It’s the first time back to the well-known Dale steak and martini singles den. You know the place–men in their fifties convinced it’s their charm attracting young women? That place.
Business Woman says nothing. Instead, she gives the up and down used by girls without wit in high school. Reluctantly, she inches her bag over. Her corner of the bar features two glasses: a champagne flute and one of the red variety. She’s finishing a steak. She appears quite comfortable; no problem eating alone. Ballsy chick, think I.
“Bitch,” say I to Sisterella.
Her meal boxed and bagged, she places it on the under bar hook that is clearly mine. I give the bag a little push with my knee. Don’t want to chat with me? You have no access to my under bar space. Rules of the game, doll.
She chats with a younger man and I wonder at her secret. One by one, men come to chat. She attracts them like flies. I try to eavesdrop, a beloved pastime, but the music is too loud. She goes outside with each man, carefully placing a napkin atop each glass as she exits. She better not think I’m gonna save her place every time she goes out for a smoke. Pfft.
Three pinot pours, many new friends and hand gesticulating later, Middle Chicken and Lawyer Boy come to fetch this girl home. Next morning features a hangover that keeps me from a hair appointment. When I next see Miss V she asks after my health.
“I wasn’t sick,” say I. “I was hungover.”
“Oh my God. You finally got back out. What did you do? Tell me everything.” This is the stuff of weekly blow outs. I recount our adventures and the bitchy Business Woman.
“She was working,” says Miss V.
“I know. She looked like a business woman,” say I.
“No,” says Miss V. “She was working. As in a working girl. You know that place. Tell me-she was in the corner of the bar? Lots of guys talked to her? She went outside with them? The bartender never moved her stuff?”
“Right, right, right,” say I.
“You stepped in her turf. She was working and you plop down and want to make small talk.”
“Nuh uh,” say I, brain wheels spinning. “Do you think? Really?”
We speculate how many trips Business Woman took outside, each with a different guy. We put an arbitrary price point for a certain activity that could be accomplished quickly and discretely, and make a nightly tally minus the cost of dinner, two drinks and a large tip to the bartender for protecting her seat.
“Are we in the wrong business?” We contemplate for a moment and laugh aloud.
Yeah, probably not. Neither one of us likes to eat alone in public.