Vodka & Voltaire
It’s eight o’clock on Saturday night when I belly up to the bar of a TGI Friday’s restaurant near my house. (I don’t want to hear any shit from you foodies.) After a long day spent cleaning, doing laundry, and food shopping, the last thing I want to do is cook.
“Hey there,” the shapely blonde bartender greets me, her corporate mandated smile firmly glued to her face. “Would you like to try one of our premium margaritas?”
“No thanks,” I reply. “I already know what I want.”
“You sure?” the bartender asks, her voice lowering a few seductive octaves. “They’re really good.” I’ll bet that vocal maneuver’s corporate mandated too.
“I’m sure they’re delicious,” I reply. “But I just want a dirty Absolut martini on the rocks.”
As the young bartender turns around to fix my drink I admire her backside. She has a nice one. That doesn’t surprise me. Most female bartenders have nice figures. Sex sells in the restaurant industry – especially where the sale of liquor is concerned. Some restaurants even go so far as to ask for full length body photos before accepting resumes from potential waitstaff. If I ever had to submit photographs to a prospective employer, I’d never have waited a table in my life. Let’s face it, when I was on Oprah I looked like the waiter who ate Cleveland.
“Would you like me to shake that for you?” the bartender asks, turning back towards me.
For a second I wonder if the cute bartender’s engaging in a little double entendre. Then I realize, since I was just ogling her rear end, that the sexual emphasis is self generated and mine alone. Too bad.
“That’s be great,” I reply. “And I like my martini really dirty. So extra olive juice please.”
As I watch the bartender pour olive juice out of the plastic condiment holder into my drink, I mourn the fact that I’m not having the “Well Mannered Dirty Martini” that the Cheesecake Factory puts out. Made with Ketel One vodka and and blue cheese stuffed olives, that drink’s an alcoholic wonder to behold. And the bartenders at the Cheesecake Factory don’t use the olive juice a dozen fingers have been dipped in. They have a special squeeze bottle for just that purpose. That’s class with a capital C. I used to have a patron at my old restaurant who loved that cheesy dirty drink just as much as I did. Whenever he came in I’d fashion him one using olives hand stuffed with Gorgonzola cheese. The guy was so grateful that he always left me a great tip. Sigh. Sometimes I miss those days.
“Here’s your drink, sir,” the bartender says, setting my martini down on a coaster. The olives have pimentos in them.
“Oh no!” the bartender cries out.
“What’s the matter?” I ask.
“I gave you four olives!”
I count the olives impaled on my drink stirrer. Sure enough, there are four of them.
“So what?” I ask.
“An even number of olives is bad luck.”
“I worked in restaurants for nine years,” I reply. “I never heard that one.”
“That’s what the bartenders I trained with told me.”
“That’s just crazy superstition.”
“Would you like a fifth olive, sir?” the bartender asks.
“So you’ll have good luck.”
“If I gave you a even twenty as a tip,” I reply. “Would that be bad luck?”
“Then I think I’ll survive.”
The bartender shrugs and gives me a “It’s your life look.” As she walks away, I take a long pull on my drink. As I feel the effects of the vodka course through my system I think about superstitions and the anxieties that drive them. “Superstition is to religion what astrology is to astronomy,” Voltaire once wrote. “The mad daughter to a wise mother.” I wonder what the great Enlightenment philosopher’s opinion on olives and bad luck would have been.
Then again, he’d have probably jumped the cute bartender.