If there was a place I could be other than in Dr. River's office, I guessed I would have been there. I sighed as I knocked on his door, here I am again. He opened the door with a warm smile, shook my hand and guided me to the chair where I would spill my guts. I asked him what should I talk about and his response was, "anything you want." I thought about the myriad of issues floating around my head, but the one thing that was puzzling me was my new job at The Encore,however the training with Gilbert was going well. I worked every day with him behind the bar, and I was learning so much more. How to make a drink in a shaker, like a martini, and what goes in a Pina Colata, just for starters. How to pour the perfect draft beer, and so on, Gilbert was truely a Master Mixologist. Mixing drinks was fun, even if the dirty old men at the daytime bar were getting their rocks off watching my breasts shake under my blouse as I mixed the drinks. I saw it, it was obvious when their tongues were hanging out. "I'm now training as a bartender at my job." I offered him up for questioning. "Is that something you want to do?" he asked me with interest. "Well, I can't say it was ever in my plans of what I would do, but it seems to be going ok." I could not brave it to tell him I was being ogled by the daytime "alchies" who perched at Gilbert's bar; their second home. "I feel embarrassed sometimes when they stare at me." I said in a softer voice. Dr. Rivers looked at me, and pondered this. "Why do it then if it makes you feel uncomfortable?" I thought about how Art said he would watch over me, when I make my big debut on my first night but I never factored in the training in the daytime where Gilbert, who was nothing but sweet and polite to me, could take over from Art...especially when Art wasn't there. Somehow, it wasn't the same. "I know my Boss will watch over me when I finish my training, and I think it will be ok, anyway, I'll make more money." Dr. Rivers thought and didn't say anything so I quickly changed the subject. "I guess if I could I would go back to school, it's summer now anyway... but this is it for now." He nodded. "Shawn, I wonder if you would like to read a book that I found very useful. It is a book I base all my therapy with clients on, and it might give you some insight into yourself and others." I was interested, "Yes, what it is?" Dr. Rivers went to a shelf and took off a book, which he then handed to me. I read the title aloud, "Games People Play, Transactional Analysis, By, Dr. Eric Bernes." I looked up at him. "It will help you to understand that we all relate from three places in our psyche, which are: the Parent State, the Adult State, and the Child State but not all together and often not when we should. You'll see what I mean, will you read it and let me know what you think about it next week?" "Yes, ok." I agreed and I was curious. I asked him questions about this book. He answered them all. Then we talked about my family. And my time in California. And some of my dreams. Then that was it, our time was up for that day. I went to the car, put the book down on the front seat and drove home. I had another day of training and I had to be at the Encore by 11:30 am. I was not used to the daytime again. I changed into my black slacks and a striped cotton shirt for behind the bar. This time I would not wear my heels as they kept getting caught in the slats on the floor. There was always a wooden slatted floor that bartenders walked on behind the bar. I didn't know why it was there but I guessed so when the water or booze or ice went on the floor the bartender wouldn't slip and break their neck! I entered into the blackness which was The Encore, Shadyside. "Hi Shawn, how ya doing today?" it was Gilbert giving me a big hello. I smiled at him when my eyes adjusted from the hot July morning sun to this darkened room. The waitresses were all getting ready for the lunch crowd and were there before me. I spent just 3 hours there with Gilbert. He was the boss here, and I his meager assistant/trainee. I crawled under the service bar and put my purse under the shelf behind the bar. "You take the service bar today, Shawn, any problem, just shout, ok?" I hoped I was ready for this. So far my training was for 3 days. Was I ready for the fast lunch crowd and the waitresses who I did not want to screw up their orders for their customers? I could feel my face getting hot. "INCOMING!" shouted Franny to me. She must have wondered what the hell I was doing there. In fact, they all must have, but nevertheless I was there, acting like I knew what I was doing with the bravest of bravado. "What do you need, Fran?" "3 Miller Lites, 2 Drafts- Coors, and 1 Coke." I reached down to the bottles beers and opened 3 Miller Lites, she took the glasses from me as well. I iced the Coke glass and poured it into the glass from the well. I then got out two draft beer mugs and set one under the beer tap and leaned it in as I poured it, to get the right amount of head on the beer. So far, so good. "Not bad, you're learning but a bit faster." Fran took her drinks on her tray and went speedily to her tables. " A dry Martini on the Rocks and two Manhattans and one White Wine Spritzer, please," was the next waitress's call to me. I got the shaker, filled it with ice and took the shot glass and as Gilbert had taught me, to a long 3 count or a short 10 count...in my head I counted as I poured the Gin into the shot..".One...two...three.." then into the shaker and then added the touch of dry Vermouth. I shook the mix, held the strainer and poured it into the Martini glass, now the Manhattans.. I mixed two shots worth of Rye Whiskey, added the sweet Vermouth and then a dash of bitters, strained and into two glasses with ice in them. Now, the White Wine Spritzer; a tall glass filled with ice, added the white wine from the well, added a bit of soda. Done. The waitresses all dressed the drinks, with cocktail straws and cherries or lemon twists or olives. The day went on and it was touch and go, I was learning but not fast enough. I had to whip those drinks out in seconds, and I wasn't even taking the money yet, or adding the costs up in my head! "You'll get the speed, it will come, don't worry!" Gilbert assured me. "Hey, whose the sexy new bartender, Gilbert?!" One guy called out as I was pouring drinks for my waitresses. "That's Shawn, and she is a great gal, I am training her..now be nice!" Gilbert admonished him. Gilbert was very nice to me and protective of me but I had to get used to this and I knew it. I had to find the way to "quip back" or I might get slaughtered here. Luckily I had made some plans. The daytime music in the Encore was from the Hi Fi, 70's classics of soft rock, easy listening and what was in the charts. The live jazz was at night.
I was looking forward to tonight. Robbie and I were going out for the evening, hitting this new disco which opened downtown called, "Heaven". We heard it was great and wanted to check it out. Since I was training during the day, I wasn't working nights but I was being paid as a bartender, so that was ok. My tips were from the waitresses, just like I used to give the bartender, but I told Gilbert, that this was his money. "No, I insist! You earned it!" he said. I had gone through the ropes, spilled a few drinks, dropped a few glasses and broke them and cut myself when I was slicing more lemons for the garnish boxes. Some of my Dad's cronies were in there, too, just glaring at me. Gilbert gave me a wink and we just kept working. I had earned it all. I left there stinking of booze with a bandage on my hand. But Thank the Lord for the Night Time...as I was going out dancing, and I was going to have a good time with Robbie. "What time will you pick me up?" I called her when I got home. "About 10:00? Don't want to get there too early. Hey Shawnny, what are you wearing?" she asked me also excited. "I don't know, it's hot as hell, what are you wearing?" I asked back. "I'll find something cool, but the air conditioning will be on, too." She was right, everywhere was air conditioned. I was thinking about our electric bill now, as I enjoyed the comfort of our air conditioning at home. Something I never thought about before...wondering what that will cost me? I left that question hanging in mid air. Had a shower, washed the smell of booze and bar off me. I took out a black twirl skirt with a big belt, which I had also bought at "Yesterday's News", the length was to the calf and a red cotton sleeveless top, which had a sweet round collar with little pearl buttons. I wore red heels with little white ankle socks, and a clutch bag which was also red, put my make-up on with red lipstick, too. Robbie beeped for me and I came out to her mother's car which she was borrowing. I was so happy to see her.She looked great, too. It was her night off from the Top Shelf and she didn't want to waste it. I knew I had to get up early but the heck with it, we were going out to dance, maybe meet some guys and enjoy what all girls our age were doing. We entered the gates of Heaven as if we had landed in Gay Heaven. I looked around this vast place with 3 floors and I shouted in Robbie's ear...above the Disco music which was pounding the heaving dance floor, "any straight men in here??" Robbie looked around..."Not a one!" We both laughed. "Screw it, let's get a drink anyway." I said, watching the men dancing with each other. She nodded and we headed for the bar. We weren't the only women there, there were many, probably just as perplexed as us, but the music was brilliant and so was the dance floor. "Well, the music is great...let's dance anyway, and we'll head over to the Rhino later." Dancing on the disco floor I never saw so many gorgeous looking men. "Robbie, look at him." I was pointing them out, one by one and some you would never know if they weren't holding another man's hands to dance. "Yeah, oh my God! He's beautiful! Well, at least we'll be safe in here!" She shouted back as we danced away. I had to laugh. The music was the real star of this show and what the heck, we might lose a few pounds, we got up and boogie oggie, oggied, till we just couldn't boogie no more! This Gay Disco knew how to throw a heck of a party!
(See The Disco Video on the right and all the 70's Videos to get an idea of what music was playing on the radio during this time besides the Jazz at The Encore.)
The Pittsburgh Phantom and Me By, Shawn M. Cohen. Copyright 2010. These excerpts are from a book I have been writing of the same name. All events are true, some names are changed to protect people's privacy. All Video content and the music therein is copyrighted to the musicians, performers and songwriters. No copyright infringement intended.