the porny bartender

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Three years ago, I was reading a book in a bar in WA state. When I glimpsed the bartender, I rolled my eyes. She was a robo-babe: fake blonde hair, fake huge boobs, makeup applied with a putty knife, and clothes appropriate only if you're grinding on potential date-rapists in a club. I said nothing to her other than my drink order. Not my kind of people.

About a year later, I was back. She was there again. After neglecting me for a time, she walked over and uncertainly said "Basil Manhattan, up, right?"

It's amazing how all my prejudices melt away if you remember my drink order. My kind of people.

Her name is Katie. Her personality was not remotely what I would have guessed from outward appearances. She's ditzy, kind, weird, and funny. If you took Phoebe from Friends and squeezed her into the body of a coke-addled porn star, you would have Katie. She is, in fact, a former Hooters calendar girl. I cringed when she started to tell me that, and she immediately stopped. "Well now I feel stupid," she said sadly. I felt bad. For all the whorish artifice, she's inwardly dorky and lovable, a devoted girlfriend and stepmom. I like her despite myself.

When I was leaving WA last year, her barstool was one of my last stops. She gave me free drinks, then grabbed my phone. She texted "I owe you $100" to herself, then added herself to my contacts so we could stay in touch. It was a sweet gesture. Not sweet, I didn't stay in touch.

The other night, I went to sleep with earbuds in. Around 3am, Katie texted me. That's when I discovered that she'd assigned herself the "train whistle" text tone. It blared directly into my ears. My subconscious incorporated this into my dream, where I was promptly massacred by a train in my mother's living room.

Being awakened by a porn star is not quite what I imagined.