Service Industry

First Date? I Totally Couldn’t Tell

Yes, I could.

This topic tickles my funny bone because I have only ever been on a first date with one person, and that person is still my partner (going on 4 years, shout out to my lost “wild and free” twenties!). Despite this, I feel like I know a few things about first dates, due to my charmed* and magical* and inspiring* time in the service industry, watching you all go on them over and over and over again. It’s cute, I promise.

The bar I work at is a very popular first-date and blind-date spot on weeknights. These seem to be prime date-nights for first-timers. We can tell right away that it’s a first date because of a few simple factors:

1) You shake hands or hug before sitting down and say “hi!” in the cheeriest voice you’ve used all week.

2) You have “already eaten.” If the date goes well I know you’ll probably end up getting snacks later.

3) You look SO UNCOMFORTABLE.

Plus, blind date bonus, 4) you may wander around the bar looking for someone before standing awkwardly in the corner texting, and when you find them, you have to say their name in a nervous high pitched voice to be sure that this is the person you’re actually meeting, and not some other guy who is also on a blind date.**

A first date on a Tuesday at my bar is designed to tell 3 things to the lucky date-ee:

1) Look how classy I am, we’re at a cocktail bar. Did you notice these seats are leather?

2) I am a generous person–can’t you tell? I brought you to a place where drinks cost more than your whole outfit!

and either:

3) I respect you, so I took you out for our first date on a weeknight so you can tell that I’m not trying to just get laid, because we both have work in the morning.

or

3) You’re not getting laid tonight, buddy, because I have work in the morning.

These unspoken signals seem to work pretty well, most of the time. Ladies get buttered up by the nice atmosphere, and guys feel manly when they can order an Old Fashioned and suggest something for their date, too. Of course, there are a few things that first-daters do that can easily spin the first day of the rest of your life into the last day of this budding relationship. Here are a few things I’ve noticed while watching y’all do the mating dance:

1) Dudes: Do not be overly friendly to your waitress.  Pleasant, sure. Polite, yes. But don’t make unnecessary small talk with me. When you’re polite but distant to your waitress your date thinks, “wow, he’s such a gentleman!” When you’re actually friendly, she thinks, “OMG is he flirting with the waitress? Am I boring him? Is he an asshole? How to interpret this smiling and chatting?!” and she’ll spend the rest of the night monitoring our interactions. I mean, look, hopefully she’s not nuts and she’ll understand that you’re just being nice, but you’re on a first date. You’re both feeling nervous and vulnerable. It’s better to play it safe and distant with the waitress so your date knows that your attention is on her.***

2) RELAX. I see it over and over again. You guys and gals walk in here, all nervous. You sit down and I can see from way over here that you’re having a terrible time: you’re stiff and uptight, and you’re throwing back vodka sodas like they’re actually the dirty water that they taste like. Then, Bam! Five drinks in, you’re so relaxed that you’ve wilted, and it might be embarrassing for you if you realized how drunk you are, but you kids are finally having a real conversation! It only took two hours and no dinner plus 10 ounces of vodka to get you there.

3) This may seem obvious to you, but don’t get wasted. You’ve finally gotten comfortable on this date, you’re having a good time, and now what? Whoops, you realized you had seven drinks in 3 hours and you’re making out right there in the booth at 8:30 on a Wednesday**** and you may or may not be able to call this guy tomorrow. It’s going to depend if you make it home alive. And if you can live down the embarrassment.

That’s all I got. I’m no dating expert, so I’m sticking with the things I can see happen on your date while your drinking in my bar.

Come back soon, now, you hear?

*These are creative terms

**This has actually happened. Once, a guy walked in and approached two different girls waiting at two different parts of the bar, both of whom were waiting for other dates. He sat down (far away from those girls) and his actual date arrived a few minutes later. It was hilarious.

***Plus I’m super hot, so who wouldn’t worry that her boyfriend is in love with me?

****This has also actually happened.

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politics, social justice

The Difference between “Activist” and “Almost Activist”

I’m sure it’s fairly clear from the nature of my blog, but I’m the kind of person who takes note of social and political injustice, thinks about it, talks about it, maybe blogs about it, but rarely does anything concrete in the name of fixing the problem. Every now and then I write an email to a state representative explaining to them that I would really appreciate it if they would veto legislation that restricts my and other women’s right to make health decisions about our bodies (and you can, too!). And sometimes I sign online petitions to the white house in regards to issues I care about, like for instance the fact that there has been no response to the recent petition to pardon Edward Snowden (and here’s where you sign that!). One time I protested a thing. Which was pretty fun, because gay people with signs tend to have a high denominator of fun even while addressing serious, civil-liberty-related issues.

But there is a difference between being a person with opinions about how the world should be, and being a person who is willing to devote his or her life to making the world the way it should be. I’m a writer, so you could say I’m an expert (or, let’s be real here, I’m working toward the goal of someday being an expert) on expressing my opinions. I certainly hope that over time, with my work, or my blog, or my emails, or my voice I can help change peoples’ minds about how this world should work, but I don’t harbor any illusions about the real-time effects of what I say and do. I have opinions, but so does everyone else, and opinions are very, very hard to change. I believe that the dissemination of information towards better informed discussion has power.  But I also believe that, in many ways, this power is nothing compared to the power of individual people like Narayanan Krishnan.

Mr. Krishnan amazes me, because he gave up a career in a 5-star hotel restaurant in order to feed 400 hungry people three meals a day, every day, without holidays, for the last ten years. Every day, Mr. Krishnan feeds hundreds of people who are totally forgotten by their communities, often mentally ill, without resources. He sometimes feeds them by hand, and also gives them haircuts. His charity doesn’t make enough donations to cover every meal, so he subsidizes it with money from a house he owns, makes no salary, and lives in the building where he and his team work. It blows my mind. (Check out their website if you want to donate.)

The dictionary defines “activist” as “an especially active, vigorous advocate of a cause, especially a political cause.”  Mr. Krishnan’s cause is not an explicitly political one, but if anyone is an “especially active, vigorous advocate of a cause,” he is. To be any more active, he’d have to learn how to never sleep. But he’s not the only person out there whose activism amazes me.

When Edward Snowden decided to give up life as he knew it to make the American people aware of the government’s overwhelming information monopoly, he became an activist, whether he ever wanted to be one before. Likewise Julian Assange has risked political backlash from numerous countries to keep the public informed of classified government actions in and attempt “to radically shift regime behavior.”

I know not all of you are going to agree with what these men are doing (although I can’t imagine anyone denigrating Mr. Krishnan’s actions), but I can not help but admire the dedication it requires to give up so much personal happiness in the name of an ideal. And there is the real kicker, to me. Because I have a lot of difficulty imagining doing such a thing myself, and in some ways this makes me ashamed. I find myself hesitant to act when it seems possible that my actions could meet with familial disapproval–I haven’t even considered doing anything that might get me into actual trouble. Do I really stand for anything if I’m not willing to take risks in order to keep standing?

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