It’s seemingly a pre-requisite at my restaurant, that when applying for a dishwashing position one must be either an ex-convict or speak only Spanish. In this particular case, the dishwashing duo I coined “Tweedle-Que” and “Tweedle-Guey” were only Spanish speakers. Tweedle Que was from Cuba and had officially smoked himself into the oblivion. The only time you would ever here him speak, was in reference to which woman he thought was the hottest; and the only rise that ever came of him (I’m sure) was in direct correlation to the former thought.
Tweedle-Guey however, was of Mexican decent and always had something to say and more often than not, spoke on behalf of Tweedle-Que. Although he spoke (seemingly without stop), it too was only about women and the various positions he’s had, or was going to have them in. The combination of the two together simply made your ears rot; though they never knew I understood what they were saying as I was only a “spoiled little white girl.” Their thoughts of me (and certainly their words) were soon about to change.
Although the story you are about to read happened a few years ago, it remains legendary to those who were there that night. It still remains ever-so vivid in my mind as Bob Ballard’s memories do in Sebastian Yunger’s “The Perfect Storm.” This night was indeed, the perfect shit storm or what is forever known as, “La Tormenta Perfecta de Mierda.”
It was a Saturday night in the restaurant and a plethora of factors led to our inundation of people in the restaurant. Two conventions, the premiere of a musical, a big blockbuster at the theater and just Saturday night. It was about 8:00p.m. when I was taking an appetizer order and the (god-forsaken) mussels were ordered. I swiftly dropped the appetizer order into the basket and zipped off to retrieve bread and butter. We were slammed beyond reason, but oddly the night was going smoothly. This was the calm before the storm.
I cleared plates off of one table and brought them into the dish-pit where low and behold, the Tweedles were gossiping (loudly) over the brassy speakers blarring reggaeton. As tradition should have it, I walked in and the comments started.
“Guey, have you seen the tits on the bartender?”
“Oh yeah- I would knock out teeth just to…”
Let your imaginations run wild as to how he finished that sentence. I shook my head and ran out to the bar.
On my way, I realized that my order of mussels were taking remarkably long. I looked at the clock and it had been nearly 25 minutes since I had dropped the ticket. I went over to the table, apologized for the wait and assured the table that I was en route to investigate. I walked up to the open kitchen line and peered over to find our appetizer cook for the evening whose name I will not mention, but we will call him the Catalyst.
Now, the Catalyst and I had worked together briefly at another restaurant run by a seriously harsh, but culinarily talented lesbian. Despite her absolute stringent nature (and personality of a shovel), for whatever reason, she took a liking to me. This of course urked the Catalyst, starting this terribly passive-aggresive, yet humorous way about him towards me. Seeing him now behind the line, in a high volume restaurant sent him into a hell-bound panic, and let’s just say the Catalyst couldn’t keep up. Let it also be known that the Catalyst was also the most raging bitch of a queen I have met to date.. Although he wore pants, on this night, his thong was on backwards and far too tight.
As I began to inquire about the whereabouts of my mussels, he spun around covered in garnish and dressing adjusting his designer bandana and barked, “WHAT?!” I was already in a mood. The restaurant was brimming like an African city bus, I had run eight suicide laps around the restaurant, my throat was parched with thirst and my appetizers were taking an eternity. My few minutes of sanity that I can usually seek in the dish-pit were stripped from me and my claws, were about to lunge forth like Wolverine.
“What do you mean ‘what?!’ where’s my order of mussels for 72? I dropped the ticket 37, no- 38 minutes ago!”
Steam poured out his nose as he adujsted his designer bandana once more. He popped his elbow up holding a ladle dripping with balsamic vinaigrette that trailed all over his chef coat. His glasses slid to the bottom of his nose as he furrowed his perfectly manicured brow and catwalked over to the line.
“Listen bartendressssss-” he hissed, “I have tickets up here back up to fucking Milan and yours will come up, when it comes up!”
Having seen a ticket stabbed on our ticket skewer that read “mussels” and marked after mine, my blood began to simmer. Those were my mussels! I wasn’t leaving the line until I got my order of mussels for this god-damn table. I could hear the bar printer going out of control with orders coming in, the music had stopped as the album had run its course and I was camping out at the line starring the Catalyst down.
“The mussels. Now.” I calmly demanded.
Thus unfolded the cattiest maneuver I have ever been privy to experience first hand:
The Catalyst throws the dressing ladle over the the hot side of the kitchen like a javelin, grabs a fist full of mussels and throws them into a rolling boil of broth. He jerks the pan back and forth across the flame and with a hand ridden with gorgonzola crumbles grabs a serving bowl, plunges his hand in the minced parsley and stomps over to me.
As he approaches the line, his nostrils flaring like an angered bull, he lifts the bowl of mussels above his head and says, “Hear, hussy!” and proceeds to drop the bowl of mussels in scalding hot broth down onto the line, spilling everywhere. It causing a flash flood directly onto my chest and down onto the shelves where all of the charger-plates and doilies for the appetizers and soups were kept. Everything was now dirty and my chest was on fire. Before I could jump the line and beat him with a frying pan into submission, I had armloads of plates and bowls streaming with broth and was making my way to the dish pit. A busser was behind me with an equal load eager to know what had just happened.
I kicked the door to the dish pit open, soggy-chested, which only prompted an explosive sordid banter between Tweedle-Que and Tweedle Guey.
“Aye, mamita!” they started. They began talking about how God had smiled upon them to present me, soggy chested in a white collared shirt, to them in the dish pit slaving away. It was a comment related to that particular conversation when Pandora’s box burst open.
Now, in all my years in the restaurant, I have never raised my voice in anger at anyone. Actually, in general I am quite a soft-spoken person. Few people on this planet can bring out my Medusa side, and that night I added another two to the list. Although they were not the direct reason for my rabid fury, but I had endured months and months of their single-tracked banters that were seemingly always at my bosom’s expense. I was at maximum bullshit capacity.
Covered in seafood broth, parsley bits in my hair and my wrist that was about to snap off due to the metric ton of ceramic it had just supported, I proceeded to utter the most foul words that have ever come out of my mouth. My tongue split and I hissed a decent two minute long rant, denouncing their very existence to that lower than parasite in society. The actual transcript I will not reveal, for there is no rating for such a flagrant monologue, and no need to repeat it to understand the gravity of the situation. Their reaction however…priceless.
Time stood still. The Tweedles and my busser were in complete and utter shock. Although the busser had no clue what I had just said, the Tweedles understood every verbal umbrage directed toward them. The Tweedles were in mid-washing when my “Ode to the Tweedles” began, and everything was now on the floor. Water was pouring out of the faucet into a full sink that was now streaming onto the floor. Soap suds were billowing up like cumulus clouds and the Tweedles had every physical position short of holding each other, illustrating their fearful surprise.
I stormed out of the dish pit and tended to my eternal drink tickets and started angrily shaking martinis. Martinis since, have never been so cold.
The night ended, the boss caught wind of the incident and shortly there after fired the Catalyst. I was drinking a scotch on the rocks while breaking down my bar and filling a bus tub with dishes. Once full, I walked back to the dish pit to find the Tweedles wincing at my presence.
“Now, don’t be so harsh- you usually greet me with such lovely complements.” I said.
The two looked at each other and collectively apologized. They stammered as they asked where I had not only learned fluent Spanish, but dirty street Spanish as well.
“My nanny was from Chihuahua, Mexico. It was my first language.”