After Dakota’s Sweet Sixteen

After the pre-event meeting when we get the schedule and guest list. After Jay, the MC, and his on-staff dancers, Stephanie and Val, glitter up…

After the argument between security and the father of a boy who got caught with a pocket knife at pat-down…

After Dakota’s uncle stares too long at me, smiling. After he spills his sixth drink on his lap while his forgotten wife throws her hands into the air…

After a bacon wrapped shrimp is found in the aquarium…

After the first slow dance, when Dakota sits alone. After security catches her younger sister with bags of liquor taped to her leg…

After the video plays on the theater screen of various celebrities wishing Dakota a very happy birthday. After we wonder what the fuck Dakota’s parents do for a living…

After the guest at table seventeen sends his food back for the third time. Long after the chef, Terri, spits in it, muttering fuck the rich

After Christa, the owner, catches me sneaking out for a cigarette with Val, while Dakota unwraps boxes and tries to remember to read the cards before she counts the money…

After the parents stumble to cars to drive home drunk, swearing at the receptionist who offers complimentary cars for anyone who needs them…

…We drink their champagne – there are always bottles left unopened – and eat their forgotten food. Christa calls them our tips and doesn’t seem to understand why we never find her funny. No one tells her that Terri always over-orders on purpose.

We have our fill of filet we can only afford to plate but never to purchase. We turn on the music. Christa’s husband sometimes dances with us, though never when she’s around.

When both owners are gone, Val grabs poppers from her purse. Staff bags are never searched – the only advantage to being the server and not the served.

Jay smells my hair while we dance, and I wonder if he’d be good at choking me. He presses himself against me, hard, and I laugh to myself as soon as I feel him. I turn and shake my head, “there’s just no way that’s fitting in me.” 

I continue my goth-two-step dance (the only dance I know), and Jay laughs and promises to go slow if I let him try. I think about it.

Over two hours, we disappear, one by one, usually without much of a goodbye. We’ll see each other next weekend, or tomorrow night, or for the unluckiest of souls, in the morning to prepare for a corporate event. But we’ll see each other around.


Robin Sinclair (they/them) is a queer, trans writer of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Robin’s serious work discusses themes of gender, identity, and mental illness. Robin’s not so serious work discusses themes of drinking too much and butt stuff. Find Robin at RobinSinclairBooks.com and on Twitter at @Ghost_Of_Mary.

Categories: Fiction

Daily Drunk

Shawn Berman runs The Daily Drunk. You can follow him on Twitter @Sbb_writer.

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