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.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

She Works Hard For the Money

I'm not feeling well, chickies. I'm on day three of an eight day stretch at work and already my arches ache and my toes burn, and I feel like I'm coming down with something. Nothing too bad, I can't hear and my face hurts, but as far as colds go- this ain't nothing. The girls (my wee pretty sisters) and I went and cashed in our Christmas mani/pedi gift cards today (Thanks, Mama!) so the feet are slightly more attractive and feel a little better. I love a pedicure. I always feel like an ugly man going to a whore when I go get one, because generally my feet are just those things I bang the ground with, but the ladies there touch them gently with their very own hands and speak softly in Vietnamese.
Soon I will be flying all the way across the country to visit my best friend who is not related to me by blood, and the thought of that is enough to get me to straighten my weary shoulders and put my squash blossom nose to the grindstone. A week off on hourly wage is a quarter of my monthly gone, but a week to see his face again and find my girl side and serve no man- I'll work every minute till then for that and grin like a gator while I do it.
Normally when I get sick I reach for the comfort foods, those foods that have a maximum of salt, fat, and sugar per gram of white flour (and if you know me you know this is not how I eat). Yes the macaroni and cheese, yes the cereal and milk, yes and yes again to the m&ms mixed in a bowl with roasted nuts and mini bagel chips! Cookies! Butter! Buttered cookies I shit you not, somehow it's all good when one is puny and there is a weight on the chest. I have no time for delicious excesses now, I have shifts to work. Eight days on, two days off, a double, a shift, a double on Valentine's Day. Ahem. A VD double. Son. of. a. bitch.
So soup is simmering, like it should. It has pumpkin, carrots, celery, onions, oh so much garlic, roasted tomatoes, red bell peppers (no, I won't be making this soup for you, H.) that I charred my own damn self over the gas burner, and sweet white beans. This soup may very well save my life. I hope I like it, I made enough for seven brides and seven brothers. Wish me luck and big tips, my friends. When all this is done I'll sleep like the dead.

Last week a customer slapped me on the ass and motor boated my tits. I think that deserves more than 20%, don't you?