Tales from “The Annoying Bar & Grill”: Is ANYTHING alright?

theabgisanythingallrightThere are tables upon which I wait that I want to ask, instead of the standard “How is everything?”, something snarkier, but far more pointed, which is: “Is ANYTHING alright?”

It is a great line — and one that I picked up from a waiter friend. Alas, I cannot use it in my place of business, not if I want it to be my place of business any longer, anyway. My friend gets away with it where he works. I would not get away with it where I work. It is a great line, though, don’t you think? Still, I wish I had never heard it. Because it is oh, so tempting to use it.

On several occasions this weekend I found it on the tip of my tongue, but was able, in a rare show of self-restraint, to stop myself from uttering it aloud. That there was more than one table where, seemingly, no one was happy with anything is an indication that someone should have stayed home this weekend — perhaps that someone was me. Considering that I work there, that I had to be there, and that I needed the money, my staying home was not exactly feasible.

Customers have choices, though. Oh, yes. They do. What they also have are opinions. About everything.

One of the most grating things that people complain about is the temperature in the restaurant. For the record — and because I was forced to check it no less than a hundred times in a three-day period — I know that the thermostat was registering an ambient 72 degrees Fahrenheit ALL WEEKEND. It was, in other words, PERFECT. I think that even Goldilocks, that pesky little fairytale trespasser, would have agreed that it was JUST RIGHT!

Still, I had to listen to the barrage of complaints regarding our HVAC system. “It’s FREEZING in here!” (Seventy-two degrees is NOT freezing. That’s just science, kids.) “Oh, my God. It’s so HOT in here!” (No, it was not.) “Am I sitting underneath a vent? There is air blowing directly ON me!” (The fan was off, so there was NO air blowing directly ON anybody. Again, science.)

And then there were the complaints about the seasonal menu items that we no longer offer, as it is now a DIFFERENT season. Several tables wanted the corn on the cob. When I explained that we no longer had any corn on the cob — but that it would likely make a return to the menu NEXT summer — you would have thought that I had told them that we would no longer be offering oxygen in our too hot/too cold atmosphere. Many were befuddled by this news, a few were actually crestfallen — by the absence of corn. Corn!

We were also out of Blue Moon on tap this weekend. I had a server come up to me and tell me that a customer was “demanding” that he be provided a Blue Moon on tap. And so I did what any bartender in a similar position would do. I poured a bottle of Blue Moon into a glass and slapped an orange on the rim. Problem solved.

As the server walked away, I just shook my head in disbelief. Who “demands” an item that we are out of? How did this guy think I was going to produce a keg of beer for him when I could not produce it for anyone else? Did he think I had managed to formulate and ferment a batch in the back room? Did he think I had The Belgian Brewmasters on speed dial? Why did he have to have Blue Moon? Who allowed this idiot to leave the house?

When he finished his meal and as he was leaving the restaurant, our Blue Moon enthusiast stopped at the bar to thank me for “finding” the Blue Moon on tap. (As if it had been “lost”.) He went on to say that had he been unable to have a Blue Moon on tap that he might have gone “ballistic”. “Well”, I said, “as entertaining as such a thing might have been, sir, I am happy that we were able to avoid THAT!” It was a good thing that he didn’t want the corn. I don’t know how we could have pulled that one over on him.

As if the customers were not annoying enough this weekend, the cooks got in on the act, as well. Of course they did.

I don’t know what-all was going on with them this weekend. They behaved as if I, personally, had pissed in their Cheerios. I had not. I was not the one eating from the gluten-free menu or insisting that we butterfly a bone-in steak; I was simply the conduit for the people who were. That I had to continually remind them of this added an element of difficulty to my weekend that I, for one, could, very easily, have lived without.

In spite of all that went on down at “The Annoying Bar & Grill”, some good things did happen this weekend. The New York Mets managed to win their division for the first time in nine years! I enjoyed a lovely hibachi dinner with some friends. Oh, and, my daughter decided to get her septum pierced. That last thing, on the surface, may not seem like a good thing, but if you were the person on the other end of the thousand text messages concerning this decision, you might feel otherwise.

The reality is that I don’t care what my kid pierces — as long as she gets it done in a sterile environment, as long as I don’t have to pay for it, as long as she just does it already, I honestly do not care. Other people will care far more than I will.

Last Thanksgiving she came home with a nostril piercing — an event that caused some people to question my parenting skills. This year’s piercing may well bring about similar conversations. To tell you the truth, I hope that it does. I am thinking that it may afford me the opportunity to use that line — the one that I love so very much, but dare not throw at my customers — as I defend my hard-working and bright progeny’s decision to put a ring or a bone (I so hope it’s a bone!) through her nose.

To my family I can ask, without fear of repercussion, “Is ANYTHING alright?”

Small Town News: I Am Not Surprised

smalltownnewsiamnotsurprisedI was at my local market yesterday, which is not unusual. I am a frequent flyer there, so much so that I am often surprised not to be greeted enthusiastically and in the same fashion as was “Norm”  in the 80’s television series, Cheers.  (A chorus of “JACKIE!”  would not, in other words, be out of place.) It is just that kind of local place. They may not serve beer or have my barstool waiting, but everyone knows me just the same.

That being the case, it is often surprising that whilst grabbing a carton of eggs, a handful of leeks, or a bottle of soda, I have borne witness to my fair share of “yokels behaving badly”. These people never seem to care that everyone, figuratively and, at times, even literally, knows their name.

It is sort of funny to have a front row seat when some of the townsfolk — many of whom seem relatively normal as they dive into a bag of zeppoles at the annual church carnival  or peruse a fashion magazine at the municipal pool — have highly emotional and, yes, outsized, reactions to the absence of things like kumquats or candied orange peel at the local market.

I have been downright shocked to observe certain people, when they think no one is watching, getting handsy with the cheese samples. The forward thinking and generous folks at the market conveniently place toothpicks next to the complimentary cheeses to avoid just such unsanitary behavior. (Use them, Mrs. W., use them!)

The powers-that-be have done their due diligence on the toothpick front. I don’t hold them responsible for the Mrs. W.’s of the world. You can lead a horse to water and all that.

The expectation that the toothpick stockers can foresee and avert a run on niche produce or citrus confections, well, that is just ludicrous. More ludicrous, though, are the reactions of those who pop into the market to purchase such exotica only to find the shelves bare.

To say these kumquat seekers feel thwarted is to put it mildly. Judging from the exchange that I was privy to recently, one would think that the market managers wake up in the morning and hatch an evil plan to remove certain products from the shelves just, you know, because they can. Just because “that guy” will be in later seeking them.

“That guy”, a guy that I do not actually know, but whose act I am all too familiar with, was carrying on — to a powerless cashier, mind you — about the availability or, to be more precise, the lack of availability of fresh squeezed juice.

I didn’t even know the market carried fresh squeezed juice! In the interests of full disclosure, I am not much of a juice drinker. Still, I think I would have noted its presence. It really must be tucked away in some dark corner. Maybe it is nestled amongst other healthy items that hold no interest for me — the quinoa, the granola, the wheat germ — if it were housed near the chocolate chip cookies, I surely would know of its existence.

While there are many things that I do not know, there are a few things that I do. For example, I know “that guy” — not by name, but certainly by face. His act and his expectations were no different on his recent visit to the market than it frequently had been when I was forced to wait on him at the small local restaurant where I was, recently and briefly, employed.

He liked to create the impression that he was a very important person by barking at whoever he was on the phone with — and he was always on the phone with someone. That he “dressed for success” in basketball shorts, two-dollar flip-flops, and a stained t-shirt was, I always thought, part of another statement that he was making — that he was too busy to care about his appearance when it didn’t matter, when the only people he was going to come into contact with were the peons that would be doing his bidding, peons like me. Peons like the market cashier.

When he came in with other people — people who I assume he was selling something to (I think he may be a realtor) — he presented an altogether different appearance: a suit and tie, shoes with laces, and, of course, the requisite pinkie ring. Yeah. He is a real operator, a bona fide mover and shaker. He is also a world-class boob.

I wouldn’t buy a penny candy from him, but I know for sure that his clients are not privy to who he really is. When he was wining and dining someone, he would deign to speak to me — like one human to another; when he was alone, with no one to impress, he would, if I was lucky, grunt his order at me.

When I was unlucky, which was most of the time, our entire discourse would be conducted through the use of hand motions. He would wave away the menu I was presenting, indicate that he wanted a drink refill by holding his glass aloft, and order soup by miming a spoon-to-mouth gesture. If he wanted another bowl of soup, which he almost always did, he would charmingly tap his empty bowl on the table and then tilt it to demonstrate its emptiness.

While Mrs. W.’s attitude toward food safety may have come as a shock to me, “that guy” berating a cashier didn’t surprise me at all. Not one little bit.

Had I not been getting “the eye” from my husband, who sensed that I was about to spring to the cashier’s defense, and had the cashier not handled herself with aplomb — had she looked upset or been younger, for example — I would not have hesitated to open my mouth. On some level I would have loved an excuse to call “that guy” out, but I am happy that it didn’t come to that. (I daresay my husband was also very pleased at my rare show of restraint!) The seasoned cashier, to her credit, did not need my “help”; she was perfectly capable of handling “that guy”.

I did manage to catch “that guy’s” eye, though. He knew exactly who I was. More importantly, he understood that I knew exactly who he was. I took some satisfaction in the fact that I did not have to behave badly myself, that by simply making my presence known “that guy” scurried away — as quickly, let me just add, as his skanky flip-flops could carry him.

For my next passive-aggressive act, I would love to catch Mrs. W.’s eye when she gets busy fondling the cheese.

Tales From “The Annoying Bar & Grill”: Peace Out!

the annoying bar & grill peaceout


Tick… Tick… Tick… (Fifteen more seconds to freedom!)

Keys in hand, the manager approaches the door. Tick… Tick… Tick… (Ten more seconds to freedom!)

I hear voices. Is that a customer? Oh, no!

Oh, yes!

Oh, my God, is he is going to sit at the bar? The dark bar? The very obviously closed bar? The bar where the bartender has her pocketbook on her shoulder and her drawer in her hand? You bet he is. Why? Why? Why? Because that’s just the way it goes, that’s why.

He apologizes. He will be quick. Oh, my God! I just want to go home. I am cleaned up and finished. I have not had a customer in an HOUR. An HOUR! Kill me now! I put the drawer back and my pocketbook down. Whomp-whomp-wah.

The servers still have tables. Why didn’t he sit over there? Why? Why? Why? Because I must have been a very bad person in a past life, that’s why.

He orders. He did know what he wanted, I’ll give him that. Guys like him, the “ten seconds to close guys” (and, yes, it is ALWAYS a man), normally only SAY that they know what they want and then force me to read them the menu, make recommendations, blah, blah, blah. This guy was actually true to his word. Still.

In what may just be record time — and I have been doing this for a long time, don’t forget — I bring him a drink, some bread, and his salad. Ready. Set. Eat!

He wants to talk. He begins to throw names around, manager’s names, people he knows in corporate. That’s nice. I don’t care. Is he doing this to let me know that I should continue to be nice to him? I’ve been nice. Very nice. He is very nice, too. Still, we are closed. Please just eat your salad, Mother Teresa. I am going to go and check on your steak. I will cook it if I have to.

Just another minute. Tick… Tick… Tick…

Yes, The Mets lost. Again. No, I do not think it’s tragic. Let’s give them a few more games before we use the word “collapse”. Let’s not be dramatic.

Here you go! I hope it’s cooked just the way you ordered it!

Oh, you like horseradish with your steak. No problem. Let me just go ahead and climb over everything in the back and fetch that for ya! Yay!

More iced tea? Sure. Luckily, I had the forethought to fill another glass before the container was tossed for the night. Here you go! Oh, you want more lemons? Of course you do! Sure. Could you have told me that when I went to forage for the horseradish? Yes, you could have, but you did not. I will be back in a jiffy. Don’t let my absence stop you from eating!

Please stop apologizing for keeping me here and just eat. Please. It is going on thirty minutes now, our relationship. That is thirty minutes too long, just so you know.

You had a long day and that big old steak is the pot of gold at the end of your rainbow. I understand. Let’s just make this a short rainbow, though, okay? If you must continue to converse with me can you please do so WHILE you chew. I will not judge you for speaking with your mouth full. Not tonight. I just want to get home. I have been here for twelve hours.

Yes, it is possible that The Yankees will get the wild card. No, I am not a fan of the one-game wild card playoff, but, as you can see, I do not work for Major League Baseball. If only. Perhaps I will get on that tomorrow.

I am telepathically letting you know that if you order dessert I will have to reassess how nice you are. Can you sense the murderous thoughts that are creeping into my head? I have no shoelaces with which to fashion a garrote, but there is plenty of cutlery with which to do the job. (Wow, I really may have been a bad person in a past life!)

Luckily all of the dessert menus have been put to bed for the night. Stop looking around for them. It is not happening. You are going to ask me about dessert, aren’t you? You are.

We no longer have the brownie. (Thank God!) It was the only thing you liked? I’m sorry. Let me give you directions to Dairy Queen. They have a delicious brownie sundae. Yes, they’re still open for a few more minutes. If you hurry, you can make it. They are likely cleaned up, too, but I am sure that they will be just as excited to see you as I was. Please do not tell them I sent you. They like me up there. Let’s keep it that way.

Peace Out!

Small Town News: I Was Not In My Pajamas Chasing a Garbage Truck!

smalltownnewspajamasLiving in a small town can have its benefits. Everyone, pretty much, knows everyone else. Sometimes by name, sometimes just by face. As my daughter’s peers have aged I realize that I know a lot of faces, but am fuzzy on some of the names. I spent years volunteering in the school system and in town in one capacity or another. As a result, I know quite a few people here in Mayberry.

Admittedly, this can be annoying under certain circumstances, like when you are chasing the DPW truck and hauling your garbage can up the street whilst in your pajamas, and out of the clear blue you hear, “Hi, Mrs. D! How’s Fangette doing?” It is in these moments that you find yourself thinking, “Good Lord, do I look like I am any condition to hold a conversation?” But I still do. As I hand some young man my garbage can and thank him for holding the truck for my sorry ass, I say, “She’s doing just fine. Thanks for asking!” And then I skulk away before he has time to notice the condition of my hair (sticking straight up!) or my teeth (unbrushed!).

There are other situations, though, in which the whole, “Hey, I know her!” can come in handy; when it can get you out of a jam. Take today, for example.

Late this morning I was very nearly involved in fisticuffs with a well-dressed, but  ill-tempered man. Seriously, he appeared to be on the verge of, like the kids say, “throwing down” . This guy really needed to chill out, to put things in perspective. Luckily, while I can be a hothead myself, I chose to take the higher road with this insaniac — plus, as you shall see, he rather quickly and unexpectedly became outnumbered. (Don’t mess with a former PTO President in small town America, folks!)

The events that I am about to recount transpired as I was returning home from a job interview. I am happy to report that I am, once again, in possession of two jobs. Yay, me! Hopefully this one will be far less stressful than the one I just left. It’s a bartending gig and, as such, is far more in my comfort zone. As the entire interview was conducted in an elevator while standing up, I have a good vibe about the far more relaxed nature of this outfit. While this establishment is much fancier than the last place I worked — there are actual tablecloths in this joint — they seem to take themselves far less seriously.

Prior to stumbling upon my new employer in the elevator I was in the midst of several text conversations with people from my main job, mostly regarding shift switches and one concerning the proper etiquette for tipping furniture delivery people. I was eagerly waiting on one of my co-workers to get back to me regarding a shift for this evening, as there had been some confusion regarding this shift — confusion that had, up to that point, not been resolved to my satisfaction. I was still unsure — and had been for most of the week — whether or not I was supposed to work tonight.I don’t mind going to work, I do mind going to work for no reason.

As I got off of the bus my phone started binging — alerting me to the fact that I had received some new text messages. I took out my phone, planning to check the status of my messages as soon as I had cleared the upcoming driveway that was five feet away from me. Yes, my phone was in my hand. No, I was not looking at it or texting on it.

As I approached said driveway I noticed a car slowing down. I was uncertain whether or not the car was slowing down because the driver planned to pull into the driveway or if he or she was out for a Sunday drive. The driver had decided, for whatever reason, not to use a turn signal. Okay.

I decided that even if this person was planning to turn into the driveway, I still had enough time to clear it safely. The driver had other ideas. Instead of recognizing — based on the briskness of my pace — that I was doing my level best to get out of his way, he chose to speed up and try to beat me into the parking lot. When he realized that he needed to give me two more seconds to get out of his path he began to gesture wildly and make the “on the phone” gesture at me.

Let me reiterate that I was not on the phone. I was not even looking at the phone. I was holding my phone, but I was holding it at my side. It was practically resting on my thigh. So, his wild gestures, which included some angry pointing of his finger, kind of irked me.

I rolled my eyes at him and moved along. I just wanted to get home. Perhaps the fact that I had dared to roll my eyes at this maniac — a person who had just seconds before nearly mowed me down with his luxury car — is what got him hot under the collar. I will never know. Me? I was willing to let bygones be bygones. Honestly, I had already forgotten about it.

And then I noticed that he had jumped out of his car. And he was screaming. Frankly, I thought that he was on the phone. I may have rolled my eyes again as I thought, “What is this idiot going on about now? Who is he screaming at now?” And then it dawned on me: he was still screaming at little old me.

His arms were going a mile a minute, as was his mouth, and his face was beet red. Just as I was about to open my own mouth, a minivan pulled up next to me — a minivan that contained, oddly enough, a gaggle of young men. One of them rolled down the window and said, “Ma’am, is everything alright?”

I just had a second to register the appearance of the minivan when I realized that loony luxury car guy was about ten feet in front of me. I put up my hands in a “stop” motion and told him, “Sir, I don’t know what your problem is, but I am going to tell you right now that you had better ‘step off’ because if you think for one minute that you are going to intimidate me with your blustering and your hollering, you are out of your mind. Let me remind you that I am the pedestrian and that, as such, you must stop for me. End of story.”

He then began pointing at my purse or, more exactly, to a brown paper bag that was hanging out of my purse, while making a drinking motion with his hand to his mouth. I was completely and utterly confused by this.

I then heard a voice behind me. It was one of the young men from the minivan. It occurred to me that I knew him. He was a couple of years older than my daughter and while I could not tell you his name, I recognized him. It became obvious that he knew me, too.

This kid turned to the moron that was now quiet, but standing with his hands on his hips — as if he was waiting for me to say something to him, if I had to guess, I would say that he was waiting on an apology. (He may as well have been waiting for hell to freeze over.) That is when I realized that one of the young men was standing aside of me. He said, “Sir, I know this woman. I would suggest, if you would like to escape with your dignity and your nose intact, that you get the hell out of here because she will bury you.”

I burst out laughing. We all did. Well, the boys in the van and I did. Mr. Luxury Car turned on his heel and left, but not before he made a comment about women who wander the streets drunk before noon. Again, I was confused.

The young man, the one who clearly knew me, pointed to the brown bag hanging out of my purse. It was then when I realized that our excellent driver thought that I was carrying a bottle of booze in my purse. I reached into the bag and produced, for the boys and for the guy who had concluded that I was wandering around taking hits from a bottle of hootch, the ham and cheese sandwich that I was planning to eat for lunch. I held it aloft, you know, kind of like how John Cusack held the boom box over his head in “Say Anything”.

The kid just laughed some more and said, “Mrs. D., you have a great day. Would you like a ride home?” I said, “No, but thank you for coming to my rescue!” He told me it was his pleasure and, with that, the van sped off. And, yes, I noted that the driver signaled to the rest of the world his intention to pull on to the street. For the life of me I cannot put a name to the face of my rescuer or to any of the other inhabitants of the minivan.

It was a great small town moment that was made better by the fact that I was not in my pajamas chasing a garbage truck!

Every Woman Is Entitled To A Fantasy!

everywomanisentitledtoafantasyI have been forced to put some of the CITIES OF THE WORLD on notice. (Truthfully, most of them are just THE CITIES OF THE NORTHEASTERN UNITED STATES, but CITIES OF THE WORLD sounds much more dramatic, doesn’t it?) They have been judged and many have been found wanting.

For the record, I do not think that I am a harsh critic. I don’t require much in the way of creature comforts. In order for my stay to be comfortable, I do need some things. Who doesn’t need some things?

The first thing, the most obvious thing, is to procure a decent hotel room at a rate that does not require the hocking of my right arm. Most of the time this is not a Herculean task. After all, like most denizens of the western world I, too, have access to the internet and I am fully capable of using it.

I can almost always find a safe, clean place to lay my head at a reasonable price. What I have discovered — through the process of trial and error — is that all lodging is not created equal. You have to read the fine print and plan accordingly if you want to be happy with your choice of hotel room.

At the very least I require clean sheets. I would also like to feel safe from the odd drive-by shooting. Once that criteria has been met, there are other things that will encourage me to make a return visit to your facility and/or your city.

Wi-Fi access comes to mind. I want it IN my room, not just in the LOBBY, for heaven’s sakes! And I want it for FREE. Seriously, don’t your hotels have tablets, CITY? Don’t your citizens play games, check email, or just wander the World Wide Web before dropping off to sleep at night? And, really, who wants to see me traipsing about the lobby in my pajamas? No one, that’s who.

Let’s move on to coffee now because the availability of large quantities of this beverage (made just the way I like it!) is, after knowing that I won’t bring home bed bugs or be shot in my sleep, a very important factor in how much (or how little) I enjoy my stay. I like scenery as much as the next gal but, frankly, the only scenery I want to see dotting the landscape first thing in the morning is something familiar and just the right shade of green — a building with the Starbuck’s logo.

Don’t hand me this crap that there is Starbucks coffee in my room. If I wanted to make my own damn coffee I would have stayed home where the cleanliness of the sheets might be questionable, but where the coffee is always fresh and readily available.

In other words, CITY, I want a barista (or baristo, I don’t discriminate) to make me my coffee. I am a good guest. I don’t litter, keep my fellow visitors awake all hours of the night, or stiff the maid. I think I deserve, while I am gracing you with my presence (and giving you my hard-earned money), to have my coffee made for me.

It’s the little things, CITY. The big things don’t faze me. I can read a map or download an app for whatever sightseeing things your location has to offer. I can — and I have — figured out the New York City transportation system all on my own. If I can get to the outer boroughs from New Jersey using the subway it would stand to reason that your little burg won’t stymie me.

I am fully aware that I am biased. When the city by which you judge all other cities is Manhattan, it is difficult not to be biased.

It feels weird when visiting other cities —- cities that seemingly have never heard of capitalism — and there is no one trying to sell you water a street corner. A shish kebob or a knish would be far too much to hope for.

At the base of the Empire State Building there is not one, but two, Starbucks Coffee shops. This insures that no one need go to the top half-caffeinated or, God forbid, latte-less. Take note, OTHER CITIES. Please.

While I do not expect that sort of forward thinking to exist everywhere, it is nice to know that it exists somewhere. It has spoiled me, though, I will admit that. Other cities just don’t seem to fully grasp how those of us who are used to Manhattan are gobsmacked by what we view as poor planning and, I’m sorry to say, the complete and utter lack of initiative that passes for “business as usual” in other metropolitan areas.

I was once on The National Mall in Washington, D.C. It was 100 degrees and humid on the beautiful shores of the Potomac. I could see the Jefferson Memorial in the distance. What I couldn’t see was anyone selling a bottle of water. I couldn’t buy one for love or money. I was directed to a water fountain. A water fountain! If I’d had a cooler and a couple of cases of Poland Spring I could have made a mint that day. A mint!

Recently we found ourselves in Philadelphia. There was acceptable lodging with easy access to both Wi-Fi and a decent cup of coffee. (I made sure of that — thank you Google maps!) What there seemed to be a dearth of, though, was an adequate supply of ice cream. The availability of ice cream ranks high on the city judging scale.

I live in a small town and there are not one, but two, decent ice cream shops in walking distance from my house. I don’t think it’s a stretch to expect that one should be able to easily come by something as simple as a scoop of vanilla in a cone after dinner while strolling through a city.

We couldn’t, though. Even after consulting our smartphones, the best we were able to come up with was one of those “fill your own cup fro-yo” places. Let’s not even get into the fact that frozen yogurt is NOT ice cream. I don’t even find it to be an acceptable substitute, but when it’s the only port in the storm, I’ll take it. I don’t have to be happy about it, though.

A city loses big points when it cannot provide me with ice cream. Sorry, Philadelphia, but you lost major points there. Major points!

Honestly, I can’t wait to take my daughter back to school in Burlington, Vermont. For a small city they get it right. Not only can one easily find affordable accommodations, but these people love their coffee and their ice cream. I haven’t done the math, but I’ll bet that, per capita, they have as many Starbucks as Manhattan. As for ice cream, have you every heard of a little company called Ben & Jerry’s. Yup. They have those, too.

I may be visiting Montreal soon. I have this fantasy that involves crepes and room service. I have a dream that some enterprising French-Canadian hotelier will blow me away by offering me a luscious crepe filled with rich vanilla ice cream accompanied by a velvety latte delivered to my Wi-Fi enabled room. If they do, I promise not to spill any of it — not a drop — on their clean sheets. And, this should go without saying, they will be awarded a very high number of points. A very high number, indeed.

What can I say? Every woman is entitled to a fantasy.


photo credits: coffee, ice cream

Pipe Down!

pipedown


I have become a woman bothered by noise. The irony of this, taking into consideration that I am not what one would call “soft spoken” or “quiet”, is not lost on me. I am nothing if I am not self-aware.

I am the grumpy neighbor who throws open the window and shouts to no one in particular, “Pipe Down Over There, People!”. And then cannot understand why they don’t (or won’t). I could just step outside — like a normal person would — and request that they turn down the hip-hop or the salsa music, but that would require far too much human interaction and, you know, energy. Plus, I have never been accused of being a “normal person”. So there!

I am the irritated co-worker who has to yell to be heard and who, by doing so, adds to the cacophony by screaming at the top of her lungs, “Can You Please Be Quiet? I Can’t Hear Myself Think!”. I behave as if I am in the midst of thinking deep thoughts or solving problems of great magnitude instead of what I am actually doing, which is, more often than not, wondering what the hell I am doing occupying a particular space, puzzling over why I came into the kitchen in the first place. (Oh, yeah, table 12 needs their seventeenth Coke refill!)

I have been known to pick my head up during dinner at home to inquire “What Is All That Racket?” only to realize that “that racket” is the sound of children playing outside. Can’t they play indoors? Don’t they know it’s 6 PM? Where are their parents? What is going on in this neighborhood, anyway? It’s going to hell in a hand basket — a hand basket that is seemingly full of noisemakers — that’s what!

Don’t even get me started on landscapers. They are every suburbanite’s nightmare — the annoying equivalent to the city dweller’s jackhammer-wielding construction worker. What ever happened to raking leaves, anyway? Why must we blow them all over creation with a machine that reaches the same decibel level as a jet engine? And why must this be done at all hours of the day and night? Why? It’s like living in a wind tunnel.

And then there are the weekend warriors, those handy men and women who like to build things on their days off. The folks in my area must ALL have received table saws last Christmas. They’ve broken them out since the weather has warmed up.

What are they building, anyway? Shelves? My money is on shelves. People cannot have too many shelves. All that shrieking of wood against metal — the high-pitched sounds of doing — is enough to drive even the most complacent person up a wall. I am not the most complacent person. Can’t they just go to IKEA and buy their shelves? It’s as if I live amongst a bunch of lumberjacks. I may as well move to a logging camp!

Some days my husband, the much put-upon and beloved, Fang, comes home to discover that I am running every air conditioner in the house. He likes to point out that it is beautiful outside, that we are the only ones for miles around using their air conditioning on a balmy 60 degree humidity-free day.

“I know, ” I tell him, “but it blocks out the noise — the infernal, constant, mind-blowing noise!” Fang, when faced with a crazy woman who is throwing up her hands and carrying on about mowers, shelf builders, and hopscotch players, usually takes this opportunity to point out the flaw in my logic, which is that the air conditioning generates noise, too. “Yes, ” I tell him, “I know that. But it’s MY noise!”

Luckily, Fang is a kind and patient man. Rather than try to talk some sense into me, which would be futile, he just goes ahead and puts on a sweatshirt, turns on the Mets’ game, and joins me for dinner. The only noises we have to worry about are the sounds of each other chewing and the occasional crack of a ball hitting a bat. Those are noises that I can live with!

I Wrote a Rap Song

I wrote a rap songOf the most unlikely sentences that I could utter (or write), “I wrote a rap song” would surely make the Top Ten List — mine and everyone else’s. It’s true, though. I did.

We were joking around at work yesterday. How we managed to do that in the midst of the mayhem, I’ll never know. What can I say? Servers are a resourceful bunch.

In response to the anxiety that I felt as I was faced with a dozen tables scattered all over the restaurant, I started to formulate some song lyrics (or, as it’s known in the rap community — of which I now consider myself a member, albeit a fledgling member, but a member just the same — “laying down some bars”). Oddly enough, I found it therapeutic and more than just a little amusing. So did my coworkers.

I am unsure as to whether the humor they found in my running around trying to find words that rhymed with “hammer” had more to do with the juxtaposition of a middle-aged field hockey mom whose taste in music runs more along the lines of Jackson Browne than it does to Chris Brown or whether it was because they were stunned by my ability to punch out those words with the ferocity of an angry female hip-hopper. Either way, they seemed entertained.

Like any class clown worth her salt, I continued with my act. I have to admit that I was more than mildly distracted throughout the rest of my shift. I could not, no matter that I was faced with a severe wine glass shortage and a bar full of Merlot aficionados, to shrug off the idea that I should be writing this stuff down.

When I returned home, physically exhausted and mentally weary after my second twelve-hour shift in a row, I thought about doing just that. I opted, instead, as middle-aged women like me are wont to do, to don my flannel pajamas and allow my head to hit the pillow, rather than moving my fingers on a keyboard.

I slept fitfully. Words — many of them rhyming with “hammer” — kept awakening me.

The minute I rolled out of bed I poured myself a cup of coffee and headed for the computer. I really HAD to get these words down before they became confused and possibly jumbled up with other words like “dish detergent” or “greeting cards”. It was very likely that my synapses would misfire causing a mix-up to occur; I was gripped with the fear that failing to memorialize the lyrics would result in my finding myself in the home improvement store wondering what, exactly, I was doing in the tool aisle. It would not be the first time that I have been nagged by the vague notion that I was in need of a hammer.

Of places where and states of mind in which I can be found, “confoundedly wandering around the home improvement store” comes in just behind “standing in my kitchen wondering where my damn phone is” and “searching my pockets for where I put that twenty-dollar bill that I had in my hand five seconds ago.” Yeah. That is normally who I am, not someone in search of esoteric (and catchy) ways to say “prison”.

I did it, though. I thought it out and worked it up. I committed real words to virtual paper.

While I hesitate to share it here, not so much because I think it might actually be good enough for someone to want to record it (might any of you know the name of an up-and-coming female rapper?), but more because it may convince those of you who are on the fence about me that I am indeed just as batshit crazy as you suspected all along. I have decided to do it, anyway — share it with you.

I will also admit that there is a small part of me that worries that my husband might read this, might find me out. I find myself feeling a little guilty that I spent my day this way. I should be more productive on my day off. I should be cooking, cleaning, or doing laundry instead of wasting my time tapping into the nascent and heretofore unacknowledged lyricist persona (this is how I think of myself now). In other words, I should have something far more concrete to show for the energy that I expended working up a rap song that no one will ever hear. By “more concrete”, of course I mean figuring out dinner or making the bed. I could not seem to help myself, though.

Like all great artists who must divide their time between menial household chores and moments of clarity, most of them, one would imagine, artists of the female variety, I will wrestle with my guilt later. For now, and for what it’s worth, this is the result of my sleepless night and a morning spent not mopping the kitchen floor. I kind of like it. I think it was worth it. There will always be something to clean, but how often do fits of genius that require bursts of creativity occur? Not very often.

Tell me what you think! Should I be working on my rap name? Ordering oversized jewelry? Picking out my grillz? Working phrases like, “Word Up!” into conversations?


NOBODY’S BITCH

No disrespect to Mr. Seeger

Promotin’ tools for higher causes

Me? I’m just a bit beleaguered

Trying hard just to please the bosses

(Everybody’s bitch)
If I had a hammer

I’d like destroy

In the slammer

That’s where I’d toil

(Everybody’s bitch)
Spittin’ down different bars than these

Burnin’ my time

(Ain’t no hitch)

Gettin’ round off that gov’ment cheese

Burnin’ my time

(Still somebody’s bitch)
Playin’ for cigs and swapping tales

Course there’s always a glitch

My luck I’d draw laundry detail

Different venue, same travail

(Still everybody’s bitch)

(Everybody’s bitch)

Think your life is yours

Not unless you’re Oprah, hon

Otherwise, it’s smoke and mirrors

No money in the bank when it’s said and done

(Everybody’s bitch)

Someday I may be

Spittin’ down different bars than these

Burnin’ my time

(Less I strike it rich)

Gettin’ round off that gov’ment cheese

Burnin’ my time

(Still somebody’s bitch)

Free will is overrated

An illusion designed to keep us humble

Abbreviated

We’re all one step away from the tumble

(Everybody’s bitch)
I’ll leave you this

Go ahead and throw your pitch

The best laid plans

Of mice and women

Thwarted by unseen hands

And what might have been

If I weren’t

Just

Everybody’s bitch

(Everybody’s bitch)

Break out the mold

Spit down different bars than these

Let your rounds be hoops of gold

Burn your time scratchin’ your own itch

Don’t get old

Being everybody’s bitch

(Everybody’s bitch)
Pin it on your heart

As your feet hit the floor

Today’s the start

Don’t take no more

(Nobody’s bitch)

Get schooled by me

So you don’t have to be

Anybody’s bitch

(Nobody’s bitch)

(Nobody’s bitch)

Written by Jacqueline Tierney-DeMuro

2/25/15

(Take that, bitches!)