Friday, January 31
this is the tale of my sister's recent birthday bash and how i survived it
so here goes..
If you’ve ever met my sister, you’d know why it made perfect sense to me that her 40th birthday would fall on Friday the 13th.
It’s not that I was worried about the superstition of the 13th (this is not exactly a Jewish thing after all) but I also wasn’t surprised when it started raining early that evening and the rain turned into a full-scale thunderstorm by the time we hit the road.
We, by the way, consisted of me and my Ecuadorian driver Peter. Peter works for the wholesale fish company I use for my catering business. When the local car service told me it would be $90 bucks each way, plus toll, tip and $90 bucks an hour for waiting, I called up Peter and hired him and the fish van to drive me to my sister’s birthday bash.
As we headed out to the interstate in search of this far off place called Keansburg New Jersey I wondered, how bad could a long ride in a fish van be?
Between the rain, the Friday night rush hour traffic and the fact that Peter, as it turned out, has a terrible fear of changing lanes in the rain, our one-hour drive took a little under three hours.
That’s a long way to go when you can’t inhale through your nose.
A ride in a fish delivery van is probably the closest I will come, (hopefully) to rolling in a bed of rotting salmon. For most of the ride I fought an overwhelming urge to cover my entire body in lemon juice.
“What’s your sister like?” Peter asked trying to make conversation so I wouldn’t notice that he’d passed up yet another chance for me to go the bathroom because he was afraid to change lanes.
“She has a weak bladder like me!” I answered glaring at him.
“Oh, oh, sorry…there was a car coming. I saw it’s lights!”
“Those were the damn lights from the McDonald’s you drove past Peterrrrrrr!”
We were practically there, when I finally grabbed the wheel and forced Peter to turn into a fried chicken joint. There was a little girl walking towards the bathroom. I literally jumped in front of her.
“Sorry kid but this is bigger than you.”
Back on the road, I decided to warn Peter about the party that not only was he driving me too, but that I’d decided he was going to attend as well. I told myself it was to be kind to him. Why make him go all that way and then sit outside? But the truth was I wanted the protection. One never knew what could happen at a party my sister might throw.
I tried to explain the situation in the most diplomatic way possible.
“My sister is nuts.”
“No I mean she’s really wacked. She may dance on the table or try to die your hair. Trust me she’s way out there.”
Peter is one of the few people I’ve met who has managed to get thru his entire life, completely un-affected by everything around him. He’s semi-homeless at the moment and rents half a bedroom in Spanish Harlem for 80 bucks a week.
“Better than the street. A lot of people I know are on the street,” he says smiling.
He drives the fish fan from 6 AM: until 2:00 in the afternoon hauling hundreds of pounds of raw fish without a break and is paid a rate only slightly higher than minimum wage.
“At least I’m working. Lotta people I know don’t have a job,” he says smiling.
He’s always smiling.
When we finally pulled off 35 and into Keansburg, I felt like we’d driven into Coney Island after a nuclear war. There were roller coasters and water slides, all kinds of kiddy rides, but everything was dark. There wasn’t a person or a light on the strip. I guessed things closed up here by fall. By December, it felt like we were driving into a Clint Eastwood movie.
I kept expecting some lone troublemaker to step out in front of us.
“Go ahead make my day.”
A police car in front of us slowed down. Forcing us to slow down. He seemed to be looking at us in his rear view mirror. Then he turned off and another police car pulled up in front of us. He drove slowly for a while checking us out too, then he pulled off, as if to say, “We’re watching you.”
I guessed they didn’t get a lot of big blue vans with New York license plates driving thru town.
I knew we found the right place when we pulled up to a house filled with the kind of birthday decorations you might hang for a 5 year old’s party.
My sister has always had a little girl’s sense of esthetic. To this day, she sends me tiny stuffed animals on any occasion requiring a gift.
I could see her in the window. One could not mistake my sister even from a distance; pineapple blonde hair, tight jeans, fuchsia blush, pink frost lipstick and there was her signature manic energy. She ran about nervously hanging streamers and taping balloons to the walls.
She seemed smaller than I remembered.
Sis was relieved to see me when I walked in. Half her guests had canceled when it started to rain and they lived locally. She was fairly convinced I wouldn’t brave the weather all the way from Manhattan.
“Helloooo Sisssssssssssss!” she hissed at me like a snake.
I thought I caught a touch of sadness in her eyes, but then she quickly adjusted her mood to full scale party girl, turned to her friends and screamed, “Hey dudes…this is my sister! Doody! You’re just in time to give these balloons a blow job!”
My sister, by the way, calls me Doo, short for Doody. Let’s not get into that.
“ Um. This is Peter.”
“Hellooo Peter start blowing!”
I’d brought two nice bottles of wine with me and was more than willing to drink both of them all to myself just to recoup from my hell ride but opted to share with the motley crew I saw before me.
I turned to the father of the house, a guy who looked exactly like a non-Hispanic Tony Orlando with a beer belly.
“Do you drink wine?” I asked.
“All the time,’ he chuckled.
“Well good then you’ll have a corkscrew.”
His wife, a woman with a 1970’s perm, dressed in over-alls, chimed in. “We don’t have no corkscrew. All our wine just screws off.”
I noticed a distinctive beard growing from her chin.
“Got a hammer.” I ask arousing the curiosity of Tony Orlando and …um Dawn.
I used the hammer to pound a butter knife into the cork and after several whacks, I finally succeeded in pushing the cork inside the bottle of wine. I was then able to keep the cork down with a fork handle and pour myself a glass, or shall I say a Styrofoam cup, of wine.
It wasn’t classy, but it worked.
“Wow,” Tony O exclaimed, “ You musta gone to college!”
Sis started putting the food out on the table; a deli platter made by the local grocery store consisting of twirled up slices of cold cuts decorated with roses made out of tomatoes. There were buckets of potato salad and coleslaw, paper plates piled high with knishes and every imaginable kind of bread or roll.
“Wow! This is fancy!” Tony O exclaimed shoving a handful of ham into his mouth.
The biggest star of the birthday buffet, however, were the pilferings from Sis’s latest boyfriend’s latest job. He works for a vending machine company. Sis began to dole out a garbage bag filled with cans of soda, individual bags of chips and cookies, chewing gum, chocolate bars and those orange cracker and peanut butter sandwich concoctions that you never see anywhere but in a vending machine.
The kids were ecstatic.
“Not till after you eat dinner!” their mom screamed. The ignored her and ripped into the chocolate bars.
Seated at the table was Dolores, a pal of my sister’s from beauty school. Dolores wore a pink cashmere sweater and dusted her face with that same kind of scented powder I’d always associated with elderly women. She was quiet and polite, and sat with her hands on her lap. She seemed to normal to be friends with my sister until I noticed the way her fingers nervousless clutches her knees under the table. Her eyes never wandered far from her two sons; boys in crew cuts who looked to be 8 and 10 years old. They ran about playing with Tony O and Dawn’s two platinum hair kids. I tried to decipher the look that glazed over Dolores’s eyes as she watched her boys and finally realized it was terror.
One of the platinum kids ran about shirtless and shoeless. His hair was gelled into a Mohawk.
“Check out his hair!” My sister commanded.
“It was for school.” His mother explained.
I wondered what cultural event had occurred in the Keansburg school that prompted a Mohawk hair do, perhaps a production of “Last of the Mohicans.”
“It was for weird hair day!” Tony O bellowed while popping open another beer.
The television was on with the sound off. Peter and Dawn sat on the couch staring at a cop show on TV and laughing. It wasn’t a comedy. On Peter’s lap sat a paper plate piled high with cold cuts and several chocolate bars. He ate the chocolate bars.
Next to the couch was a birdcage. The parrot who’d recently been allowed out of the cage, sat on top of the cage pulling itself from bar to bar with its beak. When the platinum kids got into a violent game of balloon volleyball they accidentally knocked the parrot off the cage. Tony O picked it up from the floor and replaced it on the top of the cage. It seemed dizzy and bewildered and sat still for a long time blinking. When it finally orientated itself it kept looking back at the floor as if it were considering whether or not to jump.
“Get out of there!” Tony O screamed at a tuxedo cat who had crawled up on one of the tables and was grabbing pieces of cheese off the youngest platinum kids plate. The platinum girl didn’t care. She had abandoned her dinner long ago in favor of picking her nose, which she continued to do for the rest of the evening.
The house mutt; a dirty looking brown thing that looked like it had been taken in from a junkyard…yesterday, took turns sitting next to Dolores, Sis and then myself, begging for food. When my sister was done with her plate she gave it to the dog. It was filled with coleslaw and tuna fish. The dog inhaled the Cole slaw as if it hadn’t eaten in days.
Tony O picked up the parrot and let it perch on his wrist.
“Polly want a punch in the face?? Polly want a kick in the ass??”
“Stop it!” his wife screamed.
“She loves this fucking bird.” He shrugged.
Another cat, this one skinny and timid looking, peeked its head out from the stairs then ran away.
“The rats were supposed to eat the bird, the cats were supposed to eat the rats and the dog was supposed to eat the cats, “Tony O lamented his master plan gone array. “But they all like each other.”
The doorbell rang. A stocky blonde man with very few teeth walked in. Tony O jumped to hug him. “John. Hey John! This is great. When did you get out of jail?”
“Hey man. Is there a party? Cool.”
John walked past Sis mumbling and went right to the beer. He didn’t introduce himself till he’d downed half of it.
“Burp! How old are you nowwww?” He exclaimed pulling up his t-shirt and scratching his belly.
Peter, clearly on a sugar high from three chocolate bars and two cupcakes began to giggle in a high-pitched voice at the soundless television.
“Wanna see the V?” my sister screeched at Peter.
“ Do you wanna see the V?”
She sat on a chair, leaned back and opened her legs wide. “There’s my Veeeeeeee!”
I sat on the other couch next to the nose-picking girl and closed my eyes for a minute.
“Heheheheheh! That’s funny!” Peter shouted. He began to look at Sis adoringly.
John picked up the younger of the crew cut boys and began to swing him around by his arm like an airplane. The boy screamed half in fear, half in delight.
Dolores turned white. “Make him stop! Ma ma ma make him stop!”
Dawn took John aside and whispered something in his ear.
“Awww I wasn’t gonna hurt the kid.”
Dejected he turned his sights on me.
“So I heard you’re from the big city.”
“I’ve been there.”
“You sure are different from your sister.”
“I’ve been told.”
Sis put out three birthday cakes, each with candles, the kind you get ready made from the grocery store.
I founded Sis’s lighter from her purse and lit the candles. We all sang happy birthday to her. John made it a point to sing louder then everyone else as if it were a contest.
“Happy Birthday to youuuuuuuuu crazy ladyyyyyy!!!
She blew out the candles in one powerful breath that amazed me and seemed to bask in the stardom when we all started snapping her picture. Suddenly she was in the limelight and the moment could not be wasted. Sis proceeded to sing the theme song from “All in the Family” in a near perfect Edith Bunker impersonation.
“Mister we could use a man like Herbert Hoover again……!!!!”
Peter began to clap and giggle furiously.
“She’s funny man. Heheheheheh!”
Tony O opened another beer. “I’m sure the neighbors are gonna think we’re really nuts now.”
As we doled the cake out I noticed the tuxedo cat had climbed up on the table and was now partially sitting on the deli platter and eating from it freely as if it were a giant cat bowl.
“Get the hell off there!” Tony O screamed. “I’m gonna kill that cat!”
“Leave it alone!” his wife screamed.
“Anyone want cold cuts to take home?” Sis asked. Looking at the cat, we all declined.
John leaned against the wall sipping his beer staring at me. “So you like wine huh?”
“Just a little with dinner.”
“I like beer.”
“Hey,” he said as if a light bulb had gone off in his head, “Want some cake?”
“Allergic to wheat.”
“Come on have some cake.”
“Ok just a little.”
With that he pulled his hand from behind his back. Unbeknownst to me it was covered in icing. He leaped forward and smeared his hand in my face. The icing went up my nose, in my hair and in my eye. I stood motionless in shock and fury and glared at him. Then I climbed the stairs to the bathroom to clean myself off.
My first reaction was to kick him hard in the crotch but I didn’t want to ruin my sister’s party. I scrubbed at the greasy icing but despite several attempts could not remove it from the inside of my nose. My sinuses began to burn.
I looked down and saw the skinny timid cat staring at me. When I tried to pet it, it ran away.
“Peter. It’s time to go,” I said as soon as I came downstairs.
“Yeah Peter! My sister chimed in. Get the hell out of here. You’re stinking up the joint.”
“Hehehehhee. She’s so funny man!”
I shook hands with Tony O, Dawn and Dolores.
“Come back on Sunday. We’ll be lying under the house putting in insulation. I’m trying to make a party out of it.” Tony O said.
I hugged Sis and tried to be serious with her for a moment.
“Happy Four O” I said.
“ Oh fisssshhhhhh sticks.” She said, never one to endure a serious moment.
I glared at John for a moment attempting to send deadly venom from my eyeballs and then turned to leave.
“Awww! She’s sore at me.” He whined.
My sister walked out after us and bellowed “Hey Peter…don’t forget to eat at the Y!”
“Peter,” I begged.. “Don’t ask.”
I turned my head back to watch her for a moment as she walked back into the house snapping her fingers to some tune in her head. I had a vision of her when she was a little girl, frail and thin, frightened of everything.
“Who’s gonna help me clean up this shit!” I heard her scream as we climbed into the van. I smiled.
We began the long, rainy ride home. Peter was prepared for the journey with his doggy bag full of soda and chocolate bars.
“Your sister is so down to earth man. I mean like she’s so funny. She’s so sexual man. Like really cool.”
I leaned my head back on the head rest and closed my eyes. “Peter. Do me a favor. Don’t eat anymore sugar tonight.”
“The V…wanna see the V??…heeee she’s so funny man.”
Sunday, January 26
Let me tell you something of what it’s like to make a living as a wedding caterer.
I used to think of catering as the enemy of my writing career. Sure it paid the bills, but it always left me so burnt out that there was nothing left inside me when it came time to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.
Then I made an amazing discovery! The mad, manic, neurotic often-psychotic world of catering is primo writing material. Throw in that 90% of my business is catering weddings and you’ve got some killer ingredients for an inspiration stew.
Plus there’s this handy little bonus.
The fact that I come home from an event wired like a valley girl on a Coke binge makes for great late night writing spree.
You just can’t come down from feeding two hundred people without a slow letting off of steam. Hence the 2 AM. writing.
But enough about writing. Let’s talk about this thing called wedding catering.
How about if I just walk you through my last two days.
Friday morning started with me attempting to answer all the phone inquiries that had come in Thursday night before taking a car service to my kitchen in Long Island City. I called back two bar mitzvah moms, three brides and one set of in-laws, then I picked up bagels and Coke (the soda kind) for my kitchen crew and hopped a car to the 59th street bridge.
Bagels and Coca Cola are a must for pro cooks. Ask anyone.
Second only to strong coffee and cigarettes.
I got a call on my cell phone on the way over the bridge, the board of health was sending an inspector and everyone was scurrying around looking for the slightest thing that could be remotely deemed a violation. Lately, perhaps because New York needs the cash, it’s seemed like the inspectors refuse to leave without finding something, however minor, to fine you over.
On their last visit, they picked through about a hundred or so cans in my dry storage section and found one that had a dent that could only be seen by a micro-scope and gave me a $300 dollar fine.
Anyway, I must say, we run a meticulous kitchen, I’ve got the raw hands from a thousand washes to prove it, but nevertheless, today was deemed obsessive compulsive day in honor of the impending inspection.
When I walked into our warehouse kitchen I found Neil (my chef) pacing back and forth by the walk-in looking at the clock and repeating his typical Friday morning mantra, “Where is he? Where is he?”
He… is the meat/fish man who has the best product for the best price but is always, always late.
“We’ve got nothing to do till he gets here. Nothing!’
“Hmmm,” I say in my subtle..Oh really well what about these bazillion little things, voice, “I’m sure there are a few things we can do.”
Miha (my part-time chef) was smiling and cutting up cheese for tomorrow’s cheese table. “Relax….everything is fine…life is fine,” he says in his Slovakian accent. Miha can be happy in that strange way of truly spiritual people, or serial killers.
I push my mess of hair under a bandana and put on a chef jacket that I swim in like a giant mu mu . As we had once asked for a few extra large chef jackets, the linen company has obviously decided that we should have nothing but elephant sized jackets ever after.
I feel like a little kid wearing her mommy’s coat.
So we get into it.
I start a cilantro chutney.
Miha rolls goat cheese in herbs and pepper.
Neil takes in the deliveries and complains
Alethia our Ecuadorian dishwasher/ prep person, smiles, cleans parsley and goes into her secret little place in which she will be lost in her far away thoughts for hours on end. Periodically she looks at us and says in her little bit of English, “Ya Ya…Ya.”
The meat and fish finally show up. Mike apologizes and says what he always says, “Traffic on the bridge.”
Neil and Miha spend the next 2 hours, cutting chicken scaling salmon, roasting bones for chicken stock, slicing sushi tuna into logs to be seared tomorrow and talking about sex.
Kitchen folks talk about three things consistently; sex, food and bowel movements.
This does not necessarily occur in this order but it always occurs.
Other subjects are what I call subtexts of these three; comparing food items to penis’s or vaginas, what other chefs are doing that we hate and fart jokes.
Brian, the chef from the company we share our kitchen with who does food for a college commissary, is walking around with his long blonde rock&roll hair shoved into a hair net.
“You look like a freak,” I tell him trying to be complimentary.
“Yeah dude,” he replies.
In a period of about 7 hours we have gotten through the day’s prep. Dips and sauces made, meat and fish butchered, stock drained and chilling, herbs washed, chickpeas soaking.
It’s a light day for us.
It’s rush hour so no car service for us. We bundle up and take the 7 train into Manhattan.
Once home, I pour myself a glass of chardonnay, soak in a hot bath, answer a dozen phone calls and another dozen emails, order up Chinese food and throw myself in front of the television. The nervousness for the day before a wedding I’m about to cater begins to creep in. Even after 12 years and hundreds of weddings I still get performance anxiety.
Being a wedding caterer is a truly bizarre way to make a living.
As prostitutes are to sex, wedding industry folks are to romance.
I’m in the business of romance.
When I see a wedding gown I don’t think ever-lasting love. I think time to punch the clock.
Lord help me when it’s time for me to get hitched. I think I’ll just take a hundred of my best pals to the local McDonalds.
There are a lot of things I love about being a wedding caterer. I love making beautiful food. I love the adoration and appreciation or my clients. I love making big wads of cash.
But the thing is I hate, is that even though almost all of my business comes from word-of-mouth, even though I’ve had great press , even though I do tastings for my clients, even though I’ve catered hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of weddings.
I still get that night-before-the-wedding terrified message on my answering machine.
“Ummm Chef Rossi…this is the bride’s mother. I just want to make sure everything is okay. You do remember that you’re catering my daughter’s wedding tomorrow?”
No. I forgot. Sheeesh.
Every time I cater a wedding it’s the fist time ( or occasionally the second, maybe third) the client is getting married. Either the bride-to-be spends the entire year before the wedding calling me up worried that I will some-how ruin her wedding or her mom does or the groom does or the groom’s mom. Or no one does until the week of the wedding and suddenly my phone is ringing off the hook with terrified calls, “what happens if you run out of food? Do you have enough staff? Will it rain? Is my menu okay? “
You name it. Pre-wedding jitters are one-way ticket to a terrorized caterer.
I just try to take deep breaths and sound soothing.
What I want to say is. “Take a %$#&* Valium for crying out loud.”
I learned a valuable lesson some years back from a mom-of-a-bride that so terrorized me I was ready to ask her to take herself and her daughter and her 15,000 bucks and go elsewhere.
“Do you know what I do for a living?” she asked.
“I’m a heart surgeon.”
“I’ve done hundreds of open heart surgeries. Used to have the bedside manner of an army captain. One day as we were wheeling a nervous man towards surgery, he grabbed my arm and said. Doctor. Please, this may be your thousandth open-heart surgery but it’s my first…..be kind. So that’s what I’m saying to you. This may be your thousandth wedding, but it’s my only daughter’s first.”
I got the point. Been careful to keep my bedside manner kindly ever since.
Saturday morning begins as all my pre-wedding mornings do; with a huge cup of lethally strong coffee and a banana chaser. I take out the menu and make my food and equipment packing list.
I always say it’s the little things that make a great caterer. Sure. Most caterers can make good food, but how many remember to pack the saran wrap, cocktail napkins and pickled ginger? My packing list would make NASA jealous.
The normal items might be:
The Unusual might be:
I pick up coffee for the crew and head over the bridge. Once in the kitchen Neil and Miha are in full crank mode.
Neil is roasting chicken.
Alethia is slicing baguettes for the cheese table.
Everything is being done at jet speed.
I imagine to an outsider we must look like a film playing on fast speed, but to us it’s the usual pre-wedding motion. As long as we don’t sit down or eat anything heavy, we can maintain this speed for up to 10 hours without stopping.
I pull out 6 white lugs and start packing.
Cheese and fruit in the cheese table lug
Within three hours the pre-party prep is done.
Peter my Ecuadorian driver has arrived with the refrigerated van and is loading up the lugs with his usual song no one has ever heard of in his head that he hums all day long.
We put our dirty gigantic chef jackets in the laundry bag and change into clean gigantic jackets.
The we all cram into the van like the Beverly Hillbilly’s and head off to the party.
“Did you remember the foil?” Neil asks like he always does.
We unload into the freight elevator at the party location, a turn-of-century factory turned into a Soho loft. Carlos the Ecuadorian (catching a trend here?) building manager politely helps us load in.
“Come on! Hurry up! Hurry up! I got shit to do!”
On the top floor, where the party is I find Margot my maitre d/ party captain. She has that look on her face that can only be read as “Someone is pissing me off big time!”
Turns out it’s the client’s florist who has decided to hang curtains in a way that block the heat from circulating around the room so that the kitchen feels like Miami and the ceremony area feels like Siberia. The florist has also managed to place votive candles directly under her flower arrangements so that a tiny fire starts on one of the café tables.
As if this is not a great enough start, she waits until Margot has the waiters roll 100 sets up silverware into ivory napkins before telling Margot that she has special red napkins for this purpose.
I attempt to take advantage of the fact that I pay Margot very well for taking care of this kind of bull-doody and ignore the entire situation.
In the kitchen Miha and Neil work on getting all the perishables organized and in the fridge. I take over setting up the 8-foot cheese table and Armando our Ecuadorian dish washer (what can I say, I’m the Ecuadorian Mother Teresa)..scrubs down the work tables.
In the next two hours I set up a country style cheese table for 150 guests with enough food on it to feed 300 guests. Miha and Neil get the hors d’oeuvres ready and the guests, as always arrive a half hour early.
The wedding ceremony is lovely, as always, the guests devour the cheese table like they haven’t eaten in a decade, like usual and we get into our rhythm.
For the next hour we crank out hors d’oeuvres. I yell at the waiters to clean the trays which they never seem to do and Ira, our waiter in charge of letting us know what everyone in the entire room is saying and doing comes in to report to us, how many of the guests are gay, how many are fat, who is a pig, what they think of the food and what he thinks of the brides’ outfit.
“Thanks Ira…now shut the fuck up….” I answer like always.
There are 6 wedding guests stationed at the door to the kitchen who refuse to move and refuse to let the waiters get past them until they grab handfuls of everything on their trays.
“Um we do have to get to the other guests,” one of the waiters says politely.
“Shrimp….bring more shrimp!” they scream at him in answer.
The waiters have to resort to battle mode after this. One waiter goes in front to make way and the other waiter with his tray up high over his head pushes past the rude people and gets to the guests in the back.
Fran, the waiter (we don’t say waitress even if they’re a woman) waits for Neil to pile some vegetable samosas on her tray. She takes this opportunity to needle me as she always does, “So what’s up your ass today? Got your period? You wanna take this outside?”
“Oy vey already!,” I say to her, “Shut up and eat something!”
After the cocktail hour ends. Half the waiters start pouring champagne for the toast, the other half break down the cheese table and bring it into the kitchen.
We now have 30 minutes to be ready for dinner.
I lay the sides of pepper roasted salmon on the fish tray and Miha decorates them with marinated cucumbers and tomatoes. He then piles an herb mixture of scallion, parsley and chervil on top of the fish.
Neil rotates the chicken and asparagus so it’s all hot and I begin on cous cous mountain.
This entails taking a Moroccan brass tray about the size of a Manhattan studio apartment and piling it with cous cous until I have something out of “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” (I know, I know, before your time), then sprinkling white raisins, almonds, cashews,apricots, figs and parsley on top.
It takes two of our butchest waiters to bring it out.
In 29 minutes we are ready; salmon, chicken, cous cous, asparagus, chick pea salad, baby lettuce salad, bread and butter all out.
Just in time for stampede the likes of which I haven’t seen since my last western flick.
“Look ! The buffet is open!” screams one of those same 6 people who tried to eat hors d’ oeuvres for 150. You gotta wonder what these people do in their normal lives. Do they not eat for two or three days before a wedding?
Everytime I look out at the buffet Ira manages to give me the “what the fuck look”. Jeremy (Ira’s boyfriend) smiles his wide toothy smile and giggles every time Ira makes the face.
We’ve got a happy crew….a happy crew of New York City bitchy waiters. That’s pretty much the best you can do in this biz.
There aren’t too many hitches in the dinner hour. A few old ladies who refuse to get up despite the fact that this is a buffet and have to have their meals brought to them. A few more near fire hazards by the florists candle placement. Nothing we can’t handle.
Armando our dishman receives a call from his cell phone,(even the dishwashers have cell phones these days) and disappears for an hour.
“Either a woman or a drug deal,” I say to Neil’s puzzled face.
Margot comes in for refills on salad and salmon. “That florist was trying to boss me around..Can you imagine? I said listen honey I’ve been running these weddings for 12 years how long have you been around? ”
“You go girl,” I say smiling knowing exactly what happens to the silly mortals who try to boss Margot around.
We break down half of the double-sided buffet and leave one half up for the guests resolved to come back for seconds and thirds.
I turn the food brought in, into a staff meal and Margot begins to break the staff a few at a time to eat.
Alex, the bartender who’s been bored out of his head because none of the guests want anything more interesting than a screwdriver, piles his plates high with chicken. “No red meat?” he asks sadly. Alex is a big Irish guy from Queens. He lives for red meat.
“Sorry big boy.”
Alex has arrived in the kitchen just in time to settle a debate I’m having with Miha. Miha has informed me that the average male penis is 8 inches when soft. I haven’t had many male penises (many female ones though) but I tell him I’m pretty sure its more like 6.
“Alex!! What’s the average size for a penis?” I ask.
“Ummm.. 6 inches I think. Why do you want one?”
“I guess it’s just what I’m used to after all I’m a lucky, lucky boy.” Miha jokes.
Having taken on the obligatory penis part of the conversation we move into bowel movements and I explain what parts of the buffet will be constipating and what parts loosening.
Neil pushes the soy mayo out of a squirt bottle into the garbage. It makes a noise that sounds, well appropriate for this part of the conversation.
“Excuse me,” he says and we both laugh.
After we have fed all the guests at least once and some of them three times, the buffet is broken down.
The florist who is noticeably drunk comes into the kitchen to eat from the staff meal. She is halfway thru her meal before I notice she isn’t using silverware.
“Here’s a fork,” I offer.
We put enough food on the staff table to feed the 6 waiters that haven’t eaten yet and Neil and Miha start packing up a bridal box with enough goodies for them to have another mini party for 30 of their best pals.
Ira comes in the kitchen to eat. “Did you see that one who tried to eat the garnish? I was like lady that’s a flower.”
I line up 12 assorted trays and bowls on the back table and Miha begins making cookie and pastry displays for the dessert buffet.
Armando our dishman finally returns. He has a silly look on his face. When I ask him where he has been, he reminds me doesn’t speak English and asks for a “Servesa” (beer).
We hear the bandleader announce that its time to cut the cake, even though it wasn’t actually time to cut the cake and hurriedly clear off our worktable, put cutting boards and knifes on the table and the cake plates.
The cake comes in. We take the top layer off to save for the bride and groom and Neil and Miha start slicing the rest. Slicing it, thanks to a thick, greasy, somewhat melted butter cream icing, is a gooey mess and it is, (natch) exactly at this moment, that the party locations runs out of hot water.
There is nothing short of gasoline that will get the melted butter cream off our fingers.
After three washes I give up and prepare to spend the rest of my life with butter fingers.
The150 wedding guests that have eaten food for 250, devour the baby pastry and cookie displays and still have plenty of room for cake.
Ira comes in the kitchen, “Did you see the guy who tried to eat rose petals. I was like Mista….I don’t think you should be doing that.”
It’s always at the cake cutting time,that I begin to ponder whether or not the client is as happy as I hope they are.
Just as the thought crosses my mind, the bride comes in.
She looks almost amazingly beautiful. Her entire face seems to be smiling. She kisses me on the cheek.
“Thank you for everything! It was just perfect!”
I feel my face turning red. I love the compliments but they still embarrass me.
“Hey I’m not done with you yet,” I answer and we show her the bridal box.
“Oh my god!” she giggles, “My mom will love this.”
After the bride leaves it’s the anti-climax part of the evening. We came, we saw, we fed the masses and now there’s a big ass mess to haul back to the kitchen.
Luckily for moi, this is the one part of the business that I can completely delegate. I call up a car service for myself and leave Miha and Neil to deal with taking our stuff back to the kitchen.
I take off my chef jacket dress, throw into a lug, grab my gear and head out for my car, on the way I pass Fran on the dessert buffet. She can’t pass up one last opportunity to give it to me. “You outa here already….miss premenstrual.”
“Shut-up-already.” I answer.
I pass Alex at the bar… “If 8 inches is the average I’m in trouble,”
“Hey Alex..you know what they say…it’s not the meat…”
In the elevator I yell to Carlos. “Adios Carlito!”
He yells back, “Get the fuck outa here! I’m busy!”
Thursday, January 23
Just watched Spider Man
What can I say I'M A FREAK!
Anyway, I was thinking about the scene where William Defoe's creepy villain The Goblin is asking Spidey to make a choice.
Be a hero and see how thankless people are, or just say, what the fuck and be a villain where all the fun is at.
Spidey opted for the first choice.. natch, but the whole scene got me to thinking...
I've always felt like the last of the good guys...the one wearing the white hat and all that sorta thing.
My friends will tell you I'm honest to a flaw. ..definately to a flaw trust me on that.
I like to think I'm generous, kind, brave, giving.
But the way the world is going lately...I'm made more and more aware of how not pure and not good I really am.
I started out caring deeply about the Palestinian plight or at least trying to. Now when I hear the word Palestinian all I can think of is the murder of innocents. I don't see their victim-hood I see dead children on a blown up bus. I've lost my openness, my willingness to hear every side of the story.
I think of the possible war against Iraq and I want to care so much for all the innocent lives at stake but all I can see is Saddam with his snickering smile as he pushes the button sending a missile to Jerusalem....or New York.
I don't feel like the white hat cowboy anymore. I think my hat is turning grey.
Most of the hats I see out there aren't black or white anymore. They're something in between. A lot of them are red.
I'm frightened not so much of the bad people out there, but of me not feeling as far removed from them as I used to.
War, terrorism.. these things kill but they also do something far more dangerous; they make us less. They dampen our kindness.
I want to feel like Spider Man.
I want to know that I'm riding with the good guys ...even if I ride alone.
Sunday, January 19
I suppose you’ve noticed a major lack of commentary on my part re the war or not war against Iraq.
To be perfectly honest, I guess my lack of commentary is because I’ve been really confused about the whole issue.
There’s no question in my mind that Saddam Hussein is a major $#%^&* who has to be taken out if not for our good, certainly for the good of his own people.
He’s a nasty dictator who, if left to his own doings will certainly build weapons of mass destruction if he hasn’t already. He’s clearly attempted to build them and attempted to hide whatever he’s attempted to build.
He's a big attempter that guy.
The problem is that whenever you fight a war innocent people get killed.
Innocent people were killed in Afghanistan when we took out the Taliban, but, hey, most of us agreed that the Taliban had to go.
Although I must say, it pissed me off that this country didn’t want to take out the Taliban some years back when we learned what they were doing to women in Afghanistan. But of course the stoning, executions and amputations of women is never enough reason to get men to go to war.
The problem with Iraq is that it’s not a large murdering group of psycho Islamic fundamentalists who destroy all in their path that isn't Islam. It’s one psycho Moslem leader and his immediate underlings who destroy all in their path that isn't Saddam Hussein.
There are a whole lot of innocent lives caught up in this mix.
On the other hand.
I’ve had a little trouble stomaching some of the anti-war protests.
I've been watching a whole lot of college kids promenade around Washington Square Park with peace signs and army fatigues that they probably borrowed from their parents. Honestly they seem far more interested in resurrecting the 60’s then in fighting war.
HELLO IDIOTS! WOODSTOCK TWO WAS A BIG JOKE AND SO ARE YOU!
I do think Saddam has to go but I question just exactly why we didn’t take him out the last time we blew away a lot of innocent lives to push him back.
It also is a little disconcerting that all the while this country is saying it’s waiting for the U.N. to do it’s job it’s also sending troops over there. It seems clear to everyone that the baby Bush is gonna go to war regardless of what the U.N. finds.
Hidden Agenda might as well be tattooed on the baby Bush’s head…right under
I do think it would be a major PR boo boo for America to go to war without world support. Hell even England is starting to simmer off when it comes to war vigor.
I like that America is not one to walk away from taking on a world class jerk even if we're the only ones butch enough to do the job, but things are tricky these days.
It sure is sad that the baby Bush managed to blow all the “911” world support and we're now just running on fumes.
He surely should have taken out Saddam while he had the whole non-Arab world on his side.
But still, here I sit. I am unable to sign anti-war petitions.
I am also un-able to be hawking it up with the pro-war folks.
I sit uncomfortably on the fence.
I am waiting for the U.N. inspectors to do their job.
I am also hoping the Saddam will use some of the brain cells that got him so much power to know when to bend and how far over.
And I’m concerned as hell that all the world strife lately seems to have Islam thrown into the mix. If that doesn’t smell like the simmering for a World War 3 stew I don’t what does.
Islam against Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism. We’ve seen this already.
Is it only a matter of time before it’s Islamic fundamentalists against the non- Islamic world?
Kinda makes you wonder what creature will be reading about us one day a million years after we’re extinct.
To war or not war, that is a question I've yet to work out.
But I'm not the one with my life at stake. Or am I?
Thursday, January 16
been a bit of a full on pshycho week i must say
so life goes on
that's all this girl can muster for now
Saturday, January 11
I’ve been in a movie mood lately.
I think it's got something to do with the Jan/Feb blues.
Just saw “Gangs of New York” in the theatre ..long, lonnnngggg flick...and damn me …I finally saw “A Perfect Storm.” Had to wait to see it on the TV but I saw it.
Anyway seeing these two movies back to back is making me feel a tad odd.
Gangs left me feeling kind of small and meaningless standing against the onslaught of time and history. (also left me wondering just what the hell happened with Daniel Day Lewis's accent...did we really talk like guys from Bensonhurst in the mid 1,800's??)
Storm made me feel lucky as hell to be on dry land but also made me feel a little guilty for not ever taking the time to understand how the rest of the world lives.
I was mesmerized by this inside look at the life of a swordfisherman and their loved ones. Sorta seemed like the New England fisherman wasn't so far off from the Texas cowboy.
It’s not like I'd get to know any fisherman in NYC although I do spend a lot of time in Provincetown where Sebastian Junger hangs out and where a lot of dudes and dudettes who could have been role models for this movie drink a lot. It's just that Damn there’s a whole world full of lives out there I know nothing about.
Wonder what goes thru the mind of a miner?
How does it feel to be in a Coast Guard rescue crew?
Shit the only thing I think about when I see a swordfish is how much I prefer tuna not what its like to go out into the middle of hell and harpoon one of these suckers.
But my point is, what the hell is my point? Hmmm I guess it’s something like aint it amazing how seeing a movie is what we do to escape our life, but if the movie strikes a nerve it can make us think about our life a thousand times more.
So now I’m floating in the water with Mark Wahlberg while he says his distant good-byes to Dianne Lane thinking what’s it all for..what have I done? Have I done enough? How long can Mark swim? Do sharks come out in a storm? Why the hell didn’t I see this on a big screen?
And I’m watching Daniel Day Lewis’s accent go from Brooklyn to lord... sounded like China and back again and wondering why there’s a whole chunk of New York City history I knew nothing about.
Who knew New Yorkers rioted in the street trying to not fight in the Civil War?
I always assumed that all Yankees ran into the war whole heartedly.
I’d like to think I woulda.
Who knew that rich folks could buy their way out of the war for 300 bucks?
If a draft came today, would the rich be allowed to get out for 3,000 bucks or 30,000?
Will today’s history be as forgotten as it seems this part of the 1,800’s was? Forgotten by all but history buffs until some distant showman makes a movie or whatever it is that they make a hundred years from now (maybe a satellite telecast from Pluto) out of our time.
Will they be called the Bush junior years. The war years. The terror years. The years that even liberal peace loving chitlins like myself got the war bug.
I’m out there in the water with Marky Mark while the waves crash over us and we’re trying to keep our heads above water and I’m thinking why the hell do I have to die with Marky Mark?
Why can’t I be warm in bed with Dianne Lane?
I’m also wondering will the decisions we make today be remembered tomorrow?
Will the decisions we make today prevent tomorrow from coming?
I gotta start watching more comedies.
Monday, January 6
So I assume you’ve heard of the lovely “ one two punch” reported on the news yesterday.
The Palestinian terrorists did a double suicide bombing. The first was meant to blow up as many innocents as possible. The second was meant to catch all of the people running.
23 lives have been lost so far and oh about 100 or so injured.
Turns out many of the victims were foreigners who came into the land of "milk and honey" for work.
In fear that some of the victims who were in the country illegally might be afraid to come in for medical treatment, Israel went on the air making sure to tell all who needed medical assistance to come on in…no questions asked, no deportations.
Yep…that sure sounds like the doings of an evil bunch of Zionist murderers.
“Please come in..so we can help you!”
Oh those dastardly Jews…
So I watched this on the news last night. It only took about two minutes before a Palestinian spokesman came on and blamed the whole thing on the Israelis.
“Yep. It’s those %$#@^& Zionists man…They’re making us kill all those people. They tape the bombs to our chests and make us blow ourselves and women and children and mothers and fathers ...up. Honest! They make us do it!”
So just out of curiosity…how long do you think it will take for the world to forget about the mass murders by the Palestinian terrorists and only condemn Israel’s retaliation?
Then we'll get to hear all those news reports all over again.
"Oh those big mean Zionists….they’re making us do this. We really don’t want to kill …honestly. We love Jews! If they just gave us the whole country we’d be soooo nice to them. Well as long as they all converted to Islam of course."
"It would be, you know just like in the bible…all peace and good will. "
I've got a word to all the Palestians caught up in this shit who say they want peace and equality.
Why don't you get rid of the double talking, murdering, terrorists from amongst your ranks? Why don't you tell Arafat to take a hike...in hell?
You say you want peace....well start acting like it.
These are your people blowing themselves up and taking innocent lives with them.
Stop praising them and singing about them, dancing around in joy at their exalted memory and start calling them what they are; cowardly murderers.
As long as this goes on...everybody loses.
celexa professional sale canada kamagra for sale generic cialis next day shipping buying viagra in canada canada viagra for sale free sample pack of cialis online celexa sale canadian healthcare cialis order cialis us discount pharmacy propecia purchase canadians buy kamagra from usa order kamagra online cialis next day generic kamagra online order cialis profesional cheap viagra overnight delivery purchase generic cialis propecia drug information cialis by mail buy cheapest viagra online buy canada celexa cialis canada online pharmacy using viagra cialis next day delivery canada levitra no prescription cialis canadian pharmacy viagra buy online generic celexa quality cialis best getting cialis from canada order cialis no rx order viagra online very cheap viagra cost viagra buy cialis uk kamagra professional sale lowest price for propecia viagra in uk buy cialis once daily free viagra samples us pharmacy viagra alternative for viagra real cialis for sale canadian viagra online viagra generic risk kamagra viagra fast viagra prescriptions viagra no online prescription purchasing cialis using cialis viagra tablets cheap india lexapro propecia online without a prescription generic pill viagra pills viagra discount bulk viagra cheap prescription levitra generic propecia canadian purchase cialis overnight delivery best way to take cialis female levitra pills cialis health store order propecia through bosley