Jon, the bartender, had told me about being up for a management position at Brio Tuscan Grille. He was hoping for the Assistant Manager’s position as it would mean more money, his rent was due, his wife just had a baby, he had a two year old at home, and his car was on it’s last leg.
Brio was always the hopping joint in the Village by 8:00 PM, but it was early yet. A long day’s work behind me, I kicked off my heels, and hung my suit coat across the back of my bar stool. Within minutes, I was sitting there quietly at the bar dining on a large platter of beef carpaccio with arugla, capers and Dijon, warm bread in herb infused oils, flat breads, and sipping a glass of Shiraz.
The place was empty except for two distinguished businessmen in suits a ways down the bar from me. Known to eavesdrop for learning purposes, I listened as they spoke about corporate plans and entrepreneurial joint ventures. They also had a few words to say about bitter wives.
In came Roxie, a member of the Winter Park Wives Club. Not a formal Wives Club like the Women’s League of this or that, but an informal name I had given to the large group of high maintenance women who gathered on Thursday nights to gossip about whose secretary was doing whose husband and what they hoped to gain from such relationships. Sometimes, being invited to their tables, I was privy to their secrets and knew Roxie to be one of the more vicious women who had owned a small cafe in the Village that had gone bust, and had a penchant for jewelry. She was separated from her husband who had been let go from a legal firm and had a new, hot-bodied, young, boyfriend, Jarred, an architect.
“Jon, Jon, Look here!” she called from across the room holding her left arm out to dangle her flashy new piece.
White tassels shimmying on her short white dress with with every step, she bounced across the room to the bar. With her dark hair cut short and curled slightly around her face, and deep red lipstick, she resembled a flapper from the 1920s. Her high heels made her walk awkward with her lean long legs, and her bulging flesh was oozing out from around every orifice of her skin tight dress. She draped her bosom across the bar, still with arm extended.
“Jarred, bought it for me. It’s a diamond watch.”
“That’s pretty,” said Jon.
“I don’t like it,” I piped in.
“What’s not to like about it?” she asked.
“It has no numbers on the dial.”
“Who needs numbers?”
“I’m a nurse, I need numbers.”
“Well, I’m not and I don’t.”
“It has no second hand”
“What would I need that for?”
“To take a pulse.”
“I don’t plan on taking any pulses.”
“You just might need to.”
“I don’t need to. Isn’t it pretty? Cost him thousands of dollars.”
“It’s pretty, but it’s not functional.”
“No, it has no numbers. It has no second hand. It has no indiglo.” I held out my Timex and showed her my large faced $15.00 watch, with it’s blue indiglo backlight. “I can see this baby in the dark.”
“Well, I don’t need to see my watch in the dark. I want one that sparkles in the light.”
“Pretty, but still not functional. Might as well have been a bracelet.”
“Humph! I’m not a working woman. I’m a kept woman, and I don’t need functional.”
“Well, I’m a working woman. When I work past noon, I can even even see military time at a glance.” I showed her my watch again.
“Well, you need to get off your feet more and onto your back.” Abruptly she turned to leave. “See you later, Jon,” she call out behind her.
Jon continued washing his glasses, and I noticed the two businessmen had been watching this whole show.
Businessman one stands, reaches into his pocket and pulls out his wallet, counts out five hundred dollars, and slides it across the bar in my direction. “Buy yourself a pretty watch,” he says with a smile.
Oh, no, I can’t take your money. I was just giving her a hard time. Don’t like her type.”
“Well I don’t either, and you deserve a pretty watch for holding your own.”
Not to be outdone, Businessman two reaches in his breast coat pocket and pulls out his wallet, counts out five hundred dollars, and slides it against the first pile of bills. “WE don’t like her type.”
They insisted. Before I could thank them, they were gone, with the pile of cash laying there on the bar.
I looked at Jon and he at me.
“I’ll tell you what Jon. Break this for me.” I handed him $100.00 bill.
“I need $20.00 for gas.” I took out $20.00, paid $40.00 for my dinner, placed $940.00 in the tip jar, and left.
I ate free at Brio for the entire year I worked in admissions for hospice. Every Thursday, after 12 hours on the street, going from crisis to emotional crisis, I would go by my Winter Park office, drop off my paperwork and head over to hang out with bartenders, Texas and Paul, and Jon, the new Assistant Manager at Brio Tuscan Grille. Occasionally I dined with the Winter Park Wives Club just for shits and giggles.