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

Gift Horse

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Gift Horse

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Jenny's getting out of a taxi in front of my building as I walk up, and she smiles when she sees me. "Hey, baby," she says, "I hope you don't mind, we got done with that EBT earlier than expected." She's carrying her briefcase, her purse, and a bottle of wine. The plan was for me to cook dinner for us both tonight, but I wasn't expecting her for about another hour and a half.

"Of course not!" We give each other a hug before we go in. It occurs to me that I have no idea what an EBT is, but I don't ask.

"Mmmm, you smell like the beach," she says as we break the hug and go inside. "Where were you?"

"Bryant Park, soaking up the sun and the wi-fi. That's just sunscreen you smell."

"I love it."

Howard the doorman hands me the mail, then tells me he has a package for me, so we wait for a moment.

"I was going to take a shower and change before I cooked dinner."

She grabs my ass, and leans into my neck for another whiff. "Don't." I don't have time to respond before Howard returns and hands me a box from Amazon. I thank him, and we head for the elevators.

"What did you order?" Jenny asks.

"Nothing," I reply, and point to the address label where, instead of my full name, it reads Debra the Barmaid. "One of my blog readers must have sent me something from my wish list." I open it up, and sure enough, a reader named Christopher has sent me the DVD box of the "Band of Brothers" miniseries. (Thanks so much!!)

We're halfway into our first glasses of riesling, I've started to get dinner together, and Jenny has told me a couple of funny stories about the confusion over Passover at her law firm, before she comes back to it. "You don't think that's weird, people you don't know sending you gifts?"

I shrug as I chop an onion and pray for my contact lenses to prevent me from tearing up. "I don't know, I guess I think it's really sweet. I was surprised the first couple of times anybody sent me anything at all, but nobody's forcing them. In fact I've never even asked, I just put the link to my wish list on the blog for shits and giggles."

"So why do you think they do it?"

"I don't know, to be nice? In appreciation for the blog, or something. Like I said, I think it's sweet."

"I wonder. You don't think they're trying to get in your pants, or get you to reveal something about yourself? Maybe someone thinks they can find you by tracking a package?" She pours us each some more wine.

"Well, if that's why they're doing it, they're wasting their money. You can't track a package you send to someone else using their wish list, that would totally defeat the purpose of letting you hide your address." And since when are you so cynical and suspicious? I want to ask her but don't.

"And the, uh... pants thing?" She edges closer, puts her wine glass down on the counter, and places a hand on my hip as I sautee.

"Well, you know," I grin at her, "the packing slip does include the address of the sender. So even if he can't find me, I could go find Christopher at his home address," - I walk back into the living room, where the box still sits open on the Comfy Couch - "which is," - and I read the address out loud to her as she watches me with eyebrows raised. "Yeah, so, to thank him for spending a little money on sending me a television show, which I'm pretty sure he sent me in the first place to thank me for writing something I don't get paid for but which he got some enjoyment out of, I could fly to his hometown, show up at his doorstep, and fuck his brains out." I casually stroll back into the kitchen and resume sauteeing.

"Am I being a jealous bitch?" Jenny asks me.

"They just read about me, honey. You get me."

"I know, at least I think I know, but there are thousands of them, and only one of me. And I can only give you so many gifts."

"Do you want me to take the wish list down?"

"No, no, you're right, it's sweet. I would never ask you to turn away a nice gesture from a fan."

"Will you watch 'Band of Brothers' with me?" I add a bunch of shelled shrimp and spices to the sauteed onions, and the sizzling gets louder.

"Of course. Will you come live with me?"

"I - what?"

"Your lease is up for renewal in July, you told me so yourself. Jill and Cassie can find someone else to take your room, can't they? I have so much space, and Puppy loves having you around, and we could be together every single night, no spare shit in a drawer, no cabs or subways home first thing in the morning only to go back to sleep."

"I don't know, Jenny, God, I only met you a few months ago. We've never talked about it, I've never thought about it, I love it here with my friends - I mean I love you, you know that, right?" She nods. "But it's awfully soon!"

"Yeah, I know. I'm such a cliché, right? The lesbian and the moving van..." I laugh. "I just don't want to have to wait until next July."

I take a deep breath. "I didn't know you think about this stuff."

She puts a hand on my cheek. "Every single first thing in the morning."

I take her in my arms and kiss her until the shrimp starts burning.

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