Nobody forgets their first kiss

The bachelorette party rolled in the door late — not so late that we weren’t open, but later than one would expect for a group of eight, especially on a weeknight.

When I used to work in nightclubs, I had several jobs where I didn’t even go to work until 11 p.m. Those places gave last call at 1:30 a.m. and trust me, those two and half hours were some of the most intense cocktail making that I have ever done. And I have done a lot.

Three espresso martinis, two cosmos, two Sancerres and a sparkling rosé gave a pretty accurate breakdown of the age ranges of this group. The tiara and smeared mascara gave away the bride-to-be. Her maid of honor I recognized immediately.

“Hey there,” I said. “Long time no see.”

“You remember me?” she said, visibly stunned behind her long eyelashes.

“I do,” I said.

“Oh yeah?” said one of the entourage, slightly more hostile than one would expect of a friend.

She was neither the bride-to-be nor the maid of honor. Exactly where she fit in wasn’t immediately clear. Interpersonal dynamics are always tough to discern — at least initially — and bachelor/bachelorette parties are often all about interpersonal dynamics. We all laughed at 2011’s “Bridesmaids” and the three “Hangover” films. And that is for good reason. Dysfunctional interpersonal dynamics are funny — from the outside looking in.

But sometimes in the bar business, you get pulled through the proscenium arch right onto the stage.

“What’s her name then?” asked Ms. Hostile.

“Tammy,” I said without hesitating.

“How on earth do you remember that?” asked both Tammy and Ms. Hostile almost in unison.

“You never forget your first kiss,” I answered, trying to be both provocative and funny.

That certainly got their interest.

Tammy started to explain.

“I used to come here with my ex-husband,” she said, greatly underselling the circumstances.

“Marty,” I said, shocking her once again.

They did used to come here, with groups of friends, all spread out throughout the bar. They were “social butterflies.” In fact, so much so that it was impossible to tell if they were a couple or not. She was out front with that guy while he was in the corner with that other woman — and then vice versa. It was a time of Jägermeister and Rolling Rock — and bad decisions, but fun-bad decisions, apparently.

In the bar business, people tend to gravitate towards friends who say yes, not no. People bond over saying yes to the side of French fries, not saying no to one more whatever. No great bar story ever starts with “I ordered a salad with the dressing on the side.”

And this couple’s friends said yes — a lot. All I can say is thank goodness for taxicabs back then (and for ride shares these days). Fun is fun, but one should never drink and drive.

But sometimes drinking and not driving creates a whole different dynamic. Liquor law stipulates that you cannot serve a visibly intoxicated person. Whether or not they are driving is not necessarily part of the equation. But sometimes people are just strange or different, and not necessarily intoxicated. And therein lies the rub.

Marty was rubbing up on a woman who wasn’t Tammy while Tammy was sitting on some guy-not-named-Marty’s lap.

Now, I don’t judge, but one of the cocktail servers apparently did.

“Are you two some sort of swingers?” she asked Tammy.

Boy was that the wrong thing to ask. Things kind of broke apart at that. There was some yelling, some hair pulling, a little pushing, a spilled drink or two, a manager, a police call, a complaint letter and a HR inquiry. Oh, and there was a kiss.

Tammy blushed at the memory of her past intruding into her present. Sometimes when we look back at our youth it is impossible to recognize the person we once were.

“Tell us about kissing Tammy,” asked Ms. Hostile.

“I didn’t kiss Tammy,” I said. “Marty kissed me.”

For some inexplicable reason, when I came out from behind the bar way back then, Marty had grabbed me by the face and planted a big wet kiss on me. It was the only time I have ever had that happen, and it was the subject of that HR inquiry.

Leaving me with these thoughts:

• Nobody forgets their first kiss, no matter how pleasant or unpleasant it may have been.

• Things that happened in the past don’t necessarily stay in the past.

• “We have an open relationship,” a customer once said to my female co-worker. To which my co-worker replied: “Does she know that?”

• Marriages are all about compromise, but sometimes it is the compromise that ends the marriage.