“I was in several years ago,” said the man standing in the gap between two couples.
OK, I nodded.
“You had a red wine by the glass?” he continued.
OK, I nodded again.
“Do you remember what it was?”
Of course I don’t remember what it was. Wines by the glass change all the time in the restaurant business. They change vintages, they change varietals, they change producers. But people often remember events significant to themselves, whether or not they are significant to anyone else is irrelevant. In the restaurant business there is a birthday or an anniversary, or a personal milestone every single day. And those are the big ones. Smaller things like a glass of wine from several years ago, well, there just isn’t enough memory capacity for things like that.
“Do you remember us?” asked the well-appointed woman I recognized from the week before. Now these two women I did remember.
Dressing for dinner might be a lost art, but not everybody knows that or cares. These two women didn’t. But I remembered them more from the lively personal interaction that we had shared, and not so much for the attire. What they drank was another matter.
“I’ll have my usual,” said one of them.
A “usual” is going to take more than two or three times to get imprinted on the memory of one who cranks out dozens of “usuals” in a single day.
But two new “usuals” later – pear lemon drops if anyone cares – and we delved back into the liveliness.
“Do you remember that guy we were talking to?” asked the designated spokeswoman.
I did recall a man in a stocking cap, scruffy goatee, and hipster glasses. I also remembered that he was quite a bit younger than me, making him significantly younger than those two ladies.
“Vaguely,” I said.
“He sort of offended us,” replied the woman.
That I didn’t remember. I did have a vague recollection of silly sexual innuendo, and flirtatious jokes, and the exchange of relationship statuses.
“Didn’t he buy you some drinks?” I asked.
“He did,” she replied.
“Didn’t you buy him a drink?” I asked remembering a detail.
I guessed that wasn’t the offensive part.
“Do you know what he asked us?” asked the other woman.
“I bet I can guess,” I responded in the spirit of liveliness.
“I bet you can’t,” she replied.
“Did he ask about a threesome?”
Both women were visibly shocked.
“How did you know that?” asked both of them practically in unison.
I see things like that all the time. It’s not that a majority of people do them, but when you deal with crowds of people every night, a minority, even a small minority, is pretty significant.
“Why would he ask us something like that?” inquired the other lady.
I likened it to fishing.
“He was probably just dangling bait,” I said.
“Well, we were both pretty offended,” they replied, nodding their heads vigorously.
I continued with the fishing analogy.
“Some people like to chum the waters and just see what turns up,” I said.
They looked at me blankly.
“You know. Spread a bunch of bait around and then see what happens?”
Again, blank stares.
“Like the guy who caught the biggest bass ever in that one fishing spot, and still casts his lure there every time in the hopes of catching another one?” I offered.
They had no idea what I was talking about.
“I’m sure it had nothing to do with you two,” I said finally. “He probably would have said that to anyone.”
The two ladies didn’t seem particularly pleased with that answer. Apparently being a significant minority is preferable to being an insignificant majority.
I delivered several drinks to several other people, making the rounds as bartenders do. When I returned to the two ladies, they had a question.
“Do you know that guy?” they asked.
“Which guy?” I asked looking around.
“The guy who propositioned us?”
“So, he doesn’t come here often?” asked her friend.
It was only then that I realized that those two ladies were back in the exact same seats, at the exact same time, on the same night, that they had been in before.
Leaving me with these thoughts:
-“The lady doth protest too much, me thinks, once wrote William Shakespeare. Hamlet, Act III, Scene ii.
-Offense can only happen if someone cares.
-Understanding a metaphor is different than inhabiting it.
-In customer service, managing the expectations of one person can be difficult, and two people exponentially more difficult. It must take a whole different set of skills to manage the expectations of three.
-Bartenders hear, and remember, a lot more than they let on.
-Case and point: Sean Thackrey’s Pleiades. That red wine, if memory serves.