I had graduated from the University of Florida in the spring of 2012 and moved to the Big Apple that summer. I had about $200 to my name so my options were limited regarding my living situation. This is where Craigslist came in handy. Yes, every mom’s worst nightmare, sorry mom. I found some guy in Queens who would let me stay for free. All I had to do, supposedly, was clean the house and walk the dog. I knew nothing about this man, regardless, I jumped on an $89 one-way Spirit flight and rolled the dice. When I got there, I realized he was a pothead. I felt relieved. I was pleasantly surprised when I woke up the first morning on my deflated air mattress, still alive and not murdered. Phew.
Within 2 days, I had landed a job as a bartender/cocktail waitress at a cigar bar on the upper east side. I loved my job because it gave me an excuse to drink alcohol. I was naturally reserved and anxious. Alcohol gave me that push to approach strangers without nervously sweating my ass off. Alcohol made me flirtations, bubbly and gregarious. At the beginning of my drinking career, it transformed my introversion into a social butterfly. Toward the end, it morphed my organic self into a monster, a girl I didn’t even recognize.
On this particular night, I had come to work equipped with my daily dose of vodka. I had a plastic pint of Smirnoff decorated with a red cap, stashed in my over-sized, fake coach purse. In-between serving tables, I would shuffle to the coat room where I would swig from that cheap, magical bottle. I remember walking back out onto the floor feeling empowered, energized and revved. It was the boost of energy that I needed to conquer my shift. It was the boost I needed to conquer my insecurities.
In this picture, my pupils were dilated, and my eyes were glossed over. If my managers knew that I was drinking every hour, I would have been fired. I didn’t think there was any other way. I needed alcohol to be that bubbly girl that every customer adored. If it weren’t for the alcohol, I would have spent the entire night rolling my eyes, giving the cold shoulder and cursing out every creep in that dimly lit bar. Quite frankly, most of the bar-goers annoyed the shit out of me. Fortunately, I had alcohol.
Behind this smile was a broken, self-doubting bartender that required booze to function. She was an alcohol-fueled robot, wearing a tiny black dress and 5-inch heels. She hated cocktail serving and she despised small-talk. She was lost.
Excerpt from Girl, Wasted:
This dingy cigar bar fascinated me. It was the watering well for many successful Wall Streeters, hedge fund owners, celebrities, and rappers. The clientele essentially encompassed a slew of older, wealthy men, willing and able to spend their hard-earned money. This was my watering hole. This was my hunting ground. The second a man walked through the stairwell, I was analyzing and executing my attack. I stalked my prey and marked bull’s-eyes on my budding victims. I audited and inspected each patron the moment he stepped foot into my establishment. I scrutinized his appearance for any cracks, any sign that he was not wealthy. I scanned his buttoned-up shirt for fresh iron marks and made sure his shoes were polished and untarnished. I scanned his wrists for expensive, gaudy watches. Lastly, I scanned his ring fingers for any sign of commitment.