I sidestepped the sommelier and slipped into the circle that my friends had formed by the bar, ducking out of sight.
“There you are, Megs!” Heron patted me on the shoulder in a halfhearted hug, using her free hand. Her other hand clutched a martini.
“Don’t you want to try the wine?” I asked, surprised. This restaurant, RN74, was known for its extensive wine list, with bottles ranging from $30 to $12,000. “I know it’s not complimentary like I told everybody” – I raised an eyebrow and rolled my eyes snobbishly – “but five dollars is a great deal at a place like this.” RN74 had marked its vino way down for the Bastille Day celebration.
Heron shrugged blankly and stuck her lips back onto her martini glass, sipping her vodka delicately. I wish I looked like that when I drank vodka. As a rule, I don’t order anything that comes in a martini glass, because martini glasses are too hard to hold steadily. Without fail, before my triangle-shaped tumbler is half empty, I dribble all over myself. So I stick to white wine (red turns my mouth purple) and vodka-sodas.
“How was your day?” Maijken asked. She’s always so genuine when inquiring about my workdays. It's refreshing.
“Well, you said the food and drinks were complimentary, so I told every single resident that this thing was free, and now they’re all yelling at me in French.” I rolled my eyes again to dramatize my irritation. Maijken worked in the building’s sales office and had asked me to spread the word about this party. As aggravated guests approached me throughout the evening, I pointed them in her direction.
On top of all this, I could literally see my desk from where I was standing. Every wall in the building is glass, so from the ground-floor atrium all I have to do is look up to see my lounge. My workspace. My computer, even.
Hey, why aren’t those chairs pushed together by the window? And why is the TV set to ESPN instead of CNN? Doesn’t the night crew know the TV should always be set to CNN unless the anchors are covering some sort of real estate crisis? Is my desk lamp still on?
This wasn’t exactly the relaxing after-work escape I’d imagined.
“More wine, please?” I waived my plastic cup in the air, signaling the familiar bartender. He sometimes worked at the bar in my Club Level lounge, serving our owners.
“Of course, mademoiselle,” he teased while handing me an even larger plastic cup and filling it to the brim. I smiled and took a sip, and he topped me off again. The bartender brought over another bottle, and my friends shoved their cups to the center of the circle robotically, waiting for him to fill them up. Before our cups were a quarter empty, he came around again. And again. And again.
“Let’s get some dinner!” I exclaimed an hour later. It’s amazing what a cup of wine will do for your mood. (Does it still count as one cup when it's topped off every ten minutes? My glass was never empty!)
“Yeah! Let’s!” we made our way to the hostess and proceeded to eat a very expensive dinner – on our boss. He must have been as sloshed as we were. The food was elaborate and delightful, and just what we needed after a long day.