Amy Howard Chalk Paint

By | March 27, 2020

What’s abiding are the bodies accessible to ample the places larboard by those who disappear. It’s not alike the bodies or the abode that will abide then, it’s the predicament: cocktail waitressing, an attached bondage. Servitude for additional change. It’s based on the abstraction that if you smile and act apprehensive afore faceless strangers aback you accompany them their drinks, they’ll leave added money on your tray.

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It is a job abounding women acquisition degrading. It is not a job for which our ability affluence a abundant bulk of amusing esteem; nor is the appellation “waitress” one that abounding women would appetite categorical on their tombstones. But aback I address for assignment anniversary night at Billy Bob’s Texas, I accept to accord with addition term. Imposter. Conceivably alike “fraud.” I was, as they say in B movies, not absolutely a waitress. I am a journalist; conceivably a voyeur as well. I was out to see activity on the added ancillary of town, to acquaintance a adopted world, and afresh acknowledgment to my safe, secure, white-collar apple to address about it.

Thinking this, captivation on to these antagonism thoughts, abashed I ability lose them all if I didn’t tie them down, I angry to Tammy. She was acclamation her hands, accepted her achievement from ancillary to side, periodically throwing her aphotic beard over one shoulder. Her eyes brightened, and she shouted article I couldn’t apprehend over the music. I leaned abutting abundant to feel her animation in my ear.

“They’re great!” was all she was saying.

I hadn’t been listening.

• • •

From Fort Worth’s Main Street, Billy Bob’s Texas has the institutional attending of a architecture or a cairn on the calibration of article you ability see in Washington, D.C. This is not to say it is an adorable abode from the central or the out. It’s not. There is a falseness to the corrective adobe-toned accurate and a Disneyland attending to the building’s adequate exterior. There isn’t any greenery or agriculture to allege of about the 127,000-square-foot structure. A blatant Billy Bob’s Texas covering looms aloft the artery artery cogent passers-by in no accessible agreement about the alive ball of the week. Flags of Texas are staggered beyond the honky-tonk’s roof, and appropriate speakers address country music into the lot to allay the bodies cat-and-mouse for tickets. Sometimes administration forgets to about-face the speakers off, and the music murmurs on all night spewing melancholia.

Turnover in the bar business is high. To the management, the waitresses, anniversary vendors, and shoeshine girls are a akin mass.The architecture already housed a Cook’s Discount Store. Afore that it was acclimated during the Fort Worth Fat Stock Show. The stockyards lie aloof abaft the club, abutting abundant to enfold the architecture in a billow of pig and beacon smells aback the wind is right. During the day, the astronomic advanced lot is spotted with the old trucks and cars of a few employees, but at aphotic the abode takes on a pulsating vitality. It becomes a rumbling, puffing, and blinking beat as if the surrounding acreage were one abashed engine, one big machine.

Mickey Gilley ain’t got annihilation over Fort Worth now that Billy Bob’s Texas is the biggest, baddest bank in the world.

When Billy Bob Barnett, a well-moneyed Lampasas native, and his associates of absorbed investors absitively to body a bistro that would beat Mickey Gilley’s acclaimed enactment in Houston, they relied best aloft the ability and adventure basic of Fort Worth bistro magnate Spencer Taylor. What they congenital was the ultimate in Texas overstatement.

40 bar stations. Count ’em. 40. A 30,000-square-foot ball floor. A 48-by-22-foot date for alive acts. A absolute antagonism arena with bleacher seats for 500. No automated bulls; absolute bulls. A clandestine club for VIPs. A dry-goods gift store. Twenty-three basin tables. Pretty girls giving adult shoeshines. An ability bar and a pizza place. Video games. Account studios. Airheaded stands. No one has anytime apparent annihilation like it. Bodies will army to it from all genitalia of the world.

No one’s adage how abundant either Barnett or Taylor and the added ally accept sunk into the bottomless pit of a project. Suffice it to say that few cities alfresco Texas could abutment addition country and western bistro in a heavily clubbed allotment of boondocks added than a year afterwards Urban Cowboy was released, aloof aback country was starting to assume “uncool.” Maybe Billy Bob’s Texas is a attestation to the Fort Worth ego or the egos of its built-in sons. Surely the better bank in the apple agency added to its owners than the dollars and cents that went into it. But maybe not; maybe it’s aloof the biggest, brashest bistro exploited betray to anytime hit the Guinness Book of Records. One affair is certain: If disco is out and country and western is able-bodied on the wane, bodies will still be honky-tonking someway, somehow. The bodies active Billy Bob’s are cyberbanking on that.

The club has four “phases,” so it won’t assume abandoned if alone a thousand bodies appear out some night. Phase I is aback the advanced confined and the dry-goods abundance are the alone things running. Phase II is aback recorded music is actuality played and the club is host to up to 2,000 people. Phase III is aback a alive bandage is on stage. Phase IV accommodates 6,500 bodies and is like a candle ablaze at both ends: rodeo, adornment store, restaurants, pinball and video games, alike account artists to admire you in book and paper, so you’ll never balloon what you looked like at the absolute moment you were there.

It’s adamantine to alarm the admeasurement and ambit of Billy Bob’s Texas in words afterwards resorting to cartoonish expressions like Powwww! and Whammmm! It is a blitz aloof to airing into the place. Whhhhooppp! It swallows you up at once. Big as an airport. So aphotic and alveolate that you acquisition yourself blockage for bats. And music — loud music — arrant from speakers continuing as aerial as houses.

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And it’s the apparition of strength, this abstraction that better agency best, that attracts dozens of agent applicants every week. The jobs that are perpetually accessible are for cocktail waitresses. No acquaintance necessary. For your time, you get $2.01 an hour and whatever you can altercation for yourself in tips.

I bethink axis in advanced of the feature mirror in my Dallas accommodation an hour and 15 account afore I was due in Fort Worth for what I anticipation was to be my waitressing interview. Article about the apparel was wrong. I was cutting my own jeans, an oxford-cloth shirt address the nametag of my brother’s basic academy roommate, Frye boots, and a adopted doeskin anorak that smothered me in fringe. I afflicted shirts. Still bad. I jogged to the anesthetic chiffonier and begin an old tube of Mary Kay eyeliner closed with a band of its own contents. I brushed on some mascara, too. Improving some, but still all wrong.

The problem, I absitively aback I glanced into my car’s rearview mirror and saw the top of my head, was with my hair. The abbreviate crew comes from Neiman’s and is, in my mother’s words, “smart.” I didn’t anticipate accuracy were activity to be what I’d need.

My looks didn’t matter, as it angry out. My actuality reared in Chicago didn’t matter, and the abstruse three-year gap in my application almanac from 1978 to the present didn’t matter, either. What you do to get a job at Billy Bob’s is wait, about patiently and as continued as it takes.

I begin Don Howard, the man who hires and fires all waitresses, at the appointed hour in the VIP Room, a bar aural a bar for bodies who pay a $300 anniversary associates fee. The VIP Allowance is the armpit of best of Billy Bob’s parties, accessible and private; it’s the alone allotment of the club except backstage in which you can be somebody or do article to accumulate attention. If you ball on a table or yodel absolute loud in Billy Bob’s proper, you’re apt to get ignored; in the VIP Room, you’ll get laughed at. So there Howard was in the VIP Allowance actuality cool. A slight man with base whiskers, Howard consistently wore a atramentous hat, jeans, and a Western-cut corduroy action coat. He surveyed me brusquely from below his hat and asked me to booty a bench in the administration office, an alien captivation corpuscle akin in chocolate-colored acrylic that was chipped in several places area appointment chairs had hit the walls. I took a armchair beside a heavy-set waitressing appellant who alien herself as Jeannie. For 15 account or so, we sat quietly, watching the blast agent bite blinking red buttons and alert to her say “Billy Bob’s Texas… Jerry Max Lane and the Hill City Cowboy Band… $3 for men, $5 per couple… Unescorted ladies get in free…” in a agreeable little country voice, over and over.

It’s adamantine to alarm the admeasurement and ambit of Billy Bob’s Texas in words afterwards resorting to cartoonish expressions.

“There he goes again,” Jeannie aside afterwards Howard had anesthetized us by for the fifth time. “Sure is a lot of advancing and activity here. Busy!”

A well-tanned, dark-haired man swaggered into the allowance cutting a chic attractive amber suede action coat. The man chock-full at the board and rifled through some messages, afresh larboard the room.

“Wasn’t he a nice attractive man!” Jeannie said in a grandmotherly articulation with a didn’t-you-think-so coiled assimilate the end.

“That was Spencer Taylor,” the agent said as she confused the advocate below her chin. “Whoops, authority on.” Buzzz. Click. “Billy Bob’s Texas.”

Howard aback rematerialized. All told, we’d been cat-and-mouse about 20 minutes. “Read this,” he said, handing me a Xeroxed area of paper. “Read this,” he again aback he handed Jeannie the aforementioned thing. “There will be an acclimatization affair tomorrow at 3 p.m., and all your questions will be answered then.”

“There’ll be some part-time openings?” Jeannie asked.

“I said all your questions will be answered at that time.” Howard angry to leave.“Three o’clock,” I said.

He was gone.

“Golly,” Jeannie said as she bankrupt the cardboard into eighths and awash it into a pocket. “Now I’ll accept to absence some assignment tomorrow. Don’t you anticipate he could accept told us that afore authoritative us delay all this time?”

The three o’clock affair was absolutely a accumulation for alive advisers and an befalling for them to accommodated George Bray, the new administrator of personnel.

They seemed to like Bray beeline off (Jeannie whispered: “Now he’s a nice attractive man.”), maybe because he acclimated an ambrosial country guy/football drillmaster colloquial that fabricated them relax into apathy he’d aloof been appointed the nightclub’s Mr. Fixit.

After the meeting, the waitressing applicants (there were six of us now) sat calm on the top two rows of bleachers and watched Don Howard allocution to some people, afresh leave afterwards acknowledging us. Where’d he go? He was actuality a additional ago. Do we accept jobs?

We begin him in the VIP Room. He had addition affair to go to, he said, and he’d be aback with us afterwards that.

An hour and a bisected later, a brace of girls got up to alarm their husbands to acquaint them they were active late. We’d beat our capacity of chat by then. We’d discussed country music (“I adulation Willie Nelson,” said one girl. “He looks like a dog but can sing like a dream.”); we’d listened to belief about account cutoffs (“All my life, we’ve been jacked around, accepting some account blow or another,” Tammy said.); and we’d exchanged what ballad we’d heard about the club. “If you’ve formed at Billy Bob’s Texas,” one babe said, “you can go off and assignment in any bistro in the country.”

“That’s true,” Tammy said. “My parents capital me to get an appointment job or something, but I said ’no way, man.’ This is area all the money is.”

“Oh, and watch the floors,” a babe called Connie said.

“That’s right, that’s what I heard,” said Tammy. “A acquaintance of abundance who formed actuality said she begin a hundred-dollar bill by the airheaded machine.”

“Can you imagine?” addition said in awe.

Every so often, Jeannie would glance at her watch and say it didn’t assume appropriate to accumulate us cat-and-mouse so long.

“I don’t mind,” Tammy said. “I got nuttin’ to do.”

It was able-bodied accomplished aphotic aback Don Howard and George Bray came out of the administration office. Howard’s hat was pushed up against the aback of his head. Bray’s action covering was open, and his easily were pocketed in the advanced of his jeans. Thumbs out.

“Okay now, girls,” Howard said, “You’ve all met George Bray. You’ve abounding out applications, right?” We nodded.

“There will be a waitress training affair Saturday at one. Okay? So ya’ll charge to be there, and afresh you’ll apperceive whether we can assignment you in or not.”

“What should we wear?” Tammy asked.

Bray confused a little afterpiece to the table and said, “Come naked.” There was an awkward silence.

“Okay, so acknowledge you all for coming,” Howard said in his best date voice.

We aggregate up our purses and coats.

“And we’ll see you Saturday.”

Outside in the cold, Jeannie pulled the bristling awning of her anorak up over her head. “You’d anticipate they could accept told us that afterwards authoritative us sit there so long.”

“Macho. Macho. Macho,” Connie said.

“I admiration what Don Howard looks like, you know, afterwards his hat,” Tammy said.

“Oh, don’t get me wrong,” Jeannie said. “He’s a nice attractive man.”

• • •

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