All the best-looking guys in the world could come into this bar and I still wouldn’t want to fuck any of them. Not seriously, anyway. I’ve thought about it sometimes, usually when there’s a small rush after a desolate couple of hours spent staring at the television screens and listening to the same classic rock block on the satellite station the owner won’t let us change. The adrenaline surge that accompanies serving a suddenly two-deep bar by myself, trying to get the drinks made and the tabs written so everyone can settle in and establish their rhythm, a blood pressure spike and the thin slime of sweat just below the hairline on the back of my neck are when I know that I could just fuck someone. Or punch them. Same thing, sometimes, depending on the customers.
The feeling is fleeting, though, gone entirely once the handsomest men in the bar get drunk. I’ve been leered at through enough pairs of droopy eyelids to know what fucking them would have been like. This isn’t to say I don’t flirt. I do it for attention more often than I do it for money, not just because they’re one and the same, but because the people who don’t tip well aren’t the kind anyone wants to flirt with in the first place. The guys who wear cell phone clips and chips on their shoulders, who give me shit for expecting a dollar every time I crack open a beer. They still say “fag” like it’s funny and introduce anyone nearby to their casual racism by starting sentences with “I’m not racist, but…” I keep my distance from these guys. It’s too easy to get roped into their complexes and pissing contests. And like I said, they don’t like to tip.
Good-looking men are rarer, and finding one without a wedding band feels like a prize. I truly don’t plan on fucking any of them, but it’s been at least ten years since I’ve been to church and just flirting with a married man still feels wrong. I like the quiet ones. They come in by themselves or with just one friend and order a beer. Better than a PBR if it’s domestic, darker and on draught if it’s an import. No Heineken. A whiskey could get added to the second round, and I’m a goner if it’s neat.
The trick is to get the flirting in before someone gets shithammered. The first drink is too early, too aggressive, and I like to keep busy until they feel like another. I’ve spent enough time in the company of drinkers to know that the time it takes for someone to drink a High Life is directly equivalent to the time it takes me to wipe down the empty spots on the bar, collect some stray coasters, wash a quarter rack of glasses, and idly chat up a regular about his wife, who I met once when he brought her in after a wedding. She ordered a Manhattan and said I was the best bartender in the world before she threw up in the bathroom and her husband took her home.
I can sense the second drink before he knows he needs it. A bartender thing is how I’d explain it, and literally, it’s in my bones. My clavicles, specifically, tingling starting at my sternum and radiating outwards as if they’ve been rigged with magnets towards empty glass and melting ice cubes. The fact is that men in particular like to be served by women and everyone wants to feel like they deserve it, so it’s best to approach someone apologetically. I’m not predatory unless I’ve been drinking, too. A point and a half smile.