Sunday, February 13, 2011
The Odd Couple
I can't help it. I'm human. In the back of my mind, I always try to figure out the background story of the customers who sit at my bar. Who are they? Why are they here together? How do they know each other? I blame it on my minor in Sociology. I always want to know why people are the people they are and why they do the things they do.
Don't get me wrong. It's not like I am going out of my way to hear what the customers at my bar are saying to one another. I am fortunate enough to work behind a very small, intimate bar and have the opportunity of hearing everything that is discussed. Nine times out of ten, I am not even really listening because I am too busy making drinks and having conversations in my own head. Most of the time, I hear bits and pieces of a story or the tail end of a punch line. But every now and then, I can't help but tune in.
A couple of years ago, I had a couple come into the bar to have dinner. At first, I thought they were just friends. They weren't being the least bit romantic with one another. I could tell that they worked with each other because they were discussing day-to-day activities at the office and talking about various co-workers.
Once I opened a bottle of wine for these two, their conversation got very interesting. From what I could gather, they not only worked together, but the man was the woman's boss and they were having an affair. They were in the middle of discussing the man's wife and his kids. It sounded like they were planning on coming clean with their affair with his wife. The tricky part was not only did the man have kids, but the wife was a friend of the woman sitting at the bar.
Awkward. Not exactly restaurant dinner conversation. This certainly wasn't a conversation appropriate to have at such a small bar either. It's not like I could go anywhere else. I was there working, making drinks for the servers in the restaurant. The couple had come in at the later part of the evening. These two were the only people sitting at the bar. I was within arm's reach of them for their entire conversation. I guess they either didn't care or didn't realize that I was stuck having to listen to their soap opera life.
As if the situation couldn't get anymore uncomfortable or worse, the conversation switched from how the man was going to leave his wife to how he needed to check himself into rehab for his drinking and drug use. By this point of the conversation, our restaurant had already been officially closed for 45 minutes. These two were the only people in the restaurant, besides the closing staff. I was cleaning and closing up the bar around them. Apparently, they were too wrapped up in their conversation to realize that we had closed.
I eventually ran out of things to clean while waiting for these two to finish up. Up until this point, I had been escaping to the kitchen to fill in the closing server on what was going on with the outrageous and unassuming couple sitting at the bar. Now that the closing server was going home, I had no one else to share the crazy experience with.
Finally the couple finished their bottle of wine, took a look around and asked me if they were the only ones left in the restaurant. I smiled and said yes. When they asked me if we were closed, I smiled again and told them that we had been closed for an hour and a half. They looked at each other and their watches. Finally they had stopped talking to each other long enough for me to drop their check.
They didn't tip anything spectacular. At least not enough to make it worth my while to keep me long after closing and for having to hear all about their personal lives. They certainly did earn the title as the "Oddest Couple" to have ever sat at my bar.
***And wouldn't you know it, this same couple came back into my bar a year later. This time, the woman was pregnant and wearing a wedding ring.