Hot Stuff has changed in many ways since we opened. Originally quiet, calm and focused, I watched as her ability zoom and run in circles would exhibit itself in stacks of cash and credit card slips as she would return to her computer and struggle with names, faces, drinks, beers. Her sharp reflexes turned into twitches and spasms, and her calm serene eyes became jagged bolts of lightning. She always brushed off my worried stares on her adderall, her hyperactivity, her OCD or her energy. I originally thought it was just cocaine, fitting the long periodic bathroom breaks that would make her shake. The accusations of others as drug users for ages I realized was just a deflection of her own faults onto others, to make her seem the angelic figure that D.A.R.E.’s to say “no!” to drugs, whether they be customers or employees.
She would drop her kid off at her parents, if she even had custody of her own daughter after a while, and then come to work, pounding shots at noon, meaning she’d be somewhat crazy by the time 6 rolled around and I rolled in. Her O.C.D. turned into a frenzied series of behaviors that just drove us nuts as we realized she lived in her own little world. She bragged about being the “bar manager” (we don’t have one…never have nor will) to customers, accused others of hurting her, of trying to get her fired, or essentially delusions of persecution to match the delusions of grandeur.
She was very pretty, until the end, until what made her beautiful disappeared and all that was left was a serpentine Medusa, striking out in a fit of psychotic rage to anyone within reach. She accused everyone working throughout the day as a thief and a liar, shrinking into a shell we couldn’t see away from the hurtful world. The day she snapped she was thrown out and forbidden to return. We could barely understand what she was saying to us, her speech jumbled and tossed together until she gave up on trying to communicate. She came by the next week to get her things (brought outside to her by a bouncer) and then she melted away into the night.
She’s an opener. She’s opened a lot of restaurants in her day because what makes her good and beautiful and strong at her job makes her an asset. Until the money gets good and the privileges get handed to her and then she goes crazy, slowly at first, more erratic and then insane. According to Momma Bear and Dawn, who both employed her for a year at the Coyote Ugly bar in town and at the Flashpan, Momma’s ex-nightclub.
She was pretty at first until I spotted her in the kitchen adjusting a tank-top and saw the sagging skin folding in on itself, tucked into her bra. I realized how much the weight had just melted off, how she never ate and how she could keep drinking and drinking and hold it together day after day even though the wear and tear was written across her face and body. Her eyes had deep rings around, I imagine it was days since she slept last. Her hair was thin and scraggly, hanging over pale skin. She was high as a kite that day on whatever she did. Within three days she slammed into her breaking point.
She was beautiful once, now she’s crazy. But she’s gone, and we all breathe deeply. Her shifts were absorbed by others in an hour and we’ve discussed and laid aside gossip over the situation. She let me into that wall she put up around the shell we couldn’t see built by her drugs, into her mind and somewhere in that I really found myself liking her. A lot. I count my blessings I didn’t try to dive in and save her. In the end I didn’t really know her at all.
So, to Hot Stuff, now a hot mess, I dedicate this song. “Howl” by Florence + the Machine. Love you, baby. Sorry I couldn’t save you, not sorry I didn’t try.