"Every single person I’ve slept with for the last four years is a narcissist with a drinking problem."
Photo by Flickr user Jorge Gonzalez.
Working in bars and restaurants, you're around booze every second you're at work. There's literally alcohol all the time. When I first started working behind the bar, I was drinking with my coworkers until 6 in the morning every night of the week.
You get off work at midnight, you're a little bit wired, you never want to go to sleep immediately even if you have important stuff to do in the morning, so you're like, "Oh, I'll just go have fun and get a drink."
And it's never just one. Nobody's ever just had one drink in the history of their lives, especially, especially in this industry. We like to drink together because a lot of customers act like it's their first day on earth and don't understand that a bartender is a person who doesn't just work for you, or there are ways of asking for things that aren't so rude, so there is a certain understanding between us. So you walk into a bar, and say, "Oh, I just got off work down the street." There bartender is usually like, "Oh, sit down. Have a shot."
The result of this is that people in the service industry almost exclusively date other people in the service industry—or at least people they met in a bar or restaurant. I had a conversation with my therapist recently, and I was like, "Every single person I've fucked for the last four years is a narcissist with a drinking problem," and she was like, "Well, why do you think that is?" I was like, "Because I only fuck bartenders."
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They have different sets of issues and different levels of depression and different acknowledgement of their depression, but they're all fucked up.
I never wanna speak for anybody else—I know people that are really happily dating other bartenders—but it's been a pattern i've definitely noticed. I just don't think that drinking as much as everybody I know does is a way to have a good relationship with your mental health and your body for the long term. I think everybody has the idea of "This is the way my life is now, but it'll be different soon." But I don't really see anybody making steps toward changing.
In the neighborhood where I used to work, I fucked the sous chef I worked with, and then I fucked someone who worked in our sister restaurant down the street, and I dated the bartender at a restaurant in the neighborhood. Sometimes none of these people know you fucked them all, and then they all talk to each other and you want to die. That's why I recently had to flee the neighborhood.
In this industry, there are a lot of weird boundaries for professional relationships and for personal relationships.
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Hospitality is a place where you meet a lot of lonely people all the time, and it's really hard to set boundaries in a way that doesn't make people feel bad. Sometimes you come in here alone because you had nobody else to eat dinner with, and you need somebody to talk to. And I don't know how to tell you to back off in a way that both isn't devastating to you and leaves me with the money I need to pay my health insurance.
Sometimes when I hit it off really hard with customers it's because i know I'm going to make money at the end of the transaction. Every once in awhile I'm actually into customers. There was a professor who would come in every Wednesday for a long time—like a year. He'd sit and have a sandwich and I'd give him beers and we'd hang out. One day, he came in, he had a sandwich, and he asked me out. Then we went down the street, we had a couple drinks, and we had sex.
The next week he sent me all these really long texts message about being in and out of a six-year relationship. And I was like, "I'm not asking you for matching towels. I just want you to buy me dinner," but he couldn't pull his head out of his ass. Before things imploded, I told a friend that I thought I finally met a guy who would be good for me. We talked about literature and film and had fun together. But my friend said, "That guy's just fucking the waitress. You are a fantasy and he can project whatever he wants onto you." I thought he knew I'm the smartest, most beautiful, most charming waitress in the world, but it turned out he was just fucking the waitress—because he needed something to do on a Wednesday,
That's why you have to be conscious when people are like, "Oh we're going to this bar when we're done here. You should come dancing with us." That sounds really fun, but I don't get to clock out if I do that. I have to keep playing the waitress.
Sometimes I go for a drink with my actual friends when i get off work and I can't talk for an hour, because I need to transition from being a method actor in the role of you favorite waitress. I have to be able to take a minute to turn it off and be authentic with my friends.
That's another part about only dating bartenders—there is a certain amount of "Have either of us turned it off yet or are we just always like this?" There's an understanding of what we do and why were good at it, but also "You haven't listened to a single word of what I've said for the last three months, because you're so involved with your bartender persona." It's hard to actually get to know another person when you're just both performing all the time.
I'm getting to a place where I'm getting tired of it and trying to figure out where there is room to move and grow in this industry and not drink all the time, and maybe work hours where I can see people in my life who aren't in this industry and, you know, go to the beach on weekends.