It’s consumption that consumes me…

     It’s my only full day off of the week and the baby is napping peacefully upstairs while my wife is  preoccupied by some crafting project for our boy’s first birthday party. And where do I find myself during that sacred window of quiet free time? Well in my kitchen, of course! It’s a place of comfort for me i guess, as it is for many. But i’m always in and out of a kitchen at home and moreso at work. I just can’t ever be too far from food and what’s needed to prepare it I guess. Ha. I had to take a step back to realize that I am always preoccupied by consumption of one kind or another. My work finds me constantly staring at people while they eat and drink, some of them with horrible table manners, and I’m okay with it for some reason. And while constantly running from table to table to kitchen and back to dining room, in the back of my mind I’m always strategizing when I can steal another sip of my coffee (or in the past a quick smoke. i miss those moments at times!) or sneak in some lunch and later maybe a small dinner for myself. 

      I catch myself sharpening a few of my knives while waiting for coffee to brew and pondering what I should make for dinner later this evening.  Without getting too introspective, what is this passive preoccupation with consumption that rules my life? I don’t know, but I can’t wait to chug some beers later. Haha. Ahhh, and that fresh pot of coffee is ready for me to drain. It’s a small batch of locally roasted Viennese Columbian from the Baltimore Coffee Company to be exact. *gulp* Another cup please.

     So, while millions of others around the world enjoy another Tuesday night dinner with chopsticks sticking out of their Chinese takeout box watching the anticipated oh-so-exciting edition of (cue Ryan Seacrest) “This is American Idol”, I will be putting my newly honed knives’ edges to work  filling my precious time preparing a delicious gourmet dinner, while consuming many beers and probably a nice glass of wine with my wife of course.  

     And tomorrow is yet another day sure to be filled with many sips and bites.

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Strung Out in Atlantic City…Valentine’s Day 2011

     It’s Monday, the last day of my work week, and I am dragging ass. Aaaand it just so happens to also be beloved St. Valentine’s Day. Joy! But I’m feeling good because this seems to be a very appropriate time for me to start writing. It has been a long week and I, among others (confirmed by “ugh, i can’t wait to go on my spring break Caribbean cruise”), am not looking forward to the dinner service ahead of me. And, yes, I am already planning when my feet hit the sand too! 

     Oh sweet, romantic Valentine’s Day…It’s so fun to see our tables hold hands and smooching so lovey-dovey, or witnessing  the squeeky ones looking so nervous and sweating bullets next to the one they long to be with. I, we,  take care of the masses here and Valentines Day is one of the few days of the year that we can all safely call amateur hour… others to be included in such a catgory are Mother’s Day, Prom and Homecoming Nights (btw I wish i could take off that whole week!), Christmas eve and yes most Saturday nights. 

     The dining room fills with people we don’t at all recognize. Or I greet tables I haven’t seen in months, but know well  enough to at least shake hands with and ask them how things have been…And of course i ask where they have been and add that there is no excuse for their extended absence! Ha.

     Tonight is a night sure to be filled with horrid public displays of affection narrated by the swooning vibrato of the one and only Andrea Bocelli rattling the speakers above. I am sure to see the bitter and single i-hate-men ladies, the middle aged rekindling their passions, and let’s not forget to mention the often seen and way too obvious cheaters who whisper face to face like high school lovers, make me puke! (beer break)    

     Dinner went as expected, seemless and busy! Actually, we were crazy busy. Why, I don’t know, but I see more than a fair share of crazy shit in the dining room. Tonight alone: an older dad literally dragged his enraged and curse-spitting son from their table (which sits inches from others having romantic Vday dates) as dad was being screamed at and punched by the ten or so year old boy! They left without ordering.  

     And then there’s that guy! Oh yeah, I remember you. One of my last few tables is an unassuming, thirty-something odd couple who fit the bill of the 4 times a year regulars. i know and remember them and they remember me, and act to know me. Many do feel as if they can get close to me because they have a 85% chance of seeing me when they eat in my restaurant. Well, what the aforementioned goofs don’t realize is that they turn into an instant topic of conversation when they walk in the restaurant…the ultimate od couple, they must have met a a used book store or something.  There’s got to be more to the story than we know. In the past they have  usually come in late and I almost always take care of them. Tonight they ate well,  and they had coffee and hung out for a bit after they were done. We get to talking as I bring them their check and they recall that i got married a few years back. Then I mention to the guy, “Hey, do you remember when I saw you in Atlantic City randomly like 3 years ago?” His wife’s eyebrows raise and her mouth mashes with irritation. He asks “Uh what was I doing there?” (insert nervous chuckle) I remind him that I almost walked right by without noticing him except that what caught my attention was the fact that some guy,this guy, was teetering on the edge of his seat with his face inches from a video poker machine. “Uh, yeah I used to play a little poker”, he tells me. His wife is looking a little pissed at this point. I continue to ask if he recalls himself pacing back and forth nervously in the valet drop-off area outside the casino about three hours later then asking me for a ride back home, which is over 3 hours away from Atlantic City. (more nervous heh hehs). “Yeah, well you have a grrreat night man. Thanks so much!”, he says. Wife storms out of the restaurant, I just ruined their Valentine’s Day I think. Seems to me my old buddy used to have a bit of a gambling problem and lost his car and more while strung out in the dregs of Atlantic City. “Oops, uh….yeah, uh see ya next time.”