Confessions of a Laid-off Lawyer

Just Your Average Joe Blogging Away His Debt—In One Year or Less


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Total Black: $948.31
Total Red: $230,715.35

Today I had my first experience working for tips.  No, not atop a bar somewhere in Chelsea.  I worked coat check today at the theatre.  Given that it was the day after Christmas, and that I worked it from roughly 6pm until 11pm, I made about fifty dollars.  Not bad for a first time, I figured.  Here’s the catch though.  I ended up spending it all going out later that night.  So my question: what can tip money count as?  We don’t earn a reduced wage for shifts that may include tips.  So, I can just cut myself a break and dismiss it as just money I didn’t have four hours earlier and thus pretend that I worked some other shift where I wouldn’t have earned tips.  Or I can kick myself for having blown that money on booze.

Here’s the story.  After work, a few of the ushers were hanging out in the Time Out New York Lounge, a bar located in the theatre space and sponsored by the magazine of the same name.  They were talking about going out for drinks and heading to a club and asked me if I wanted to go with them.  The last time I hung out with people in a bar or a club, not counting this lounge where people tend to just gather for a drink or two after work, was the night of my drunken debacle, chronicled in A Day Without a Post.  That was back in October.  Another element to this story is that I have no friends in this city.  At least none around my age who’d want to go out dancing or to clubs.  Any that I had have since moved to other states, or even other countries.  No one calls to ask me to meet up at a club or a bar.  I don’t have a group that I go out with.  So when they asked, there really wasn’t an option that I would have said no.

And we had a blast.  There’s a club on West 57th Street in Manhattan that has a gay night on Saturdays.  It’s laughable that bars in New York City have “gay nights.”  That’s something I experienced in smaller towns across the country.  Not in the largest city in this country.  But gay dance clubs are a rare find in the city because, as explained by Tricia Romano in a November 2002 Village Voice article “The Safety Dance: You Can’t Dance If You Want To,” former Mayor Rudy Giuliani enforced cabaret licenses granted to establishments that can serve liquor and allow dancing.  The connection between dance, alcohol, and gay culture is well documented.  So that needn’t be articulated here.  Giuliani killed off much of gay culture, effectively if not outright.  There are plenty of bars—don’t get me wrong.  But it’s not the same as a dance club.  And this dance club we were at was unlike any I’ve been to in New York.  The music rocked.  The people were friendly and flirtatious.  I’m cautious of my alcohol intake now because of the medical experiment and what happened in that drunken debacle I spoke of.  But that said, I was about three sheets to the wind.  And once the go-go boys moved on (personally I find them annoying because they’re typically straight), the five of us hopped up on the stage area of the basement dance floor and seemingly took over the room.  At least in our minds, I suppose.  I found myself moving in ways I haven’t in years.  At one point I was playfully flirting with the only woman in our bunch, on my knees, biting the fly flap of her jeans.  It was all in good fun.  I guess I must have really just relaxed finally and let myself go a bit.  Released some of the stress and worries because at some point, though I don’t recall how we met, I found myself staring into the eyes of this Adonis who I was making out with in the club.  The last time that happened must have been in 2004 just after law school exams.  In my experience gay guys in New York don’t really flirt much in bars any longer.  Or only after they’re sloppily drunk, perhaps.  On the walk back home, I even drunk texted a coworker from the theatre.  We went back and forth, flirting a bit via text message.  I must confess to carrying a small torch for him.  But he only seems to reciprocate when intoxicated.  Apparently we made out as well because he complimented me on my abilities.

I’m grateful for this night for too many reasons.  Human beings need to create opportunities for jollification.  Every culture that’s walked this earth has created spaces for revelry and set aside time to engage our bacchanalian urges.  But what I’m more grateful for was the chance to hang out with people and just have people to go out with.  I don’t mean to paint my life in such broad strokes that the image surfaces of me as some fat, smelly old troll with no social life.  Just me and my cats.  Clearly that’s not the case.  People enjoy my company and I’m fairly adept at working a room, both evidenced by me tending to land most jobs I apply for and by people include me in their plans.  But making friends and meeting people in New York to hang out with is complicated, so I’m happy I met these great people.  And happy that they invited me out.

Yet I’m still left with this nagging question: should I have spent my tips to go out?  On buying drinks and checking my own coat at this club?  On taxis to the club?  Somehow I got in without paying the cover charge, so that was a blessing since it cost twenty dollars.  Technically the tips are money I didn’t have prior to that night, right?  So I can’t really scold myself for spending what I didn’t have to start with.  But you can say that about a paycheck.  About a loan.  Money comes in.  Period.  And what we do with it afterward determines how fiscally responsible we are.  I’m not trying to beat myself up here and I don’t mean to imply that I feel guilty about going out.  I don’t.  But part of this project is getting my thoughts down on this electronic paper and then exposing them to the world.  Then both I and any followers (mostly the followers) find flaws in my analysis or contradictions with prior entries and point that out.

Or should I just cut myself a break because it is still the holidays after all?  When better to get a bit jolly.

Written by Laid-off Lawyer

December 26, 2009 at 23:11

One Response

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  1. My vote is for chalking it up as mental health cost and enjoying your (fuzzy) memories of a fun night out 🙂 Happy New Year!


    January 1, 2010 at 12:49

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