Thursday, October 29, 2009

Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Pass Go

Back in the 80's, I spent 5 years in the employ of Uncle Sam in the United States Air Force. It was a time of discovery, a time of travel, and a time when I found out how much I was valued by my country. Those 5 years were the best years of my life and the worst.

I was what many would call a "late bloomer" in high school. Or some would call just confused. Very likely, I was just ignorant. Ignorant to the feelings I had towards those I should be attracted to, and to those I really gravitated to. I tended to veer toward the fringe, even though they were considered the outcasts. I played football and tennis, but felt more comfortable with the Drama Geeks. I felt more comfortable with the geeks, but was accepted with the "in crowd" because I was masculine, the token "Yankee", and could hang with any crowd. I sang in the church youth choir and smoked weed with my mother and stepfather. Not to mention that this was in the heart of Mississippi in the 1970's. There were not many role models parading around the town square with rainbow flags or ass-less chaps. Or if there were, they disappeared before anyone could see them. I certainly didn't see them. Or even know they existed. This was before Ellen, Three's Company, and Will and Grace. By a decade or three.

By the time I enlisted in the Air Force, I had been with one girl and one man. The girl was my high school sweetheart and we were together almost all four years of high school. Only there was no sex, just some sweaty panting in the back of my Vega station wagon and lots of making out (Thank God, she was just looking for a way out of her 500 pound mom's house). The man was a friend of my aunt's. We hooked up after a long night of partying and we were the only ones still awake at 6am, playing card and footsy. Must have been some good speed or something. I blamed it on the drugs, but it felt so right. So, I entered the military not really knowing my sexuality, so I wasn't really enlisting under false pretenses. I was "uncommitted", "Independant", "Bipartisan". Or so I thought. And I really didn't give it much thought.

And then I was stationed in Europe. And things changed. Slowly, but change happened.

(To Be Continued)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Nightmare Returns

Thursday morning found me waking up covered in sweat and breathing heavily. My heart was pumping oceans of blood every second. I haven't had this dream in years, but it instills fear in me like no other. Several happenings over the course of the week conspired to re-form the old nightmare in my subconscious mind.

Wednesday night found me watching my must-see program, Top Chef. The episode airing this week is always my favorite of the series, Restaurant Wars. Those who have opened a brand new restaurant on little sleep, with high pressure bosses, in the shortest period of time possible, can attest to what goes on. Many, many hours. Alcohol flowing at the end of the long night reviewing what went right and what went horribly wrong. Lists on top of lists of what is still undone. All leading up to that moment when the doors open and customers stream in to a sparkling clean and perfectly set dining room filled with shaky employees and managers chewing Pepto tabs by the handful. It all comes back to me every time.

Last Friday was another encounter with my ex-boss. He called our store at 4:45 pm wanting to know if someone would bring four cases of glasses to them. The guy taking the call turned and looked at me while saying, "Let me call you back". They do this to me every time. "It's on your way home". "They're a big customer". "Maybe you'll get a free meal out of it". BIG SIGH. Even though all I wanted to do was go home and fix a giant cocktail, I agreed.

Tuesday at work, one of our customers, an Italian "Grille" owner, came in and was talking about what a hard time he was having with his staff. His restaurant was just recently opened and his servers didn't know the menu, and were lazy and unprofessional. Even though he had spent a "whole two days" training them.

Which all led to my nightmare....

I was a cocky, experienced server who was recruited to help open this new Italian restaurant. In my head, I knew that I knew more than the owner, and we were butting heads over assorted matters. I was also arguing with the manager, who I knew that I knew more than. It became too much and I walked out in a huff, flinging my bistro apron in the air with a flourish.

The morning of the opening, I get a frantic phone call from the owner begging me to come back. The other servers he hired were worthless and he needed someone with experience to help him out. For some reason I agreed to and showed up one hour before opening. The manager was frantically trying to catch me up on the menu and steps of service. Everyone was running around with horrified looks on their faces and a line was forming outside the doors.

When the doors were opened, customers streamed into the restaurant and proceeded to fill every table. And there was no table chart. I looked down and realized that I had no apron. Worse yet was every server's worst nightmare. I HAD NO PENS!!!

Which was when I woke up, thankful in the knowledge that it was only a dream.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Get a Clue

At least once a week, some poor soul walks into our store with an awe-struck look and a spiral binder. These are people who have the mis-guided dream of opening their own restaurant. They either have the "best recipe ever" for pulled pork, or are looking to supplant their retirement with income from a concession stand. Today, we had TWO within an hour of each other.

Their first question is always, "Where's the used equipment?"

To which we answer, "We try to stay far, far away from the used stuff."

Then, they go over their list of stuff they need and want price quotes for them. By tomorrow. For a place they may or may not open within a year. Our next questions are always, "Do you have a location in mind?" "Does it have a hood system in place?" "Is the site plumbed for gas or wired for 208 volts?"

The next inquiry should be, "Have you had your head examined?" or "How much of your life are you willing to give up to break even your first year if you're lucky?" or "Do you have any idea what it takes to run a restaurant?" or "Are you Nucking Futs?"

These people have no idea what the difference is between a high-temp or low-temp dishwasher is. Or what a 1/6th pan is. Or if they need a hood system over their gas 10,000 BTU deep fryer.

I'm tired of teaching these people the rules only to be castigated over the cost of a convection oven. Some do minimal research over the Internet into the cost of equipment, yet do no research into the hours necessary to run a place. Yet they want me to spend hours putting together a quote on equipment they will never be able to afford. For a restaurant they will never get the financing for. And are unwilling to spend the time to run.

And, oh yeah, can you give me directions to the place that sells used equipment? Yeah. Take a right on Bite My Ass Avenue and drive until you pass Up Yours Boulevard. It's right next to Delusional Depot.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The "Enlightened South"

When I first chose the Panhandle of Florida as my "final destination", I figured being on the coast in a highly-touted tourist destination would afford me a home with a little taste. A little discernment. A higher level of sophistication than the rest of the South I came to know growing up in the middle of Mississippi. Oh, how wrong I was.

I've become something of a Masochist by reading the letters to the editor and the comments to those letters in the daily paper via If you really want to know what's happening in your community, you read what people write into the paper. And it's a real eye-opener. Below are a few quotes, verbatim, from this last week. These snippets will let you know what I have to put up with on a daily basis:

As for the war of Northern Aggression, the wrong side won and therefore did not get to write the true history. And BTW, I was born and raised in the Northeast but now re-educated.

The commies in the ACLU should be lined up against a wall and shot.

Here's another oxymoron for you morons. EVOLUTIONARY SCIENCE!


What's the difference between Obama and Hitler? Hitler GOT the Olympics!

Afghanistan is now Barry's war

...and no valid birth certificate...

Dingle Barry sat on his thumbs and "evaluted" [sic]...meanwhile people died!!!!!!!

I don't understand why insurance reform has to come with a "public option" and all the other nonsense. All I want is a fair coverage without loopholes for a fair cost.

...the REAL news organizations like FOX News and

So there ya go. The level of sophistication is right up there with Selma, Alabama, circa 1960. Back then, the bad guys were the Democrats with George Wallace the spear-carrier. My, how things have changed. It's like the Republicans and Democrats went into the way-back machine and came out opposite the way they went in.

Beav, we're in for a long fight.

Friday, October 2, 2009


Today at work, a co-worker, Ditto-Head (DH), who I've written about before, came flouncing out of his office all a-twitter. He is, as all 3 of you who follow my blog knows, a raving right-winger. He had such great news. "Chicago lost the Olympics, Ha Ha, Obama struck out after spending all that money to fly to Denmark!"

An American city lost millions of dollars in potential income and untold jobs and he's ecstatic. Because a President he despises supported it. I turned to my co-worker, who is another right-winger and Chicago native and said, "I just don't understand someone who would rather see America go down in flames than see it succeed under a President he despises." Even he shook his head and said, "That's the way he was raised."

All this negativity. All for revenge. People like him, thankfully, are a small but vocal minority. But, they are all you hear on local talk radio, since Progressive talk is but a few scant hours each week here in the Panhandle of Florida.

This region has had an unfortunate amount of publicity lately, what with the stories of a Pace High School principal brought up on charges of pushing prayer to a captive audience. Luckily, that's pretty much limited to the north side of the county I live in. They're pretty isolated up there from the real world. If you're not a Baptist Bible-thumper, then you're an interloper and not welcome. They don't call it L.A. (Lower Alabama) for no reason.

I'm not saying those who choose to live there are not inherently good people. I'm just saying that when you drive Hwy 90 through Pace and Milton, the banjo music from Deliverance echos off of all the Baptist churches in town. There's a reason that alcohol is not allowed to be sold in northern Santa Rosa county on Sundays. Attendance and tithing would be way lower, I'm sure, if it were allowed. I know that there are very few nice restaurants in the area, since Sunday is a big money-maker for nice restaurants that offer wine and other drinks everywhere else in the country. In restaurants that I've worked in, Sunday is the third busiest day of the week. Not so much here.

I've commented before on the AM talk radio station there, WEBY 1330. Because of their support, a principal of Pace High School raised over $70,000 for his defense when he was found guilty of ignoring a court order to stop forcing prayer at a school sponsored event. I'm sure he will be a future Republican nominee for some political office. And I'm also sure, he will be a shoe-in there.

I just cannot wrap my head around how people would rather see our country suffer than to support our President in these tough times. Which was inherited from the previous administration. Who get no blame. Selective amnesia for the masses. Brought to you by Fox, Rush, Hannity, Beck, O'Reilly, and the rest of "The Fourth Reich" who wish to over-throw our duly elected President from their plantation mind-set.