My Cousin Vinnie
See, I don't bartend anymore. I love bartending, I really do, but the good money in a strip club is out on the floor. In a regular bar/nightclub, people like to walk around, and usually get their drinks directly from the bar. Most men in a titty bar like to sit at the tables, either in a quasi-hypnotic state staring at the stages, or surrounded by dancers who are willing to get drunk on their dime. If I want to make the big bucks, I need to be where the people are.
Damn, I digress a lot.
The good thing about being stuck behind the bar on Thursday was my ability to observe the entire club. That, and flip bottles. I dabble a little in the bar flair; I like to call it "bored bartending," but I did work at TGI Fridays if that's any excuse.
Elvis was playing "Funky Cold Medina" and I was really getting into it, throwing the bottle behind my shoulders, over my head, etcetera etcetera. I noticed a gentleman walking towards the bar so I put the bottle down. He was short, thin build, wearing a black leather trench coat and had long dark hair pulled back into a ponytail.
"Hey bartender," he said, with a heavy Queens accent that made "bartender" sound like "bahhtendah." "How often are you in New York?"
"Um," I replied, "slim to none, but I'm thinking of going to graduate school up there."
"Well, if you ever do, you gotta job," he said, sitting down in a barstool. "I don't wanna get kicked out of here or nothin', but I own a strip club in New York, you may have heard of it."
He rattled off the name of the club that he owns, and yes, I have heard of it, but for the sake of anonymity, I'll keep it to myself.
I held my hand out across the bar to introduce myself.
"I'm Nicky (insert heavy Italian last name here). You may have heard of my 'family.'"
"Um, no?" I replied.
"Well," he countered, "have you ever heard of the Gambino's? You know, the Mafia?"
"Sure," I said, a little skeptically.
"Well, I work for them, if you know what I mean," he said, winking.
This is where I decided that he was full of shit. I'm no expert on the subject, everything I know about the Mafia is derived from avid viewing of Soprano's, but one thing I'm pretty sure of, if you're actually in the Mafia, you don't go announcing it to random strangers in the bar. I'm almost positive that people in the Mafia try to pretend like the Mafia doesn't exist.
"What the hell," I thought, "I'll play along with this guy."
He went on to tell me about his bar.
"It's a classy joint," he continued, "so you'll be wearing an evening gown."
I gave him a look. "You expect me to bartend in an evening gown?" I don't see how that's possible, honestly, with all the bending and lifting and, well, movement that goes along with bartending.
"It's either that or lingerie. Like I said, it's a classy joint. When you get there, ask for Big Fat Paulie or Louie. They'll call me, because I'm not usually there. I have to handle a lot of things for the Gambino's, if you know what I mean." Again with the wink.
"Yeah right," I thought to myself. I can just see my innocent southern ass walking into a titty bar that's a supposed front for the Mafia and asking for "Big Fat Paulie" at the front door. I'll probably get shot.
It was about that time that Raymond walked in the bar. In case you have forgotten, Raymond stands about six four, and is a very large Italian man. Little Nicky picked him out immediately.
"Hey," he asked, pointing to Raymond, "how do I know that guy?"
This is where I decided to be a bitch and screw with this guy.
"Oh him?" I responded, nonchalantly, "he runs most of the bars in this town."
"Yeah," Nicky replied, "but how do I know him?"
"Well," I said, whispering, "his family is from New York."
This is, in fact, true; however, not in the sense that I was allowing this asshole to think. Raymond spent a few years of his childhood in New York, so I wasn't really lying.
"Oooh," Nicky replied. "What's his name?"
"Raymond," I responded.
"No, his last name."
I leaned in, as if I was giving away trade secrets. I glanced to my left, then to my right, and put my hands on either side of my mouth.
"Ministroni," I responded.
"That's it!" Nicky exclaimed excitedly, slapping his hands on the bar. "That's how I know that guy, I know his family."
I gave him a wink and a nod to let him know he was in on a big trade secret. In all honesty, I could have said any Italian name I pleased and he would have reacted in the same manner.
I went back to the business of bartending, but not before Nicky had called Raymond over and was rattling off a list of Italian names that he was "sure" Raymond knew.
"What about Joey G?" He said, earnestly. "You know, Joey Gambino?"
"Um, no," Raymond replied.
"Big Fat Paulie? Come on, you have to know Big Fat Paulie?"
"Sorry?" Raymond was getting irritated by this point.
"Oh," Nicky replied, "well, I'm sure you know someone. I just have to think about it some more."
Nicky left shortly after, but not before giving me his number and making me promise to call him in the next few weeks so we could "get together and talk about working, you know, maybe have a nice dinner or something."
I told Boyfriend about it when I got home that evening.
"You know he just wanted to fuck you," Boyfriend replied, once he could stop laughing.
"Yeah," I responded, "I know. Sometimes I wish they would just be honest and say 'hey, let's have sex.' I could at least respect that."