The Bartender

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He was running late and I had zero experience pouring drinks. About fifteen people had already arrived for the estimated 50-60 person tailgate in our house and yard, and I couldn’t quite afford to lose a vendor at this stage in the game.
I stepped out front to call him. His calm voice cheerily picked up, assuring me he was five minutes away. No apology, no lack of confidence.
When he arrived, I questioned the tired redness of his eyes, but couldn’t contest at this point. He got right to work, running circles around the guests premeditating drinks, cleaning up, and chasing people down with drinks they thought they had abandoned.
Just before the masses left, he joined me in the kitchen to help with the dishes. I was appalled by how helpful he was; I would remember this for the future.  When we were washing up the last of the dishes, he let me know that he was also attending that day’s football game. “Oh no!” I exclaimed, looking at the clock. I had surely made him late and was completely unaware. He assured me it was okay, then asked with affirmation, “it’s okay if I keep my truck parked in your driveway, right?”
Actually, I wasn’t sure. There were more events to follow the game, and I knew my husband would need his vehicle. I managed to find an extra parking pass for a lot just across the way and gave it to him. He didn’t seem to keen on the idea, and pointed out that he was already trapped behind another unidentified vehicle. Rats.
He asked if he and (I assume his girlfriend/bartender #2) could change for the game in our bathroom. Of course it was okay- it could only take a few minutes.
Nearly 15 minutes later, as I was locking up, I heard a noise inside the house. They were still inside?! I had nearly locked them in, unaware their dressing would take so long. When he emerged, he said thanks, and then asked if I had an extra set of gameday tickets.
Strange. He had already told me he was going to the game. Uncomfortable and without my other half who would have the answer I expected, I told him I didn’t know. He asked me to text him when I got inside if I had extras, that he’d just be waiting outside of the stadium.
When I left, I shook it all off as weird. But at least everyone was out of my house and it was time I caught up with the group since it was almost quarter 2.
After the game, I hurried back to the house to get ready for some of the partygoers to return to hang out before their next stop. In the backyard,  several groups were mingling. I sat inside the living room with a group of about 5-6 people.
I felt a warm grip on my bare shoulder that rubbed down and then up before I could spin from my chair to see who was touching me.
“Heeeyyyyyyyy,” said the bartender. His job had ended exactly 3 hours ago.
He was inebriated, and somehow, he was back in my house.  My apparent look of shock led him to follow with, “calllmmm down.”
I now had an audience.
“Did you find the keys you left?” I asked. Though I knew very well that he shouldn’t be behind the wheel.
“Oh yeah, I got those.” He said.
I couldn’t figure out what he wanted then. Why was he in the house, with the party still happening, drunk and oogling me?
“I didn’t mean to impose,” he said. Phew! He must have felt the awkward tension and was planning to leave. But he didn’t.
Instead, I watched him walk right past me, open the backdoor, go down the steps, open the cooler, pop open a Coors Light (!), and proceed to walk straight to one of the chatting circles of businessmen.
I couldn’t stop it from happening, but watching from the window was tortuous. It unfolded in slow motion. Eventually, he was kindly let to the gate, where he scrounged for his keys and made an exit.
It was one of those, “you don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here” situations unlike I’ve never experienced.
For future,  I’ll be sure I can make mimosas.

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