Monday, February 15, 2010

Life Is A Cabaret, My Friends

Yesterday was Valentine's Day, and aside from taking reservations for parties of two, we did nothing special at the restaurant. Still, the people came. Last year (as I was told repeatedly by disgruntled coworkers) we had a special meal of several courses with wine and dessert. Each couple's bill came to $100 and each table was a $20 tip for the server involved. It was like a $20 tip factory, and even if you only did twenty covers all night you walked with $200. This year my boss was not feeling the love, and we caught as catch could, and slung the food, and pushed the trout, and used a heavy hand to pour the wine. I was there from 10:30 AM till midnight.
Our restaurant has an attached, but separate bar where we pick up our drinks from the bartenders at night and make our drinks ourselves during the day. Day drinks are simple. I do not make anything that involves muddling, or elderflower liquor. I will not make a cosmopolitan or a kamikaze or anything named after a sex act or a baked dessert, but I will make a gin and tonic and I can tear up a bloody Mary. Even though it is extra work I like making the day drinks. The bar is empty and quiet and clean and the house lights are on. Almost everyday I have a quick fantasy about taking a nap back there. There are couches, though the reality of what sorts of bodily fluids that may be in those couches is enough to make my cheek itch, but I think I could possibly lay a tablecloth over the cushions and it would be more than fine.
Last night, in honor of Valentine's Day we had a "cabaresque" troupe perform in the bar and so during the day they wandered in and set up and did sound check and ate snacks and generally got in the way. With the house lights up in the empty bar they were just regular girls and awkward looking boys. The girls a little on the heavy side, the boys leaning toward gangle or muffin top respectively. I liked the ladies, with their thick thighs and dirty hair. One of them was a redhead with chewed fingernails. One of them was so dark she was almost blue and her red lipstick announced her face before you even had a chance to view her fabulous breasts. A boy with a wispy mustache wore a bowler hat. I worried about them a little. The people who frequent our bar are not very forgiving. They all come from money, they all look the same, they are all young and say judgmental things and end up puking in the hallway or weeping or fighting or peeing in inappropriate places. This is how the youth of the uppercrust act when they get fucked up. Classy.
I didn't have much time to worry, and for the most part I put them out of my mind- the fancy girls and the potential bar crowd both because in the early part of the day it is all about brunch. People seem to think that their mothers like to go to brunch. I don't think so. The coffee is never hot enough and the bacon is never crispy enough and they invariably get something sticky on their decorative sweaters. Everyone seems pissed off at brunch, I don't know why. I try to encourage ridiculous consumption at brunch, just to lighten the mood. Why not get chocolate chip pancakes as an appetizer? Why not substitute french toast for the bread on your bacon and egg sandwich? Let the child have red velvet cake for breakfast! Is it really so much worse than bananas foster croissant bread pudding? I will bring your son a trough of whipped cream, I don't care.
Brunch was a fuck-all circus and we had 45 minutes to clean up, change our shirts, light the candles, and set the mood for dinner, which we did. I looked like something that came out of the dryer, but I had never seen my fellow co-worker Raina look more beautiful.
It's a funny thing that happens when the management is disorganized and apathetic. The crew pulls together tighter. Each table was a nation of two and we were in our own little world, alongside them but not of them. Conversations between us cut off and picked up an hour later as if we never parted to refill drinks or carry food. One of us is getting married in a week. One of us broke up with his girlfriend a few days ago. One of us is sad because the boyfriend does not believe in Valentine's Day. One of us is wearing very unfortunate panties.
All of the couples who came in wear their relationships so nakedly on their faces that I could barely look at them. Boredom, anger, disappointment, lust, hope- somewhere in all of that there is love. The ladies put so much effort into their clothes and hair. Some of the men do alright, but I think they were mostly missing the point. Men- it is not about you. Suck it up. Be sweet, for one night. Not because it is Valentine's Day, but because your girl did her eyes for you, because she wore that dress for you, because her feet hurt in those shoes she wore for you, because her wrists and bosom are touched with hopeful scent for you. Because that girl is sweet on you and does silent secret things to make you feel good, to make you happy that you don't even notice but maybe you feel, give her one damn good night.
It all passed very quickly. The kitchen staff traded sushi for pizza. My favorite bartender slipped the waitstaff cocktails and told me one day we would run away together. I told my new favorite joke (What's the difference between a blond and a pair of glasses? A pair of glasses sits higher on your face.) and made the sous chef hug me when he went to push me because he thinks I'm pretty. We all got mad at the hostess, but I felt sorry for her because she is all alone and not a part of our fun. We ran out of napkins. The toilet flooded.
By midnight the magic happened and I had nothing to worry about. The bar was dim lit with candles and amber lights and the fancy girls were transformed into something otherworldly. They circulated in their feathers and jewels, corsets and fishnets and made the patrons look down and adjust their trousers. The awkward boys of the troupe snapped their suspenders and pushed out their chests and kept eyes on the hands of the crowd, mindful that the slap-ass didn't get too familiar. I left before the show went on, my show was over and I said thank you, and goodnight.
I came home and listened to Emiliana Torrini sing If You Go Away and it was not sad as it sometimes is. I caramelized onions and garlic for me. I cooked tomatoes with olives and red peppers. I made salad and cooked pasta and watched a movie, and at 2:00 AM I ate a brownie and went to sleep. I dreamed I saw an old friend in a yellow cab. He had a bouquet of flowers with a red plastic heart stuck in amongst the roses. He picked them out, because girls like hearts, and I knew that even though I only saw him through the window as he was driving away. I was happy because he was thinking of girls and flowers. Then I stopped dreaming. Then I slept forever. Then I woke up.


All This Trouble... said...

First, I read your last post. Then my husband rubbed lotion on my back. Then I asked what "motorboating tits" was all about. He looked sheepish and answered they need lotion just like my back. Then I had to tell him that you wrote about it, it wasn't what he'd done earlier. So, yeah...neither of us knew. So we googled it. THEN we knew! Haha!


I enjoy your stories so much. I'm usually so wrapped up in fashioning my own stories, I don't notice the other good ones around me. You have a gift that even I can recognize.

downtown guy said...

I wonder if I knew any of your fancy boys and girls. Were they from Rayn?

Ms. Moon said...

I could read your writing all day long and wish for more when the sun went down.
I swear I could.
This was a gorgeous picture of Valentine's Day. As gorgeous as you and that's saying a lot.

Sarcastic Bastard said...

May May,
I felt like I was right there with you. You paint a picture with your words. You are lovely.


Allegra Smith said...

Ah, the rich kids, the Trustaferians as we used to call them at the restaurant. There ought to be some invisible DNA that makes them all behave in the same ungodly way no matter in what side of the planet they are living.

Here is a Moonlight Kiss for you:
A shot of gin, 1 stirring spoon of Kirsch and 1 shot elderberry liqueur (St. Germain) - serve on the rocks. In the summer time with an orange blossom floating on top. Was one of my signatures at the restaurant. You can make it yours with my blessings.

As for your writing, you must send pieces like this to The New Yorker.
I mean it. Any respectable rag would be proud to publish you.

Bethany said...

I think she needs to send her writing to the New Yorker too. Not kidding. I don't SAY that to people, to anyone.
You astound and delight, always always. Lovely, true, funny, sweet, right on.

SJ said...

I agree with the New Yorker idea -I really do, May. I really don't tell people that either and if you don't, I might ;)

Petit fleur said...

Sad little rich kids... Sometimes I think most kids are sad. All they want is love and attention and recognition. For rich kids... they get money thrown at them instead of love, mid class kids have 2 working parents... as do many poor kids. There are much less fortunate kids when it comes to emotional stability.

But... The burlesque gig sounds fun! I didn't know we had one of those in town. I hope you made lots and lots of money. It actually sounds like you had a sweet V day. Mine was nothing but trouble!
Great post as always May.
love you,

Jo said...

Gorgeous, love the quiet ending. And the eight hours of sleep. Nmmm.

Rebecca said...

Amen Sister!!!! I so wish I had said this myself........Thanks for sharing!!!

"Men- it is not about you. Suck it up. Be sweet, for one night. Not because it is Valentine's Day, but because your girl did her eyes for you, because she wore that dress for you, because her feet hurt in those shoes she wore for you, because her wrists and bosom are touched with hopeful scent for you. Because that girl is sweet on you and does silent secret things to make you feel good, to make you happy that you don't even notice but maybe you feel, give her one damn good night."

Petit fleur said...

Oh... PS I meant to tell you, I have a postcard with that exact photo on it!!! I think it belongs to you now love. I have to find it though.

She is fun!

Elizabeth said...

Perfect picture of Valentine's Day. And it brought me back to my days as a waitress at The Slice of Life in Nashville, TN. There's a beauty and weirdness and perfection to that life that you've captured so perfectly. Thank you.

adrienne said...

'...that girl is sweet on you and does silent secret things to make you feel good, to make you happy that you don't even notice but maybe you feel...'

perfect and gorgeous.

deb said...

This was incredible.
And brought back serving memories, mostly horrid, but always interesting.
The owners had three places, a gourmet catering cafe spot, a bistro, and a bar and grill right next door, which was across the street from a strip club.

always drama, always interesting, and my poor feet.

take care,
enjoy your vacation,
and your writing is amazing.

nicol said...

Wow. Like mother like daughter in the creative writing department! I can see why she sent us all over. I really enjoyed reading this and a couple other posts I checked out.

Steph(anie) said...

The bit about couples wearing their relationships on their faces embarrassed me a little, knowing that I do the same.

Anonymous said...

More would do better in their relationships from listening to you.
Dr. Phil's word is a fart during your opera.

Danielle said...

gah..if you get any better i might just puke because i m so happy to read your work!!

Danielle said...

ps i cnat believe you know Emiliana Torrini and like her!!!!:-)

honeyluna said...

I wish I had known there was a show going on in that bar. I would have gotten my fake id (which is so fake it doesn't even exist) and had a hell of a night with the rich kids. Although, I probably would have been kicked out by the men in suspenders for slapping the ladies asses and motor-boating their voluptuous bosoms.

juancho said...

I meant to go to that, but I watched Matlock instead.

May said...

All This Trouble- What did we do before Google? It is so useful. Thank you for reading my stories, and for taking time away from your own to do so. You make such lovely words and art, it warms me up to see you over here.

DTG- It wouldn't surprise me if you knew them. I don't know if they are from Rayn, but I did serve one of their bartenders the other night. Some dude, nice guy, big tipper.

Mama- I'm so glad that we love each other's writing as much as we do. Yours sustains me. Even though I don't always comment I am everyday astounded by you. I love you so much.

SB- As always it is an honor when you stop by. I'm sorry I haven't been commenting so much over at Sarcastic Bastard lately. I haven't been spending much time computering. I adore you.

May said...

Allegra- Thank you, Lovely! I've written down the Moonlight Kiss and put it in my apron. I cannot wait to make it for some lucky customer. Who wouldn't like a Moonlight Kiss? And thank you so much for your support of my writing. I've never sent anything out, I don't really feel like any of this is interesting enough, but it makes me feel so good to read your comment that I should. Coming from you it really means a lot.

Bethany- You sweet girl! Thank you so much.

SJ- It's enough that our happy little blog family comes to read. Thanks, as always, sister mine.

Petit Fleur- Why was your V-day nothing but trouble? I need to get caught up on blog reading, that is just too intriguing. And yes, you are right about the rich kids, I pity them.

May said...

Jo- Thank you! I loved the quiet ending and all the sleep too. Ahh sleep, my favorite thing lately.

Rebecca- Thank you for stopping by! Do you have a man in your life that needs to be told that? Send 'im on over, I'll tell him what's what.

Elizabeth- Serving is such a funny little world, isn't it? I love when people who've had similar experiences read what I write, I feel like they get it. Thank you for stopping by.

Adrienne- You are perfect and gorgeous. Really.

May said...

Deb- Yes! It certainly is always interesting! Poor feet indeed. Thank you for your compliment! I'm glad you like my writing.

Nicole- I always love being compared to my Mama. She is simply the best, isn't she? Thank you for coming by.

Steph- Lovely Stephanie! I didn't mean that in a bad way. I like it when I can see how people are feeling. Those are true, honest people. It's the ones with a facade you have to watch out for. Don't ever be embarrassed by showing your emotions, I think it is a virtue.

Magnum- Yes. Well. Does Dr. Phil fart? Or does he phart? You honor me with your compliments, you charming bastard. You make me blush.

May said...

Danielle- I love that you love my writing. I am so happy when you comment! And what's funny is, when I wrote that about Emiliana Torrini, I somehow knew that you would know her music. Have you heard her version of that song? It is so beautiful.

HoneyLuna- If you had wanted to go to that you wouldn't have needed your fake fake ID. I would have gotten you in, no problem. And if you had started ass-slapping and motor boating tits? I think YOU would've gotten tipped!

Juancho- I am so pleased you stopped by! Matlock, hmmm? Well he is one sexy bastard, I have to give him that. But really, half naked girls, dancing, and musical comedy- isn't that what your life is like on the daily?

Mwa said...

I like that you made yourself gorgeous food in the middle of the night. That is so right!

オテモヤン said...


Anonymous said...

what she is saying (comment above) is that she loves your post, and has a truck, and will thus, help you move (rough translation)