During my senior year of college, I got a bartending job at Red Line, a bar in Harvard Square that had replaced the much-storied Crimson Sports Grille. (The Grille had been shut down in the wake of years of very accurate allegations that freshmen were routinely being let in with the very most pathetic of fake IDs; as an indicator of how closely they were examining the photos at the door, my own ID was a hand-me-down from the older sister of a friend. Who was Korean.) Red Line was struggling a little to match the Grille’s popularity, and I was hired to promote and host a weekly Senior Night, which mostly meant serving a lot of Black & Tans and Kamikaze shots to extremely drunk classmates. Which was pretty fun, actually.
Now, Red Line was more of a Cobb salads-and-martinis-type place, but I’ve always been a dive bar girl; I like my beer completely uninteresting-tasting and hovering somewhere around the three-dollar mark. The place where I got my first bartending job, Hogs ‘n’ Heifers (the bar that the movie Coyote Ugly was based on, and yes I did dance around in cowboy boots, light the bar on fire, and yell song lyrics over a megaphone), was much more my speed. My “work uniform” consisted of things like cowboy boots, fringed leather, and denim cutoffs. At Red Line, it was black slacks and a black tee. No megaphone, alas.
But I couldn’t resist bringing one little memento from my biker bar days: my red bandanna. When I worked at Hogs ‘n’ Heifers I had an enormous collection of red bandannas and kept one tucked into my back pocket at all times, using it for everything: wiping off my hands after a too-enthusiastic pour, tying my hair back when my elastic broke, patching up my jeans when they grew one too many holes. In all the bartending jobs I held in the years that followed – I worked everywhere from a tapas restaurant in the Valley to a pizza place in West Hollywood to a swanky club in Hell’s Kitchen – I wore lots and lots of different things to work…but always, always carried my bandanna. To this day, whenever I upend a milk carton or spill a little water on my kitchen countertop, I sometimes find myself reaching towards my back pocket.
I kind of miss it.
And so the other day, when I stopped into Forever 21 and saw my red bandanna sitting right there on a mannequin (albeit transformed into a sheer button-down vest)…I had to buy it. What can I say? Me and my bandanna have had some good times together, and sometimes it’s nice to have souvenirs from crazy days gone past hanging around, just to remind you where you’ve been.
I’m still that same dive-bar girl, you see. That leather and denim that I used to love is still right there in my closet.
It just has fewer holes these days, that’s all.
On me: Black Rivet Asymmetrical Zip Leather Scuba Jacket via Wilsons Leather; jeans and white tee via TJ Maxx, Forever 21 vest, Aldo wedges, J. Crew socks, Foley & Corinna Woven Circle Tote, IPPOLITA necklace, Kyler by Joy O. earrings, GANT sunglasses, Clinique Almost Lipstick in Luscious Honey.