Pardon? What’s that you say? I’m sorry, I cannot hear you. You see, I catered a Quinceañera the other night and don’t remember if it was the Ranchero band’s trumpet player, or the lime green-ostrich leather elfin cowboy boot (with matching belt) that punctured my right ear drum. I also sustained serious psychological trauma, so please, speak loudly through the glass and into my left ear. Thank you.
***CAUTION: The following content is of crude and wanton nature. Please be seated, have parental/spousal supervision and keep a stiff drink beside you. Reader discretion is advised.***
My therapist says I should always start from the beginning:
My restaurant recently agreed to help out another business in town with a little predicament: loss of a liquor license. It’s not an indefinite dilemma, simply the result of faulty paperwork resulting in a period of time whereby this particular establishment, has no liquor license. To assist in such a pinch, my boss- a kind-hearted and good willed man- loaned his picnic liquor license to the cause. This means that at least one of our bartenders must be present at all times. I was one of the lucky ones to help out in this act of philanthropy.
What did I get in return? Physical tourrettes, inexplicable crying fits, jaw-drop (prompted by a visual cue), borderline schizofrenic-paranoia, and I have chewed through my finger and toe nails. The worst part? This wasn’t just a one time deal. I have worked three of these and there are (hopefully only) 5 more to go. I’ve started to pull out my hair and can’t seem to get my eyes to stop bulging.
Ready or not, here we WHORE! I mean, go:
I never know what kind of event I am catering, until I arrive at the establishment. On this particular occasion, it happened to be a Quinceañera. Having lived for quite some time in Latin America, I attended many a Quinceañera. That being said, I was quite excited about bartending for this event.
For those of you unfamiliar with a Quinceañera, it is essentially the Latin American version of a debutant ball. A girl, on her 15th birthday, becomes a lady and is introduced to a society of potential suitors. There’s food, drink, dance and a special dance for the Quinceañera with a few the hand selected prospects. A classy affair…typically.
I walked into the grand ballroom and stopped dead in my tracks, nearly certain that I had mistakenly walked into Barney’s colon. It was wall to wall and ceiling to floor, purple. Not even different hues of purple, but Barney the goddamn dinosaur, purple. Everywhere.
The manager of the establishment snapped me out of my catatonia and led me to the bar. I slowly set up the bar as I watched the ballroom somehow accumulate more purple decor. A purple stenciled light shown on the dance floor with the Quinceañera’s
initials. A projector screen adjusted the focus of a photo, with a purple-flowered border. Purple cocktail napkins with a photo of the Quinceañera’s face and birth date, were handed to me. Purple feather boas wired into hearts were placed as centerpieces on the already purple satin table cloths, and in the corner, a purple spotlight shown on the band doing their sound checks. Short of serving “purple drink” as the signature cocktail, I was certain that the Quinceañera was Violet Beauregarde, from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
The Quinceañera arrived and to my complete and utter disappointment, she was just a girl from the south valley.
Traditionally, the Quinceañera wears a white dress; a sort of audition for a wedding dress. She wore a white-ruffled cream puff lined with purple satin and carried the theme of the room on her upper eyelids, electric purple (to set off the color of royal purple no doubt). Her eyebrows were painted on and her (with at least a foot of extensions) was nearly scotch-guarded in perfect curls, revealing the evident use of a single-barrel curling iron. Corset in place, her premature b-cup cleavage was over-shadowed by the slump of her shoulders. Clearly, the poor girl had never shown that much skin before and was uncomfortable exposing it.
To my surprise, the guests were arriving quickly and the band was still doing sound checks. Given their attire- tight white cargo pants, white cowboy shirts, purple cowboy hats (as per the Quinceañera I’m sure) and punctuated with rhinestone belts and cowboy boots- I gathered that a Ranchero band was hired for the evening. The band posed and adjusted the spotlights to ensure that the glimmer of the rhinestones was maximized. When the light was just right, they stood in Magnum PI fashion and had one of the servers take a photo. “Aye si huevon! I’m putting it ahora directo en el Facebook. No mames, guey!”
The food was placed in chafing dishes and the guests were lining up. They lined up, sat down, ate and served themselves thirds before the band was through sound checking. No one seemed to mind, but I couldn’t help mentally reiterating the amount the event cost: $14,000. For a band that was sound-checking throughout dinner and a cash bar? No, thank you.
The band finally started as the buffet was broken down. For the amount of time it took them to set up, I assumed I was in for a real treat. An import of Grammy caliber Ranchero straight from Guadalajara! Again, to my disappointment, they were from the south valley too. Their trumpets began, and the keyboardist started pounding on the keys like a toddler. How horrible they were wasn’t nearly as shocking as how loud they were. My hair was originally straight and down, and somehow was now in a wind tunnel, blown straight back. The saxophonist picked up his instrument, played about 5 notes and set it down. What happened next is arguably the tap-root to my current diagnosable situation.
My eyes squinted as I tried to watch the band. I struggled with a glaring light that I couldn’t seem to avoid. The bartender I was working with that night pinpointed the source at the same time I did, and both of our jaws, dropped. The saxophonist had pulled his pants up making the bulge of his pants, more noticeable. He was jumping up and down while hyper air-humping and grinding upon a stuffed-animal horse. Sweating profusely, he reached for a towel and wiped his sexually generated sweat off his face. The saxophonist then picked up a glass of what was sure to be cocaine-infused spanish fly, drank it all, and continued molesting the stuffed-animal horse.
I was snapped out of my disgust by a dozen boys asking for “eshirley tamples”. As I poured out half a bottle of grenadine into six glasses, I observed the youth’s attire. At first, I thought that they too were with the band. They all wore elaborately embroidered cowboy shirts with jeans so tight, they could be considered jeggings. For those wearing cowboy hats, they always matched their belts and cowboy boots. Mostly ostrich leather in naturally occurring colors like neon pink, sky blue and lime green.
But these cowboy boots weren’t made for walking, but skiing. Their toes must have only reached the first third of the boot, and the remaining two-thirds resembled an elfin-shoe designer line, jetting out and curling back over the foot. Short of the bell dangling from the tip, I was certain that these were Mexican elves.
The saxophonists visual raping subsided and they announced the Quinceañera’s dance. Brassy Mexican ballads thundered out of the speakers as the purple cream puff was escorted by six boys in (you guessed it) purple zoot suits. The chains from their belts clinked together as they each awkwardly danced the Quinceañera around the dance floor. Suddenly, the music stopped and the Quinceañera ripped off her dress, revealing a glorified negligee as a dozen men rushed the floor breaking into a choreographed dance number to “Lean Like a Cholo”.
I couldn’t believe how sexual a 15th birthday party was becoming. No one would believe me- I needed witnesses. I quickly text my fiance and one of my best friends and urged that they rush down here, sign the guest book and crash this Quinceañera. I sent the text shortly before I dropped my phone in sheer horror.
They were entering by the dozens. Escorts. I didn’t think that this was part of the tradition, but perhaps a family touch? Dozens of these escorts in mini skirts and tiny shirts, fish net stalkings and red faux-suede platform ankle boots, were making their way in. The unmistakable reek of cheap perfume flooded the room with notes of Aquanet radiating from their bump-it hairdos. I took a step back as one approached my bar. She leaned in and asked for a “eshirley tample”. It was only then, did my horror evolve into atrocity when I realized that these weren’t escorts, but 14-15 year old girls.
I looked around to find that they were all linked up with the elfin cowboys; some their fathers, others their crushes and nearly certain that in some cases, both. The microphone fed-back a nasty shrill, accompanied by an accordion to grasp the attention of the now 300 person audience. The spanish cowboy jumped about the stage as the rest of the band searched for the Quinceañera
for “algo especial”. They placed a chair (yes, a purple one), in the center of the dance floor as the band members surrounded her.
The sexually charged band member jumped off the stage and air-humped his way over to the Quinceañera. He signaled for the DJ to play a song, and before I knew it he had his cowboy heels on her shoulders, thrusting his junk closer and closer to her face. He did a flip and stepped to the side to let the next band member put his member directly on her chest, as the other two band members dipped the chair backward. Just in time to share my trauma, my fiance and best friend showed up stopping dead in their tracks.
My co-worker, fiance, best friend and I stood in silence. What we were witnessing resembled a show in Vegas for a bachelorette more so than an adolescent birthday party. Our jaws dropped in complete shock and to our horror, were the parents of Quinceañera clapping and laughing. Where were we? Surely there were candid cameras in the corners, but where? In the purple chandelier? Or perhaps the band’s rhinestone belts were actually micro cameras because this couldn’t be real.
The band got louder, the attendees got younger and the girls’ dresses got tighter and mysteriously shorter. I looked around the room to find that there were now 8 security guards. One of them was standing next to me at the bar and was radioed a message. He quickly abandoned his station and bolted to the kitchen returning with latex gloves, two security guards following suit. They dashed out the side door and I popped my head out to see what all the commotion was about. The door opened up to the side of the building where the band’s massive tour bus was parked (it too adorned with rhinestone accessories), and in the distance I saw what looked like low flying shooting stars, jetting across the parking lot.
“What’s going on over there?” I asked a security guard standing at the side door.
“Panties, all kinds-” he responded.
“Panties? As in under ware?” I asked.
“Yup. Mad panties being thrown over there.”
Dios. Fucking. Mio. Fourteen and 15-year-old girls were taking off their panties and flinging them across the parking lot! One security came running towards us, his hands full with glittery thongs.
I popped back inside to find the band was still molesting the stuffed animal horse, and decided it was time to break down. About 20 minutes premature, but after being visually accosted, psychologically degraded and throughly shocked to my core, it wasn’t for a few more “eshirley tamples” and a collective $10 in tips, that was going to make our night worthwhile. My fiance and best friend left (encountering their own cultural experience upon their exit) and my coworker and I closed down the bar single-handedly; one hand plugging an ear and the other packing up bottles.
My vision began to blur as the bass got louder, the reek of Aquanet got stronger and the tension of brimming adolescent sexuality flooded the room. I loaded up a cart full of boxes and made my way through the teenage crowd trying not to accidentally catch a glimpse at a butt cheek pouring out a skirt, or an elfin cowboy boot in the eye. After signing off on inventory, I walked to my car and sat in silence for a solid 20 minutes. My hands were white from how tightly I was holding myself and the leather seats creaked with my uncontrollable rocking. I couldn’t hear anything but the yips and cries of the band, and the thumping bass that I am sure my heart now erratically beats to (furthering my current anxiety).
All I could think about was reenacting Jim Carrey’s shower scene in Ace Ventura: burning my uniform whilst taking a hot shower (in acetone) desperately plunging at my eyes, for they have seen too much. I felt fragile, vulnerable and just putrid. That night, I lost part of my soul.
I drove away in deep thought, wondering what the same group of girls might be expecting 9 months from now.
For a musical understanding of the demographic I was up against, watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ttqjhBijI8