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The Barmaid Blog™: Life for a 30-something Manhattan Barmaid

One Grope Over the Line

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One Grope Over the Line

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It's Saturday evening in Manhattan, and I'm a couple of hours into an 8-to-close shift at the Bar; Jocelyn will be with me until close, and Sophie's off at 1. It's a good crowd, the mood is light, people are drinking less beer and more hard liquor, and so the tips have been pretty good. I'm trying to save up to buy a dress I saw last week, even though I haven't yet worked up the courage to walk inside the store to find out how much it costs. I'm cooking at home more instead of getting take-out, I'm trying to take on an extra shift here and there, and there may even be some news to report in the semi-near future about me writing a regular column somewhere...!

I'm in a pretty good mood, too, and enjoying myself. Things at the Bar have been pretty good recently, and it's nice when you can let your guard down a bit and just enjoy the company of your colleagues and your customers for what it is. I feel good, too - between the general feeling of having recovered from something both physically and emotionally draining, and the fact that I'm not only blogging regularly again but also working on my novel on a semi-regular basis, it's hard not to feel good. I was worried that I might have gained a little weight the past couple of weeks, but I fit into my jeans with no problem this afternoon, and I'm wearing one of my favorite shirts, a deep pink Lacoste polo with the little alligator on it. I don't mind saying I look pretty good.

Sometime after ten, a guy I'm pretty sure I've never seen before comes up to the bar and orders a gin and tonic. He's on the short side - a couple of inches taller than me - and not very good looking, but he's smiling and friendly. As luck would have it, a stool opens up just as I'm serving him, so he grabs it and makes himself at home. He tips $2 on a $6 drink, so I make a mental note to keep an eye on his glass.

When I check on him about twenty minutes later, he's about to need a refill, so I approach to ask if he wants one, and as I get closer I hear the woman sitting next to him say, "...fucking hint?" She gets up, and she and her friend walk away, toward the other end of the bar. He shakes his head and downs the last gulp of his drink.

"Another one?" I ask him with a smile.

"Yeah, definitely. What's your name?"

"I'm Debra. And you are?"

"Leonard." We shake hands, and while I mix him another G&T, I feel him looking me up and down. I tell him to enjoy, then I collect his cash and move along. At one point not long after, I notice he's left his coat on his stool and his still half-full glass on the bar, so I keep an eye out. When I see him again, he's holding his head and shaking it a little.

"Are you okay, Leonard?"

"Yeah, yeah, yeah, I'm good, I'm great, don't worry about it. Debra, right?" I nod. "Debra, keep 'em coming, I'm in for the long haul." He rubs his nose and smiles so widely I think his face might crack, then he turns to the guy next to him and laughs.

It's a busy night, so I'm not on top of Leonard's situation all the time. But he's keeping up a pretty good pace on his G&Ts, and he seems to be alienating the people around him. Nobody's asked me for help, or gone to Bill or Vince, so it probably isn't anything serious, but judging from the looks on people's faces as they walk away from him, he must be doing or saying something offensive.

Then at just after one, when Sophie's getting ready to head out, Leonard calls me over. "Debra," he says, gesturing toward Sophie, "do you think she'd stay and have a drink with me? I really want her to come home with me and fuck me."


"It's cool, I'm a good guy, I'd treat her right. I always make sure the girl comes a few times before I get mine!" He's slurring his words, and I'm not real happy with the things he's saying - luckily, Sophie's already in the back room and out of earshot. "So how about that refill?"

"Leonard, honey, I think you've had enough, and it's probably time for you to get going. Can I have someone get you a cab?"

He gestures for me to lean closer, so I do. "I have to get something off my chest. I've never been with a black woman. She's really hot! I just want to know what it's like. Can't you please ask her for me?" This guy's got some serious stones.

"She's got a boyfriend, Leonard, and he's not someone you want to mess with."

"Okay, just give me another drink, then."

"I really think you've had enough tonight."

"Can I get something else off my chest?"

"What's that?"

"There's something I want to get off your chest." And just as if he's shaking my hand or tapping me on the shoulder, he reaches out and grabs my breast, and says, "I want to take that fuckin' crocodile home with me." It's a couple of seconds before I'm sure I believe what's happening, but as soon as I do, I take his hand off my breast, twist it, and slam it down on the bar.

"Vince!" I call out loudly, over Leonard's yelling, and the barback is there within moments, with his hands on Leonard's shoulders. I grit my teeth, trying to resist the impulse to take advantage of his position by socking him in the nose as hard as I can. "Vince, this gentleman needs an escort out of the building and a cab to take him home."

"What?!" Leonard protests. "I just wanted another fucking drink! Where's the goddamn manager?" Shit. We have a good deal of autonomy at the Bar to enforce rules and keep ourselves safe, but if the customer asks for the manager, we give him what he wants. I reluctantly release his wrist, and go to get Todd from the back room while Vince maintains his position keeping Leonard under control.

In the few moments it takes us to make it back to the bar area, I manage to get out the words, "This guy groped me," but Todd stops in his tracks.

"That guy? The one Vince is holding to his stool?"

"Yes!" He looks at me quietly for a moment, then we walk down to the scene of the crime.

Leonard brightens up immediately. "Todd, my man, I thought you might be here tonight! What the hell kind of place are you running here?" I notice he's talking somewhat more coherently than he was just a few minutes ago.

"Todd, you know this guy?"

Leonard doesn't wait for Todd to answer. "I'm just having a few drinks, I said something a little off-color, and this girl nearly breaks my hand!"

I feel my face flushing. "He asked me to get Sophie to f-- to sleep with him, then he grabbed my breast!"

"What?! I didn't lay a hand on her! Todd, man, you know me - I'm always working on new material for my stand-up act or my screenplays, she must have misunderstood me. I just wanted another drink."

Todd rubs his forehead for a moment. "Vince, did you see what happened?" Vince looks at me, then shakes his head. Todd calls Jocelyn over, and she has the same answer. Sophie's already gone. The crowd at the bar is three deep, and nobody's been paying the slightest attention. Nobody saw it.

"Leonard, I'm really sorry. What were you drinking?"

"Gin and tonic."

I can't believe what I'm hearing. "What?!"

"Debra, please get my friend another gin and tonic, on the house."

This can't be happening. "No."

"Excuse me?"

"Todd, he felt me up! I'm not serving him a damn thing!"

"Suit yourself. Jocelyn, please get my friend a gin and tonic." She looks at me, helpless. "Jocelyn!" Todd snaps. She looks down, then goes to the rack of highballs. Then Todd turns to me. "Debra, go take a break."

I step up to him, seething with frustration, the tears starting to form, and I look up at his eyes. "Do you want me to dust my goddamn chest for fingerprints?!"

"Take. A. Break." He turns around and steps around to the back of the bar to help Jocelyn out.

When I get to the back room, I grab my jacket and my bag, and I turn right around. The only thought I can form in my head is, "What the hell just happened?" I'm almost to the front door of the Bar when Todd calls out to me and asks where I'm going. What I yell back to him is something I've never said to anybody lightly, much less someone who has the power to fire me.

"Fuck off!" And I'm out the door before the crying really starts.

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