Another segment of a project The Rise and Fall of a Saloon in the Latter Part off The Twentieth Century. These excerpts are not chronological. In fact very little logic prevails…
We needed a waitress who had some flexibility. Time softens the memory but it seemed we needed a girl to work the day shift. This was always a tough spot to fill because of its odd hours, eleven a.m. to one p.m, then back at four p.m. to eight p.m. We might need her cover some night work, too. At the time, our regular daytime waitress was taking some days off…perhaps a vacation, or I was between day shift workers. It doesn’t matter. What mattered was that I needed a cocktail waitress that could work night or day as the job required.
The Bar was pretty popular at the time so I felt that finding a girl wouldn’t be difficult. I was getting asked if we had openings pretty often so I was pretty confident that someone would turn up without me having to revert to newspaper ads. Of course always up for question was whether the candidate would work out but that is an eternal issue with New Hires in any business. In hindsight it sometimes made for episodes worthy of any Hollywood comedy.
Sure enough, a fetching little gamine came in one day asking if I needed a cocktail waitress. She was petite, about 5’1” tall…not much over 100 pounds. She was a pretty girl, more cute than beautiful, barely twenty one, I think. We shall call her “Clarissa” for this telling.
She proudly announced, with a conspiratorial giggle, “I’m Puerto Rican but I also have Large American Breasts.” She made this anatomical announcement with a happy smile. Her pronouncement of having Large American Breasts was delivered with humor, not with suggestiveness. She always said it with a little laugh. Just for the record, her breasts were nicely shaped but were not distractingly large. Not small by any means, but certainly not outsized. She had a nicely turned, slender but well proportioned little figure.
She was one of those women who dyed her dark hair, aiming for blonde but not quite achieving true blonde tone. Still, she was a cutie with a fetching way of dressing and an ever-present smile. All this added up to a pleasing presentation.
When I explained The Job to her I discussed (as I always did) the dress code, such as it was. It was pretty simple…”Never wear jeans, wear what looks good on you.” but I had strictures about ‘exposure.’ One of these was to “Check your dip” before you went to work… meaning to be aware of your breasts and to guard against accidental exposure. Check your outfit by bending forward in front of a mirror if necessary (“checking your dip”). This was to ensure that no accidental boob-baring would occur.
The Rule was that the customer should Never see the color of the girl’s nipples. I liked the crew to look pretty as they wanted to look because I knew it usually meant more tips but I did not want them looking or behaving like tarts.
It was during this conversation that she confessed that she didn’t wear underwear. This gave me some pause. I didn’t mind if a woman chose to not wear a bra but there was a visual risk factor if she went about sans panties. The shorter women often used the square foot rail molding at the base of the bar to elevate themselves while they did their ordering. This could cause unexpected exposure when viewed from certain angles. With some reluctance I said, “Well, OK, just so long as the customers don’t become aware of this condition. No super short skirts. If I hear you’re flashing people, out you go!” She promised to comport herself as I asked and she signed on.
Now as it happened, the daytime bartender was confident in her own effect on men. She was like royalty. The Golden Queen. She had a steady and loyal following. She was a real beauty in the Farrah Fawcett mode and had a knack of making her male customers feel like she was especially attentive to each of them without having to actually get involved with them. This is a rare skill and this kind of bartender is a powerful draw in the saloon business.
Needless to say, she made excellent money.
Clarissa’s first day was, ah, ‘interesting.’ Clarissa had an almost elfin sexual appeal, enhanced by her chatty sense of humor and her extreme femininity in her manner of dress. She always wore dresses, very light and frilly, the kind that triggers fantasies in boys and men. She swept into the job and the sweep had quite an impact. The males, who before had been gazing at the Golden Queen so adoringly, suddenly were sitting on their stools with their backs to the bar watching Clarissa as she laughingly flitted from one table to another taking drink orders. The Boys were all quite infatuated with her even to the point of forgoing their incessant dice games for Carissa’s first few days.
Clarissa’s underwear (or lack of it) was a situation that caused me to send her to the ladies room with safety pins in hand for strategic rearrangement of various drapery openings several times and home to change at least once. The Bar had four good sized ceiling fans and each waitress station had one directly above where the trays were loaded. One hot summer morning the fans were already running when Clarissa came on duty and we got a lesson in aerodynamic physics in the matter of air and cloth.
This being that a fan blowing toward the floor creates a reflective updraft as the air hits the floor and is redirected upward. The effect on a particularly diaphanous dress Clarissa had chosen to wear that day was reminiscent of the scene in The Seven Year Itch. The one where Marilyn Monroe stands over a subway vent causing her skirts to billow upward. When Clarissa went to the waitress station, the fan’s secondary updraft lofted her dress skyward. The threat of exposure caused all sorts of rapid hand flurries as she tried to manage her dress, her money and her tray at the same time. It was really too hot and still to turn off the fan so I sent her home to change as a lesson in using more care in wardrobe selection in the future.
Clarissa would sometimes come in at night to mingle and party. Some bars discourage their crew from coming in off shift but we had no such restraint.
It turned out she was an excellent dancer. I was particularly skilled as a swing dancer. I had a girl I danced with regularly. We’d put in a lot of practice and we were an impressive pair on the dance floor. I took Clarissa for a turn and we jelled quickly. She was quite a bit shorter and lighter than my regular dance partner and she followed well which made her a joy to dance with. She was very petite which meant I could lift her higher easier than my favored partner. Clarissa’s lack of underwear caused some issues while dancing because it was a risk to lift her too high or to spin her too much. Spinning a dancer tends to make their skirts flare and flatten. This would have put exposure of her nether areas at risk. But we made it work and enjoyed our time on the dance floor.
All this caused major friction between my much loved dance mate and myself.
My regular dancer and I weren’t seeing each other romantically but she still felt extremely proprietary about me when it came to that dance floor. We were excellent when we danced together reflecting hours of practice. She didn’t mind me dancing with another woman from time to time because she knew it was good for business because she also knew that she and I were visually untouchable as a dance team. Therefore she was Not Pleased when Clarissa danced with me. She was even less pleased seeing that I was actually enjoying myself in the process. It took some doing for me to get her fur smoothed down. I can’t remember how I did it but I knew I had to avoid a donnybrook between the two. Or my certain assassination on my way home some night.
Clarissa was a fan of Long Island Iced Teas or Margaritas depending on her mood and while she didn’t drink on the job, (a taboo) drinking could cause issues when she was just hanging out… literally. Not so much with her deportment but with her “Large American Breasts.” On two separate occasions the outfits Clarissa wore lacked full containment capability and one or the other of her ‘Large American Breasts’ would come forth to greet the world. I have to admit they were lovely specimens, absolutely perfect in form and pink coloration of areola, but public boob display was not on the agenda for my crew on or off duty. “Tuck it in” had a whole new meaning on those “escape” nights.
When you really think about it, tending bar or cocktailing is a form of show business. The bar staff are actors, each playing their developed bartending or waitressing persona as they go along, always looking for ways to project their chosen ‘character’ role in such a ways as to generate more income in the form of tips.
All things considered, Clarissa was a fun waitress. She was able to flirt with the men (“You’re the Only One”) without getting into trouble with the men’s dates because they could tell it was just her act even when she cited her Large American Breasts. Clarissa was pretty, funny, vivacious and sexy…but there was a problem. When it came to the ‘show business’ she was good on “show” but not so much on the actual “business” part.
Clarissa was, alas, a terrible waitress. She couldn’t add and never got the hang of delivering a proper call order. The nighttime bartenders really didn’t like working with her because of this. Nighttime, particularly on a noisy, busy, Band Night made for too much pressure for speed to tolerate any incompetence at the critical point of ordering and paying for drinks.
She never really got the hang of it at the money point, the all important ordering and pricing, so I had to ease her out and find help elsewhere. That was part of my job. The transitory nature of saloon staff always had me looking for the next ‘star’.
Still, I think of Clarissa often and with great affection. True, she wasn’t a good waitress, but she had her own way of lighting up her shifts. Even after all these years, thinking of her makes me smile…
I hope she’s doing well… she was a sweetie…