It’s amazing what you can learn when you listen

“I’ll have a margarita,” said the woman after sitting down and taking great care to cross her legs. Not for modesty’s sake, but for the opposite. She reminded me of Faye Dunaway in the movie “Barfly,” except for two things — she wasn’t Faye Dunaway and she wasn’t acting.

“On the rocks? With salt?”

“No,” she said slowly and deliberately. “On ice, with some salt.”

So often in the restaurant business, customers don’t actually answer a server’s question. I don’t know why this happens, but I suspect it is because they believe they are the only ones entitled to ask questions. This, of course, can lead to problems. I have asked people if they have been helped yet, only to have them reply “yes” when they really meant “no.” Or they’ll answer questions incorrectly, also for no apparent reason. It is just one of the reasons people in the service industry usually ask questions twice, just to be sure.

“Is this where the single people come?” she asked, after asking me to remove the ice from her drink. And then the salt.


“I am not looking for a man,” she said, unprompted. I looked at the skirt — too short for a woman half her age — the plunging neckline and the way she sat sideways, so that all was on display for anyone who walked by, and just nodded. “Methinks she doth protest too much,” the Bard once said. But pointing out the obvious is not my mandate or my charge. Making drinks, however, is.

“I’ll have bourbon and coke,” a man sitting with a woman down the bar said.

“What’s their story,” Ms. Fey Dunaway asked as soon as I returned.

“I think they’re just dating.”

“I’ll have half a glass of chardonnay,” she said, suddenly disinterested.

Two more half glasses and she asked me about another couple on the other side of the bar

“She’s too young for him,” she said.

I think I shrugged.

Another couple of half glasses and she was flashing another couple a yoga pose on her barstool. From the looks on their faces and the contort of her limbs, I think they got more of a look than they had initially expected.

“I’m not looking for a man,” she said again.

Somewhere Faye Dunaway smiled. Ms. Fey Dunaway, however, never smiled. Life is so often what you make of it. I have often noticed that people around here have a lot of money, but happiness seems to be in short supply.

“What’s their story?” asked Ms. Fey of another couple experiencing their own brand of unhappiness.

“I think they’re fighting.”

“Cute,” she said, putting a heavy emphasis on the “q” part of cute. “It might be my lucky night.”

“I don’t think you’re his type,” I said unwisely, before thinking my comment through. Although, truth be told, the other woman was at least 20 years younger than Ms. Fey.

Ms. Fey looked at me oddly. I fully expected a managerial summons, but before that could happen, the couple in question experienced one of those relationship epiphanies, one that lead to the rapid departure of Ms. Fey’s prey.

I looked at Ms. Fey and shrugged my shoulders, as if to say, “Now, we’ll never know.”

She was nonplussed. In fact she applied some fresh lipstick, fluffed her hair and finished her half glass of wine in one gulp. I guessed she was going to try and catch him in the parking lot. She headed toward the door with a full head of steam.

She never made it to that door. Instead she plopped down next the recently deserted young woman.

“Can I buy you a drink?” she said, not motherly or comfortingly but somewhat predatorily.

It dawned on me that I was the one who hadn’t been listening. She really wasn’t looking for a man at all.

Leaving me with just these thoughts:

• “Listen, I drink. And when I drink, I move in the wrong direction,” said Wanda, Faye Dunaway’s character in “Barfly.”

• Someone recently told me that I wasn’t listening to her. At least I think that’s what she said; “Blah, blah, blah, listening” is all I remember.