Cold as Ice

Every night at last call, the lights go up and the bar atmosphere burns away just a little bit.  At very nearly the same time, the jukebox ceases to crank out whatever hip-hop or dubstep song is playing.  Christmas carols fill the air.  Those are my signals to turn off the row of pinball machines and inform the Texas Jenga players that the game they are working on is the last one of the night.  As each set goes down, I thank the players and tell them that they can leave the cleanup to me and go take care of tabs and such.  Sometimes they stick around and help me clean up anyway.  That’s pretty cool.  Once each set is re-stacked, I put a chair upside down on top of it.  Sort of a “This attraction is closed” sign.

Last night, I had a group of semi-regulars actually finish their game, clean it up, and put a chair on top of it.  Talk about cool people.  I can’t recall ever having a problem with any of them, and I have a pretty good memory.  Balance must be maintained, however.  Enter half-drunk girl who is used to just being given everything she wants.

I will admit, she was hot.  Blonde, blue eyes, fit, wearing a green mini-dress and black heels.  I was working on cleaning up the third or fourth of the five indoor sets when I saw the chair come down off of one I had already done.  I wasn’t mad about it.  I figured, “Someone must be new here.”  Things happen. I’m pretty fast at stacking the blocks at this point, so I blaze through the clean up and dart over to the newly re-opened set.

“Sorry, miss.  We’re all done playing Jenga for the night.”  I flip the chair up onto the stack again.  I’ve done the maneuver so often I feel like I could be on a drill team.  She points at the other table that’s still playing and asks the obvious question.

“At last call, I tell everyone to finish their games.  Those people are still working on theirs.”  She bats her eyes at me.  They really are something.  They sparkle.

“Please,” she asks.

There are two things she doesn’t know about me.  First, nothing angers me faster than an attempt to manipulate me.  I once read a book wherein some of the characters adopted the mantra, “My will, or I won’t.”  It’s something like that.  The second thing is that I try very hard to be fair.  I had just told two other groups that they couldn’t start new games and just abandon them when the last players lost.  My job is much easier when people think that the rules apply to everyone in the same way.

“No.”  Not even a second’s hesitation.  I’m fairly sure my eyes went flat.  I didn’t even crack a grin.

“You’re cold!”

“Yes, I am.”  Now I cracked a grin; I had just finished closing down the patio and it was about 12 degrees Fahrenheit.  My skin was literally ice cold.  I guess she thought my grin was a thawing of sorts.



“You’re cold!”

“Yeah, I am.”  I held out my hand.  She touched it.

“Oh my God!  You ARE cold!”

“No heartbeat,” I said as I thumped my chest.  I kept smiling.  The second to last tower fell.  I skipped over and thanked the couple for playing and we cleaned up the blocks.  I looked over as I worked.  Guess who was taking the chair off of a set of blocks?  I finished and skipped back over to her.  My voice goes flat and mechanical.  “If you take another chair off of the blocks, I WILL throw you out.”  She looks pouty, but I can read in her eyes that she believes me.  Good.  I watch as she and her friend horn in on the last standing game.  It ends quickly and they disappear.  Apparently I didn’t make a new friend.  Whatever.

One of the cocktail waitresses later told me that she and her friend were watching and her friend bet that I would let the girl play because she was hot.  “No,” she had told her friend.  “He doesn’t give a fuck.”

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