A gloriously unseasonable week, weather in the low-mid 70s (yes, I still think in Fahrenheit), which led me to telephone Michael and say we have to go hang out somewhere outside: because if we wait too long (according to the forecast, Sunday) it will go back to the usual northeastern weather. And then we'll all be sorry.
I'm sure that all the new students are completely bewildered by this weather, wondering whether the people who told them about Newcastle were simply lying... oh well, they can just wait a week.
Michael and I walked down to the river and went to the big tapas restaurant with outside tables, and relaxed and ordered (Michael) beer and (me, just to see if I could embarrass him) white-wine-sangria. (Which of course means it isn't really sangria at all, it's more like... well, what's the Spanish word for plasma?)
Our Spanish waiter was Spanish-sexy, in a frowzily careless way, but the local lad working as maitre d' had definitely caught my eye. I managed to spin increasingly elaborate sentences, planning our future together – i.e. when I lose some weight and go to the gym and... and get plastic surgery and... well, you get the idea. On that day, he will want to come live with me. Michael merely pointed out that it would be an advantage to know that he was busy evenings....
In any case, it all reminded me of the Great Rule of Being a Waiter/Bartender/Other Working Person, which I learned in Berlin and have never thereafter forgotten. You see, during many, many years of scraping along in dead-end jobs (for me, from approximately 1977 to 1997), I climbed from receptionist, secretary, temp secretary, administrative assistant, to office manager, librarian, database designer; I almost always worked in offices, not in places that served drinks or food (unlike my sister Lauren, whose dramatically miserable time as a waitress one summer during college was permanently stamped on her, and in fact the entire family's, memory).
But when I went to Germany on a Fulbright in 1994, and stayed for about twenty months, office jobs were just too complicated – so I was the guy who washed the plates in the chic gay coffee shop in Frankfurt (and realized that I was starting to understand German when I overheard the day manager saying, 'I told that idiot to stack all the bottles in the corner, and just look at what he did with them!' (hmm...) the elation of getting the German slightly dampened by realizing what was being said, and about whom).
Later in Berlin I was the doorman at the late-night leather bar, the New Action, the bar that all the other ones drained into at three a.m. I always have to explain to friends, who can't believe that somebody who is just 5'10" (okay, 5'9-1/2" and don't be so picky) and not built like any kind of brick shithouse at all could manage to be a doorman, that what made it easy is that Germans are very, very obedient – at which point I mime looking up at a dangerous bruiser of a guy, wagging my finger at him, and saying, You have to go home now, because you've had enough. And, since it's Germany, he goes... it's a bit of like successfully taming rhinoceri.
In any case, the New Action – where, at 7:30 am when the bar closed, I'd shout, 'Schwänze ab!' into the dark part of the bar (an interesting plural to have learned – I won't tell the other linguistic story tied to this memory, although it's a good one); and where the blond bartender at the middle bar, who would spend the night doing shots of batida de coco with me, which is about as un-leather-bar a drink as you can imagine – taught me the Rule of Being a Waiter/Bartender/etc., which I shall now impart to you, if you are quiet and pay attention like good children.
Basically, everybody who is working, i.e. focused on something, thinking of something, moving or making something, trying to get anything done, is innately hotter than everyone who is lounging around waiting for things to happen.
There is a certain electricity, a certain power, in a guy – and, probably, in a girl; but others will have to fill in that blank – who is trying to take an order, straighten the tables, get the drinks right, keep the line moving at the door, etc., etc. Even the guy at the clothing-check (uh, don't ask), who is of course low man on the bar's totem pole, has more magic, more chutzpah, more sheer directed energy than all the dressed up patrons standing around holding their drinks and trying to figure out what to do with their evenings. The ones who are working have eyes that are focused, not aimless; their movements are directed; and they are frankly a bit too busy to notice whatever you are doing, until you interrupt them with a specific request. And therefore they have more reality, more concrete, even erotic energy, than everyone around them.
Ever since, hanging around in a bar seems a bit boring to me – a bit pointless, really. I feel as though I'd prefer to be doing something, directing something, stacking something – and that would make all the difference; it might even make me more attractive to the hunky waiter....
Excuse me, sir, would you like to order anything else?