Anyone for a red-headed slut?”

Sarah Royce
Bartlein lines up shot glasses, a regular occurrence in her job. (EMMA NOLAN-ABRAHAMIAN/Daily)

Immediately I look up.

Is this person talking about me? Should I be insulted? Should I counter attack with my quick wit and say something demeaning about his double-popped collars or that he’s trying to pull off three variations of the color pink? You see, my hair is arguably red (the argument being that my hair has reddish hues, but that I will deny this fact to the bitter end, or at least quickly change the subject). But I am by no means a slut.

Instantly, it all becomes clear – the claws retract. This typical college frat guy isn’t talking about me; he’s referring to a colorful blend of Jaegermeister, peach Schnapps and cranberry juice. Shaker in hand, I easily mix the concoction.

I absolutely love my job working at one of the most notable bars on campus. Though I will not be able to actually drink at a bar for another 15 months, I love being part of the atmosphere. Bartending is the perfect job for me because it’s okay to be loud and laugh a lot; or, my personal favorite – laughing loudly (yeah, I’ll admit it, my cackle has been recognized and ridiculed at distances of up to three blocks). At the bar, I have even been able to conquer one of my biggest fears: dressing up in costume.

Ever since I can remember, I have always been anxious on days when costume attire was required. This fear extended to pep-rallies, pajama days and the biggest day of illusion, Halloween. I was always afraid to be the only one dressed up. This year, I found myself working on Halloween, so to be somewhat festive, I tentatively dressed up as a football player. I chose a costume that was relatively safe because I didn’t know whether or not the other bartenders would be dressed up. It was much to my relief and enjoyment when I walked into the bar and saw one of my co-workers in a life-size Scooby Doo costume (I’m sure the paws made it hard to pour drinks) and another dressed as a baby, complete with bib and diaper. With a jar of chocolate at my disposal, this was by far my favorite Halloween experience to date.

Usually the customers at the bar seem so eager to meet people. I am an easy target not only because I am enclosed behind a bartop, but I have been told that I “have one of those faces.” That’s right, I probably look just like your best friend from back home or your next-door neighbor. I am used to this. But it startled me when one, obviously intoxicated, girl emphatically called me her “sister.” I do have a sister, but this was definitely not her. In fact, I had never seen this person in my life. Yet she kept insisting – and even mentioned our parents getting married. I was understandably confused until it turned out that this girl, who just took a tequila shot, was right in a sense. My dad and her mom actually are dating, but I was not expecting our introductions to take place on opposite sides of a bar.

Anyway, you can find me mixing drinks and providing casual conversation, or on busy nights a quick nod or tired smile, behind the bar at one of Ann Arbor’s hot spots. I work every Wednesday and Friday nights.

Oh, and if you’re impressed with my work, don’t offer to buy me a shot – I won’t be able to take it for two years (I’m 19 but you only have to be 18 to bartend.) Also, because I’m not even old enough to go to the bar, I’m probably not old enough to marry any of you fine bachelors out there. The proposals seem really heartfelt, but don’t be disappointed when I respectfully decline. However, tips are much appreciated.

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