Regular customers are a funny thing. Each restaurant feels protective over their own, even the obnoxious ones. They become a part of the culture and are the wards of the bartenders and waiters who serve them. Sometimes regulars are people who seek companionship they miss in other areas of their lives. Other times, they are people who enjoy the company of familiar faces while they slough off the cares of the day. Yesterday’s post reminded me of someone I knew when I was brand new to the city; a regular from my pub girl days.
Linda was the worst cross-dresser I’ve ever seen. She had the physique and grace of a linebacker. Donning a feathered, mouse-brown wig, she had the make-up of a retired school marm and the ill-fitting polyester power suits of thirty years ago. Other than her look, she made no attempt to hide her masculinity.
Linda would come in every Saturday around nine PM and stay well past midnight. Always equal parts gruff and saucy, she would occupy a small corner table, sipping whiskey on the rocks and taking in the scene. At this Irish Pub, no one was too strange for the room. Men would nod respectfully as she made her way to her spot. My favorite part about her is that two or three drinks in she’d take her waitress’ hand in her own larger one, stroke it softly, and start hitting on her. One never knew exactly how to respond, especially because, though Linda was very nice, she was a terrible tipper.
Rumor had it that Linda and five or six other guys who all lived in New Jersey rented a small apartment together in Manhattan where they kept all of their feminine finery so that their wives wouldn’t find out. Kind of like Batman, but in one inch heels.
I’ve had plenty of regulars since leaving Linda in the Village, but I always wonder about her. She was someone who inspired more questions than answers. Did her wife ever find out about her double life? What inspired her to cross-dress? Where did she find shoes in her size? Wherever she is now, I hope the whiskies on the rocks are flowing and the girls are pretty.