Bartender for the Aughts

The following article was originally written for Turner Broadcasting (2009), and is posted here as a writing sample.

Bartender for the Aughts

Not so very long ago, a young man sat perched atop a craggy vinyl stool, pouring his broken heart out to the neighborhood bartender whilst pouring whiskey down his throat. Not so very far away, a young lady sat beneath a Lady Sunbeam hair dryer, dishing all about her boyfriend’s bedroom burn-up and her BFF’s affair with the boss. Bartenders and hairdressers were veritable vaults of a most valuable commodity: information. The good ones kept their traps shut.

I am the Bartender for the aughts, the Hairdresser of the digital age: I am a Pilates Trainer. My career started simply, as a quest to forge steel cores and open closed joints. Ten years on, it has grown into something quite unexpected and risqué, rather like a tea party-turned-Celebutante Ball. Pilates, it seems, opens more than ball-and-socket joints; it has the power to open hearts and minds like Sesame. Breathing (posterior-laterally, of course) with one’s feet in fuzzy straps eventually uncorks even the most well-bottled practitioner. Secrets are oft whispered to me before their rightful conferee. Skeletons, de-closeted, are passed down like battered third-gen Goyard steamer trunks.

This being Los Angeles, I’ve no doubt some of these hand-me-down bones could easily attract the Paparazzi vultures. I, however, am a good one and TMJ is a small price to pay for such open-hearted confession. Perhaps my position is really that of the post-modern Priest: a Therapist. In times of yore, we looked to religious officials for guidance and cochlear compassion; since Freud, we confide from the couch.

Though I am certified to realign a spine, I am in no way qualified to address the multitude of imbalances caused by a marriage/affair/divorce/burial/cancelled show. Yet, day after day, it is my advice clients seek: to call or not to call, whether ’tis nobler to suffer the slings and arrows of a tumultuous marriage or take up arms in the form of an expensive Beverly Hills lawyer, to quit: perchance to get a better network deal (ay, there’s the rub).

I give counsel as best I can, honored by the invite to such private parties. In the best of times, clients turn comrade and Pilates is quickly abandoned for cocktails. In the worst, I am left to ponder my own philosophical question: if I am an (unlicensed) Therapist in practice, am I insolent enough of office to double my rates?