houses he had bought, but the texts became too uncomfortable, and I wasn’t getting paid. Time is money.
Money may also come in the form of a vacation. One of my daytime regulars suggested that we go to a tropical island together. He was a professional scuba diver and brought in pictures as evidence for my doubts – so why the hell not go? I wanted to learn how to scuba dive, and he was going to pay for everything. I let it swim in my mind for a while before realizing that I was being baited into a compromising situation. Let me also add that he was 20 years my senior, and kissing a man who is the same age as my father was crossing that thin line of morals that I still had.
So, I went for a man that was only 10 years older than me. Contrary to popular belief, screaming, “excuse me” across the bar will not get you a drink any quicker. If anything, we notice how rude you are and continue serving other people.
However, I must confess that I fell for one of those rude, drunk people. I fell for the two things I hate: being hassled by older men and yelling across the bar for my attention. To his defense, he did not hassle me for my number – just for a drink – but when I asked what he wanted to drink, he couldn’t remember. For some reason, his blank response made me blush and, after tipping me well over what was necessary, this love became more than platonic. A year later, I’m still with the lush and managed to still go on vacation to a tropical island – all expenses paid.
Chelsea Thompson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.