How to Be a Regular

“You don’t understand,” server Max at K’nB Wine Cellars said.  “We thought it was their first date. The way your mom was laughing at your Dad’s jokes. We thought they were a brand new couple. We were betting on whether they would last or not.” He took my empty glass to get me a new IPA, waved it around as he talked. “To discover they actually are married, for like years, and they have two functional kids-”

“Well.” I interjected with a smile.

“Whatever, Sami. LIke you guys are in college and you’re pretty good kids. Anyway it blew my mind.”

4-5 years later my parents still go to K’nBs and though he no longer works there, Max is one of my friends, whose notorious “cabin” parties I’ve frequently attended. And he’s gone to baseball games etc. with my parents and a QOTSA concert with all of us.

My mom’s unrestrained laugh is still a familiar sound there, even infamous; from far away her cackle alerts the staff to her presence. In their heyday, my parents have been whisked to tucked away tables on packed nights, bought drinks by staff, and had coasters thrown at them. All of the perks of being a regular — of being customers that helped support this business when it first began.

This is where my parents met. Well, that's what K'nB Wine Cellars believed for the longest time.

This is where my parents met. Well, that’s what K’nB Wine Cellars believed for the longest time.

Become a regular. Find a local bar just starting to establish itself. Go on Mondays because you need a beer to recover from the trauma of restarting your work week. Go on Tuesdays because you wish you came with an appetite on Monday and really wanted to try those sliders but, tomorrow, I’ll be back tomorrow. Go on Wednesdays because you’re halfway to the weekend and they have that special on craft drafts. Go on Thursdays because, why the hell not?

Tip well. Tip 20%. Get too drunk and tip 30%. Fuck it, 40%. Tip so much that they apply every possible discount to your order because they’re expecting your big tip and it almost embarrasses them to be treated so well.

Get free french fries when they screw up someone else’s order and have extra. Get free french fries when they screw up your order. Tease them for screwing up your order. Be teased for being loud and drunk. Be asked about your life, work, family. Bring dates and exchange knowing glances and feel like a hotshot.

And, most of all, smile when they remember you like a rum pineapple with lime.

The usual?

Yes, please.

The Other Holiday Hangover — the dread of going back to work.

You know what my mom said the other day?

She had just opened a gift of those coffee-bomb things you put in fancy espresso makers. She said, “I can’t wait to go back to work tomorrow.” Ostensibly to use the things, but also because she is a freak that loves working.

My dad always says, as an example of how the two of them are so different, that his favorite day is Friday, and her favorite day is Monday. I’m more like my dad. It doesn’t matter what my job is, at some level I will always hate it.

I currently actually really like my day job. I get to tell people what to do, show up in my pajamas, and feel like the hero on the daily because I’m the most technically proficient person on staff.

But, every morning, it’s still a fight between the tattered, flimsy bits I call my work ethic and this unknowable dread…

It’s worse after a weekend, and worse still after a holiday. The longer I spend time away from work, the longer this dread builds inside of me. It’s as if I forget that work is something I must do, and I start believing that vacation could be permanent.

I don’t know if “normal people” (or at least people like my mom) have a different perspective on work but I suspect they do. I don’t think everyone has a gremlin living in their cupboards, like an evil Doby the house elf, that just wants to be set free. I can only guess that my resistance to a normal work schedule began with public school, when my teenage internal clock fought the 7:55am start time. Getting up in the morning to a day that doesn’t belong to me feels like prison.

I could try to take ownership of my work, so that I might look forward to it more — but I feel my true work will always be my writing. I have to barricade space for that, or else I’ll be spending my mental free time structuring Trello boards and writing Gmail filters. Such things can be rather addictive unless I tell myself that I hate them.

I know that when I have to go back to work, the night previous I will be a restless mess of reluctance. I will do something pathetic with my time, like watching cable television and playing solitaire on my iPad. I don’t know why, but I waste every moment that is my last, simultaneously berating myself for not doing something more valuable with what I still have.

At my core, I don’t want to work a goddamn day. I only want to write. And maybe that’s it, only my life’s passion won’t fill me with this mysterious dread. As I point my head towards something that isn’t my dream, my body recoils at the very thought of spending time on anything else. When I’m still foggy in the morning, and my sense of responsibility hasn’t set in, I struggle to talk myself into the reality that my heart hasn’t chosen.

But maybe, if I chose writing as my job, it would become just that. Maybe, I would learn to hate that too.

My friend Katie says I need to take more selfies, so here's a particularly festive one. Enjoy (what's left of) your holiday!

My friend Katie says I need to take more selfies, so here’s a particularly festive one. Enjoy (what’s left of) your holiday!