Saturday, February 10, 2007

What happens when you get behind a bar after reading Henri Nouwen's "Can You Drink the Cup" and Miroslav Volf's "Exclusion and Embrace"

It was nice to be back on the job today. Though Intiman Theatre is on season hiatus, the Early Music Guild has a production of Monteverdi’s “Pappea” going on this and next weekend, so I’m back behind the bar for a bit. Bartending brings out a part of my personality that I rarely see. I think it’s the same part that emerged when I was House Managing Off-Broadway. Simply put, it’s my “Customer Service” self, a self that’s really good at short bursts of cordial conversation about people’s recent trips to Germany or how it’s evil to put Scotch on the rocks, or whatever it is that people feel like telling me while I get their change. I find I’m amazed at my ability to interact with this kind of dialogue, since it’s usually about things I know or care nothing about. If I was actually at a bar, and not at a theatre, maybe I’d be able to bring a bit more of myself, but I always feel kind of goofy when a customer leaves with their drink and I think “My voice has never sounded that giddy and cheerful in real life”. Though, I’ve begun to notice that I’m (thankfully) getting less sardonic and the part of me that is intensely passionate about roller-skating is starting to emerge more regularly.

My other thoughts from tonight behind the bar:

My favorite part of the night is right after intermission when everyone has run back to their seats and there’s a peaceful vacuum of silence before act II starts and I go around the lobby gathering all the glasses that are spread around the tables and bar. I realized tonight that I think of the glass gathering like a video game or something. I survey the carnage, then keep track. Every wine glass I find is one point towards the tip jar, highball glasses 2 points, and man, a ten martini glass night means I know I’m walking away with some serious cash. Albeit, it’s theater bar cash not local bar cash, but whatever it is, it’s in my wallet now. I love surveying the damage and collecting the glasses and placing them in the special glass washer machine in the most space efficient way possible. I love space efficiency!

The other thing I was thinking about tonight occurred to me when I looked at the coat check closet. It caught my eye as I was passing, how all these coats were hung so tightly together, most of them looking like they were embracing the coat next to them. I thought about how if these coat’s owners were in the coats, the coats would not be getting this intimacy time. And I flashed back to my Essential Community class last Friday, where after celebrating communion with good wine in a real goblet that every single person passed one at a time, raising it to the group, drinking, then giving it to the next person to raise and drink and so on until the final person stood in the center and drank the cup to the dregs, drinking fully the cup of life, the cup of Christ- so that we would hold that image and drink fully ourselves of life, of Christ, of everything that means. Well, after that sacred time, we were told to share the peace, which means you go around embracing one another and blessing each other. In that particular setting, it was a special and honoring thing to offer one another. I, however, quickly mumbled to the person next to me “Oh No, this is my least favorite part of any church service”. It is SO HARD for me to do the hand shaking “Hi, I’m Kj” thing every Sunday. I know I’m not the only one. But sharing the peace isn’t that. It’s blessing one another, the way you do when you give a great toast. But I had quickly and literally, sheltered myself in the corner of the group, hoping to avoid as many embraces as possible. Kj, the great unhuggable one was stuck not knowing what to do. After each embrace, whether it was awkward or appreciated I said to myself “okay, that’s the last one”. But then one of our teachers came around and embraced each of us and I was really able to receive that, like a beloved family friend. After that I felt a little more able to go with it. I wanted to, but so much of me resists being vulnerable and open in the way that an embrace symbolizes. So I thought about those coats holding each other gently, side by side, quietly being close with one another, and I really wanted a hug tonight. At Mars Hill, I’m starting to pinpoint a lot of the sources of how and why I relate to people, and I think my comfort level with touch is starting to circulate in my brain. So for now, if I’m still not good at giving hugs, I might start at least working on being able to receive them. It sounds cheesy, but honestly, some of you know what I’m talking about. Have I ever REALLY embraced you? No, it’s like a running joke. So I hope that by the next time I see you guys, I’ll be a better hugger and a more overall embracing type person.

That’s what I was thinking tonight back behind the bar while I gave myself smell tests trying to recognize the difference between Tanqueray and Bombay Sapphire Gin. There is definitely a difference.

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