A novel by Karen Lockhart
Copyright© 2018 Karen Lockhart
I must say, my heart was in my mouth for the first hours I spent behind the bar.
My break came and I took a seat in the lounge, surrounded by all kinds of waitresses, strippers, and other bartenders.
After the usual name swapping and where did I come from, the next question asked by everyone was did I have THE surgery; where did I have it and how much did it cost?
Surprisingly, only one girl, a waitress, asked how much pain was involved.
Her I told, less than child birth from what I
d heard, and more than having a tooth drilled. After promising to talk later, I returned to the second floor bar to give Joy her break.
During the night we weren't that busy, so Janice, Joy and I chatted. We gabbed about everything under the sun. I quickly realized they were not only smart, but real nice people.
Joy had been to the same vacation spot in Thailand and Janice had a much shorter vacation in Montreal. Janet kidded us about having a doctor named Phuket “treat” us. Saying “If half way through the procedure he got tired, would he say to the nurse “F**k it! You close”.
If we had a dollar every time Joy and I heard that, we could retire. For the rest of the night, Joy and I compared notes about our respective life journy up to this point. Just before closing, about 3:30am, I remembered to ask what the minimum age was to tend bar in Massachusetts. (I should move to Iowa, less typing)
Janice looked at me and laughed, saying, “Honey, you look well over eighteen, don't worry.”
“Eighteen, are you sure? I ask because I have a niece who's seventeen and wants to become a bartender, go to school and everything.”
“I'm sorry, I didn't mean to be snippy,” Jan said, “Except for any local ordinances, eighteen is the minimum age to serve drinks, either as a waitress or as a bartender.”
Joy added, “Tell your niece go to bartender school now, and when she graduates, she'll be old enough to tend bar, if any place would hire an eighteen-year-old.”
Janice looked at me, then asked, “You're not telling us everything, are you Ginny? Is she stacked? That would help in most bars ... wait a minute, is she like you a lot? I mean down below, was she born a boy?”
I didn't know what to think of the boldness of her questions. Then again, we were in a adult club where everyone here started out a boy, at least physically and now were doing their best to look, act, and think like a woman.
After mulling it over a bit, I decided to answer her questions.
“Wendy was a runaway, living on the streets for two years. She ran away because she was afraid her step-father was going to beat her to death.”
This got sympathetic sounds from Joy and Jan, who urged me on.
“My room-mate and I discovered her and brought her to our condo for a meal, a shower, and clean clothes. The kid's about my size, so I offered her some old jeans and a sweatshirt.”
“Wendy surprised me by asking about a bra in her size and pantyhose. When we returned to the living room, My roomie Ellen's eyes almost popped out of her head at the cute, blond, teenager standing behind me.”
Ellen asked if the girl was hiding under the street rags all this time. I said she had more in common with me then her, and presto! A cute seventeen-year-old was born named Wendy.”
By now, Jean was changed and ready to go. Joy and Janice acted as if royalty had appeared, asking if Terri knew me.
“Know her? She got me this job.”
They looked at me with more respect then.
Janice guessed I would be heading downstairs to the main bar soon, and was Mr Logan just warming me up at this bar, or was I a spy?
Jean and I both laughed while I reassured them I was no spy, and this was my first job as a bartender.
I said how I worked pulling beer when I was in college, and also as an apprentice working behind the bar at the Naked City in Peabody.
Both Jean and Joy had heard of the City and were impressed.
Joy said she'd heard that on Saturdays the place was a mad house at the bar.
I said this was true, but the tips were fantastic.
With that Jean hitched up our wagon and headed north, thinking of a hot shower, then bed.
After saying good-night, it was close to 3am, so I decided to watch the early news, and answer all of Ellen and Wendy's questions. Not seeing Wendy on the couch, I peeked into my room and saw a mass of blonde hair on my pillow. Chuckling to my self, I got comfortable on the sofa, waiting for the others to show up.
Sure enough, first Ellen then Wendy showed up in the kitchen.
Before Wendy could ask anything, I said, “Unless you slept in the bathroom, I assume you slept in my bed without asking young lady?”
Of course, Wendy went right into Rudolph mode and lit the room bright red.
“I thought it would be okay Auntie, this way I wouldn't miss you when you came home.”
I decided to let her off the hook, telling her to ask first in the future.
“Well what was it like?” Ellen asked.
I told them tending bar was tending bar, but the waitresses! Some of them were cute, some had enormous breasts, a few looked like they fell out of that Ru Paul's TV show, and I mean TV!
Wendy's eyes got enormous, and asked, “The strippers, did you see any, and if so were they as talented as the ones at Naked City?”
Now it was Ellen's turn to turn red. “Young lady, when did you see strippers at the Naked City bar?”
“When Ginny was busy, I snuck back-stage and watched, Ginny never saw me peek, honest!”
“Well, I have some good news, ladies. I asked the other girls, Joy and Janice, lovely people, about the legal age to serve drinks in Massachusetts. Guess what? It's eighteen! You can waitress or bartend at that age.”
This got Wendy all wound up. “I can go to bartender school then bartend, study at home, and buy my own car.”
“Slow down kiddo, first you need to be eighteen,” Ellen said. “Then we'll talk of school. Right now, shower; we have a riding lesson in two hours.”
“Ginny, did you get some sleep?”
“I fell asleep watching television around three, I'll join you for coffee and breakfast, then have a nap. Jean and I will be leaving around 3:30, so we can talk when you two get back from Newbury. It's Jean's turn to drive today, so I have a little more time. Have fun.”
Instead of going to my bedroom to nap, I made a nest on the sofa and watched old black and white movies until I dozed off.
I woke at 1pm and rushed into the shower. After drying off, I put on my night clubbing makeup.
Digging through my closet I found a cute vertical pink and white stripe cheerleader skirt and a sheer sleeveless pink blouse. Digging deeper I found a pair of nose-bleed six inch titanium spike heels that matched! Tomorrow I'd go shopping for some three inch pumps in different colors.
I just finished a peanut and blueberry jam sandwich when Jean knocked on the door. Being always the gracious hostess, I asked she would like a sandwich, explaining the maid had the weekend off, and I couldn't find the china service, was a paper plate okay?
This broke Jean up, “Are you always like this or do you put this on for all the strippers you invite into your house?”
We finished lunch and headed out the door. Wow, what a difference in the traffic on Saturday heading south to Quincy!
We arrived so early, even the janitors weren't there. Looking around I noticed a little dress shop. Yep, thirty minutes and $200 later I left and put my purchases on the back seat of Jean's car. We went our different ways, me to the lounge bar and Jean to the main room and stage.
After a frenzied two or three hours, I got a fifteen minute break. I decided to see the lounge acts going on behind me. If Vinny made it, this is what Ellen and I thought he would do. With the info from Fran's Place in my mind, I took in the singers.
These girls were great! They were singing, no lip syncing here; they were pounding out Reba McIntyre, Dolly Pardon, and Lady Ga Ga.
I was late getting back, but Joy said she was enthralled the first time she took in the singing acts, and was thirty minutes late herself.
Saturday was a real madhouse, but I noticed the same two or three customers sitting in my area. Getting over my initial shyness, I started to talk with them. One was an older gentleman about sixty, the other was a thirty something dressed as a drag queen. After making it clear I wouldn't give lap dances, even for $300, things eased up.
The drag queen actually was a nice guy who looked a little familiar. After she walked off in the direction of the ladies (both were marked 'Ladies'), the older man introduced himself as Hiram Warren.
Things had let up around 11pm, and we had time to chat. He asked me if the Ru Paul contestant looked a little familiar. I said just a little, but with all that heavy make-up she could be my own mother and I wouldn't know her.
Just like an old British movie, he laid a finger along his nose, and asked if I was a Red Sox fan. With a slow feeling of clarity of mind, I turned to him and asked, “Short stop?”
Hiram nodded, and said, “Quiet now, he's coming back. Make me a Sidecar won't you doll.”
Placing his cocktail in front of him, I moved down the bar and pulled a couple of Sam Adams draft beers and a Budweiser for Tina a cute pre-op waitress.
Two o'clock reared its lovely head, telling us it was time to go home for two wonderful days. Sundays the club was closed for everyone. The four week days rotated among the club's employees. No time off for Friday or Saturdays. As a bartender, I was an employee of the Candy Cane and with her exclusive contract, so was Terri/Jean.
“Well”, Jean asked, “How was your first week?”
I reached into my purse and showed her my tips for the three days. Over 1100 dollars!
“That says a lot Ginny, but really, how was it? And did you get a chance to look around for this Morales guy?”
“I actually liked it. Joy and Janice are great to work with and a couple of patrons are cute guys, especially this older man. I did get a chance to watch the singing acts. Those girls can really sing! I mean as an entertainer, they could work in any place, not just here.”
Jean nodded. “Between my acts, Logan and I were talking about the singers. He was asking my opinion on the Reba clone. Apparently her six months after surgery is up next week,and by the house rules, she has to leave.”
“I said to find a way to keep her, even with a contract like mine, if necessary. She is the real deal, a great singer with range. Mr Logan said he had advertised for a singer, and had an application from a singer who said she sang like that Ariana Grande.”
By now we were in Swampscott, at the condo.
I turned my head and asked, “A Latin singer who does Ariana Grande?”
A light went off between us; Jean took a deep breath, “You don't suppose?”
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