Queen of Flames
He wrapped his hands around the martini glass. I watched, with one eye on my pad thai and the other on his finger, which idly swirled his toothpick-speared cocktail olives around in his glass.
Call me a professional eavesdropper, but it's pretty hard not to pay attention when you're trying to have a quiet dinner with your spouse at the local Thai restaurant, and the flaming queen sitting at the bar is asking the waiter, "So what are the rules on orgies in Alabama? How many people does it have to be? Fifteen, sixteen?"
Eat your pad thai, girl, I thought. He's drunk, he's getting drunker, and it's just going to get funnier—as long as he doesn't realize that anyone's listening to him…
I'd caught references to 'San Francisco' a couple of times. His accent, a bizarre combination of Valley talk and Barney Frank, matched perfectly with his appearance. Paisley—but not too paisley—shirt, perfectly pressed. Tucked in any more tightly, the shirt would've ripped at the seams if he moved his arms. Shorts, perfectly pressed and creased, belted despite the fact that no belt was needed. Casually expensive loafers, equally cheap socks. Buzz cut.
On the four-matchstick scale of Queen of Flames, this guy got four flaming matchsticks out of four.
He drank. We ate. He talked. I listened. He didn't notice. I made certain he didn't have a reason to.
Bartending tonight were the Goateed Bespectacled Twins. Not exact twins, mind you; one was auburn-haired and the other was a brunette, but they had the same practiced chuckle-along-with-the-drunks laugh that you learn after dealing with one too many people who, if they weren't slightly sloshed, would probably be perfectly normal co-workers or neighbors. Both of them had that clean-cut collegiate look of kids tending bar on nights and weekends to pay their way through school.
After finishing his drink, the stories started getting better. He pushed his empty martini glass toward the auburn-haired Goateed Bespectacled Twin and said in his best drunken sotto voce, "Make me somethin'. I don't care. Make it up."
The bartender arched an eyebrow over the rim of his glasses. "You sure about this?"
"Oh, honey," he said, flapping his wrists, "I trust you with all my heart." He turned his head to his female friend and motioned for her to turn her head around, away from the bar—and directly toward our table. More drunken sotto voce: "As long as it doesn't cost something like"—here he flapped a wrist again—"thirty-five dollars for a single drink."
At this point, a miniscule carrot sliver on my plate suddenly became extremely interesting. I felt the need to stare studiously at it for about thirty seconds. In the meantime, the female friend whispered something in his ear. He shrank back from her, pretending to be shocked, and said, "What are you talking about, honey? They are just two exquisitely beautiful young men, and I am an exceedingly generous tipper."
A man and a woman chose that moment to enter the bar. The woman next to four-flaming-matchsticks fellow leaped up—very quickly I might add—and began a round of introductions. She seemed rather determined to make sure her friend didn't take any—or all—of the bartenders home with him.
Hope bartending pays well at Thai restaurants.