Last week was my tenth high school reunion, which I’ll get to later, but what’s been staying with me, what kept me up late just staring at the ceiling and fuming, is this encounter I had with a bartender after the party.
Cuz the event was held at Monty’s Raw Bar, a big outdoor seafood restaurant on the water in Coconut Grove, and when the show was over at 10 pm, thereabouts, I stepped out with some friends to one of the restaurant’s three bars.
This particular bar is square-shaped and crowded and the bartender, a slender guy with a jawline beard, is clearly out of his element. Hopelessly overwhelmed. He’s wearing an earpiece and darting around, trying to fill people’s orders, and when he gets to me he asks what I want. I say, “Miller in a bottle.” He nods and I hand him my card and ask him to just close me out.
He takes the card, steps away, comes back with two Millers. Opens them quickly. Slides the bottles my way and then hands me the check and I see that he’s charged me for both.
I say, “Wait, why’d you charge me for two?”
He says, “You asked for two Millers.”
“No,” I say, “I asked for one.”
He gives me a dead look. “You ordered two.”
I ask the friends around me: “Did I order two beers or one?”
They nod, not really saying anything.
Bartender steps forward like to intimidate me. Puts his fists on the bar. “Do you want two beers or no beers?”
I said, “I want one beer.”
Aggressive now, he says, “Two beers or no beers, man, you tell me what it is.”
I said, “Surely there’s some Goldilocks middle option where I get the one beer that I asked for, and you charge me for just that one beer.”
He says, “OK, no beers.” He takes the two bottles and steps away.
I reach out with my card and say, “Fine, just gimme a refund.”
He shakes his head. “I didn’t even charge you. I’ll cancel the transaction.”
I shake my head. “You’re not gonna cancel it. Here, take the card.”
Says, “Just watch. Check your statement.”
Our Uber’s here and there’s no time for me to stand around and pursuing the issue so I walk with my friend to the curb and we get in the van, we’re riding to an afterparty, and all through the drive I’m dead silent, staring at the road, thinking, There’s no way that motherfucker cancelled the transaction.
We get to the afterparty at a friend’s house in the Gables and somebody hands me a beer and a woman approaches who’d been flirting with me earlier in the night, drunkenly rubbing my back and arms, and she comes and sits next to me in the grass, I’m playing with somebody’s pitbull, and she strikes up conversation again. “What’s your blog about?”
I scoff. “Well I can tell you what it’s gonna be about tomorrow…”
I drink the beer I was handed and, at some point later in the evening, I’m handed another beer, and I say to the person handing me the beer, “Dude, I just got conned into paying for two fucking beers by some asshole bartender…”
He listens patiently, looking around the party, nodding at people while I rant.
I call an Uber after an hour and hop into the backseat. The car’s very clean and quiet and the roads are empty. The driver asks me how my night’s been and I say, “Well it was going fine…”
He drops me off at home and I go upstairs and start heating up some Thanksgiving leftovers, I’m drunk, and an old friend sends me a text. Somebody I slept with last year after that bad breakup in October but haven’t spoken to since. She asks what I’m up to, cuz she just got to that afterparty, and when I tell her that I just left she says, “Boo,” and I respond—inexplicably offended—by asking if she’s just texting me looking for sex, to which she takes obvious offense, and I immediately realize it was a stupidly crass thing to say and so I send an apology, to which she understandably doesn’t respond, and then I’m sitting on the couch feeling horribly guilty about that dumbass remark, and pissed about this fucking bartender at Monty’s, and when finally I get to bed, and fall asleep for a bit, I have a dream about some vague heavy thing falling on and crushing me and end up kicking awake under the sheets, gasping.
It’s a little before dawn.
I roll over and grab my phone to see if there’s a response from my friend.
I check my bank statement and see the last transaction.
$11 at Monty’s.