“Hey, pal, c’mon, you’re gonna be late for work.”
“Nah, it’s cool, I got the week off.” ...Like that.
I worked behind the bar at the Mardi Gras last night. The MG is always looking for new girls the way the circus picks up showgirls and clowns at every stop. The MG is the Big Top. It’s the Show. Not some little roughneck joint like the Golden Dollar with one or two barmaids and five or six girls rotating on and off stage. The Mardi Gras looks high class from where I stand.
I walk in and the bouncer, clean cut in a suit and a smile, cause like I said, this is the fucking Show, this bouncer, he stops me just as I come through the double doors. His voice is soft, his smile, soothing. Double J, You’re not working tonight, he says. I’m not saying you have to go home, his hand on my shoulder, an older brother, looking out for my best interest, but you should, you should go home, take a few days. Someone will call…
Did I think it’d be different here? Because of a few suits and ties? It’s not.
But, I want to be here. I want to get lost in the vastness of here. I’m tired of Myron making me cry. Of Maxie treating me like crap. Or maybe it’s all about the Big Man. I expected them to take care of me. I’m not even sure what I mean by that, but I damn sure mean more than just 86′ing him for two weeks. So I left. I finally walked the two blocks.
And somehow I’ve fucked this up before I even get a chance to fuck it up.
Myron’s mad cause I’m making money for someone else. I like being important enough to fight over. There’s a sit down to decide where I’ll wind up working. No one asks me what I want. No one cares what I think. I’m worth fighting for. Shit. That’s enough for me.
It’ll be years before I realize that everyone I know, everywhere I go, everywhere I work belongs to, and all the money I make goes to, Matty the Horse. Years before I get that that night was all about respect. No one was fighting over me. I was evidence of disrespect, of middle management not following protocol. It’s like a Detroit assemblyline. I get tired of screwing this bolt on the Pintos so without asking I move over to the other assembly line and start screwing the lugnut on the Mustangs. Same job, two different line bosses. I was a labor dispute between two middle managers and Matty the Horse was Ford. And Chrysler. And General Motors for that matter. It was about them showing each other respect, it never was about me.
Go home, they tell me. You don’t work here. I don’t work anywhere, that’s the implication, I get it. What they mean is No one will hire you. You’re a problem until we decide you’re not.
It wasn’t about me. Not even a little bit, not even for a second. I was still no one. Only now I was no one in a bigger bar.