Good Narrative Principles

On A Cold Night


IMG_2109Sherri fought hard to land a job as a Bartender at the red sauce joint in town. It had a well-deserved reputation among the acting community for attracting big tippers. The service was impeccable, a study in how to take orders, upsell appetizers and desserts and then how to properly bus the table. The empty plates should be arrayed on the upper arm with forks and knives facing away from the guest. Management even insisted that the table be scraped free of crumbs before the dessert menu was offered. It was, in short, an old world restaurant. The food was mediocre, but no one seemed to notice or care.

The bar was just the kind of sweet set up that Sherri had hoped for. Guests lingered while waiting for their table. The tips were more than generous and no one ever tried to grope her across the mahogany bar as they had on others jobs. Best yet, she could squeeze in an audition or callback during the day.

On a Tuesday, Sherri woke up with large welts on her wrists. The culprit was candied pecans, a favorite of management and customers alike. The pecans had a spicy kick that encouraged customers to gulp their drinks and order seconds.

Not quite buying this notion of a sudden nut allergy, Sherri ordered a Bailey’s Irish Cream on her night off and immediately felt the flush that was the prelude to itchy hives. Who knew there might be pecans in her favorite liqueur?

Sherri went to the bathroom to have a good cry. But commandeering one of two stalls at her favorite drinking hole wasn’t ethical, so Sherri lingered near the cigarette machine until she regained her composure. Her eyes were puffy. Her make-up smeared. The injustice of it all, the fact that she had to curtail anything, had to moderate her appetites because her body betrayed her at age twenty-four no less, struck Sherri as tragic.

Back at work, Sherri tried various strategies to minimize her exposure to pecans. She wrapped her wrists in gauze, as if she were nursing sprained wrists. Management sent her home. She tried getting her buddies in the kitchen to refill the bowls, which worked great in the off hours, but when the place was jumping the kitchen guys cursed her in Spanish and ordered her out.

So she quit the first job she had ever loved and sold extended warranties to Sear’s customers on the phone. Sherri honed her craft by watching soap operas during lunch in the cafeteria’s nut free zone and practicing odd accents on her calls until she was told to cut it out. But by then it was time to quit this lousy humiliating job and search for the next one.

On a happier note, Sherri just got word that she’d been cast as Girl #4 in an indy film shooting this summer.

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