"Would you like another cocktail?," I asked.
I was working my first night behind the bar. She was drinking Marker's Mark & 7-Up. The bar actually was hooked up to Coca-Cola products, so in reality it was a Maker's & Sprite. But no one ever ordered that. At a bar it's 7-Up or else you couldn't order the classic 7&7, and that is that.
Her drink was about three-fourths of the way dry. I heard the wet thud of melded ice slide into the flat, glass bottom of her beverage.
She was blonde. Even in her mid-30s I believe her hair was naturally very pale. She was short, athletic looking with ruddy cheeks. She leaned forward onto the bar's top on her forearms, one shin in the barstool. She used her other leg to push against the brass banister near the floor. She got very close to my face.
"Would you like a cocktail," she said. It was not a question. I peered back at her, a wet rag in my hand.
I was nervous about being a drink slinger. Bartenders know shit, and I didn't know shit. "If you don't know how to make something, speak up. Just tell them. There is no shame in being a rookie." Words of wisdom from my trainer ran laps in my head.
"Would you like a cocktail." She repeated herself. Again, this was not a question.
The bar was relatively empty that Sunday night. There was NFL football on both big screen t.v.s. I was scheduled for my first shift on a slow night so I could get my sea legs. Despite a small number of patrons, Sunday night was when the regulars came out en masse. At this bar, perhaps at any bar, the regulars were also fully committed alcoholics.
"Lemme give you some advice," she slurred at me with an old money accent that reeked of Kentucky, disappointment and privilege. Her empty drink was the first she'd ordered. From us. "Never ask if someone wants another cocktail. Don't be gauche." Her final, declarative sentence clung in the air.
Her eyes were glassy and blank. She was still leaning onto her arms at me over the bar. Her fists held the laquered wood, and her knuckles were white. She pulled her lips back over slick teeth, and smiled a smile draped in bourbon and condescension.
"Can I get you one more, man?," I heard my trainer ask a guest in the corner.
"Yeah," the gentleman replied. "One more."