Shortly after resigning from my “real” job as director of a children’s shelter, some of my contacts at the organization got in touch with me to see if I would join one of their volunteer committees. It was billed as a “networking opportunity” and a “chance to give back,” although this latter notion made me want burst into laughter so hard I would double over before straightening and looking at these people through watery eyes, ask, “Wait, you’re serious?” I was pretty confident I had given plenty back in my nearly 4 years, but I signed on anyway, mostly just because I like the feeling of being recruited for things. It doesn’t matter how mundane the opportunity is, if you tell me you “thought of me first,” or “think I would be great for this,” I’m in. I want you to want me is what I’m saying here. (Yep, I went with the Letters to Cleo/Ten Things I Hate About You cover version there. Deal with it.)
One of my fellow committee members won a free happy hour not long ago, for her and something like 50 friends or some crazy number like that. Who on Earth has 50 people they actually want to spend time with just waiting in the wings? I can think of approximately 7 people on the face of the planet I would actually enjoy spending an hour drinking with. The number expands to 11 if some of then will take their clothes off. I can’t even think of 50 people I begrudgingly tolerate, let alone people whom like and would willingly spend time with. Apparently, this chick had a similar issue, because she just invited the rest of the committee and whoever else they wanted to bring. I don’t really know any of these people, but I am not really at a time in my life when I think it is reasonable or prudent to turn down free drinks, so I went.
Of course, because that’s how obnoxious things like this work, the bar was in Midtown. The last time I went to an open bar in Midtown, a bouncer assaulted one of my friends and the police showed up to close down the bar. My boy narrowly avoided arrest, but the real tragedy of the night was that it all went down just as I was starting to make progress with that Asian girl. There’s no justice in this world. And that’s just one of the reasons I hate Midtown, another of which became immediately evident as soon as I walked in the bar. Why — in the name of all that is decent and true in this world — do all Midtown bars look the same? They’re all designed to have this cold, austere appearance where everything is all right angles and high ceilings and rectangular spaces. Every single one of them looks like somewhere you would kill time while waiting for flight. Or where you’d meet a hooker. About 46% of the men there looked as though they were doing the latter.
I left after two Stellas (when in Rome…), but not before using the bathroom, which, predictably had an attendant. This reminded me of a piece I scrawled in my journal a few months ago, which I will now share with you. Keep in mind that this is straight from my private journal, which is the first stop just outside my unfiltered brain, so proceed with caution. I recommend taking breaks to stave off bouts of nausea, dizziness, vertigo, and homicidal ideations. If you are prone to seizures, just stop right now and go lie down or something. Please.
On Christmas Day this year, my parents and I, along with some other guests, had brunch at a well-known, upper crust restaurant in SoHo (ed. note: It was Balthazar, and it was delicious.). It was a lengthy affair, involving soup courses, entrees, prix fixe menus, pre- and post-brunch drinks, coffee, dessert, and no shortage of stimulating conversation over the course of about 4 hours. Toward the end of the affair, I had to — as one might expect — use the restroom. I was not surprised to find that this particular bathroom had an attendant. While this was hardly the first occasion I had to encounter one, this was the first time I wondered: why? Why on Earth do bathroom attendants exist?
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m glad the man has a job. I’m sure that the occupation provides a niche for unskilled laborers to earn a wage, and I’m all for that. I’ll even admit there was a time when I enjoyed the service; it made me feel fancy. Mostly in strip clubs. These days, though, it just makes me feel awkward.
I’m not going to tip him. I’m not going to pay for a service I didn’t request and don’t need or even want, which makes me look (and feel) a little like an asshole. I mean, the guy’s there, doing his job, handing me towels and what not, so I feel obliged to compensate him. And yet, I find it totally unnecessary and without value. A lot of the time I feel so uncomfortable about the prospect of the towel hand off routine that I just leave without washing my hands. (Dinner companions, beware!)
This time, though, I was fortunate. The attendant’s break happened to coincide exactly with my own, so he was taking respite in a stall for the duration of my visit. So, I was spared the discomfort and was able to thoroughly wash (and dry!) my hands in peace, which I’m sure would be a comfort to my family with whom I was sharing a meal, had they known.
I also snagged a full matchbox on my way out. Maybe the attendant isn’t totally without value.
(*With apologies to Drake.)