The end of 2014 came fast. One day we were shopping for disposable dinnerware at Cosco about a week before Thanksgiving, wondering together whether 50 of each plate size would be enough to cover our holidays with family, and the next I’m waking up at 2:00 on January first after a 13 hour shift. Don’t get me wrong – I love, love, love setting the table with one of our lovely china patterns (we have two – one was mine, one was Todd’s – that I jokingly refer to as one for Christian and one for Jewish holidays. Though we had so many for Passover last year we were forced to use my china and so it will forever now be known as non-denominational china.) Seriously though, I digress into mindless chatter. And what’s worse is I had to re-read this paragraph to see where I was going with this because I got distracted by the sound of retching coming from our bedroom. You know – the kind that makes you get up and (hopefully not trip over your daughter’s wayward boots in the kitchen – and she’s not even home) run toward the sound even when every fiber of your being tells you to run away from the sound. Too late. Another New Year’s purge brought to you by dog #1 (not Snoop, just in case you’re already confused) and the letter P.
lazy efficient this season, I thought it might be more rewarding not to have to clean up a multitude of fine china that, even if I wanted to put it in the dishwasher, could not be washed by the dishwasher in question due to a temperamental control board. Christmas is not the time for Todd to be pulling out his toolbox and performing Dewalt surgery on a kitchen appliance as family members congregate about the island buffet. (That word – buffet – is suddenly funny as I remember Owen jumping into the car one day and, noticing the Sirius station we were listening to, announced, “oh, it’s Jimmy Buff-ay.”) (And, given his recent penchant for all things rap, I’m surprised he even remembers who Jimmy Buffett is.)
So, the season seemingly came on fast, and I was jonesing for Christmas music before the Thanksgiving turkey even got out of the gate. It may not seem like a big deal, but this is the first year I was actually looking forward to the holidays and all its associated celebrations. December 19thmarked the last day of school for the kids for 2 weeks and the first in a string of libation-infused evenings. Nevertheless, I put in the requisite restaurant worker’s hours and plodded along, put up the tree – though this year we couldn’t cut it ourselves because there was a shortage of Frasier Firs and our favorite tree farm had pre-selected them for us this year thanks to the morons who can’t follow the simple direction of “do not cut down any tree shorter than 6 feet” and ruined it for the rest of us. Thank you, dumb-asses.
Ava and I baked cookies for 4 days and made cookie boxes for all our loved ones, and filled special requests for apricot cookies for my mom and “nut balls” for my father-in-law. I made 6 separate trips to the grocery store because I’m not organized enough to make a list and had to keep going back for that “one” item I forgot. It’s just not fun to go there. Like, ever.
Holidays were low-key – kids went to their dad’s Christmas day at 3 and Todd and I enjoyed a fabulous dinner with my mom and stepdad – just the four of us, bacon-wrapped shrimp, stuffed pork chops, mashed potatoes, haricot vert, and a corner table in the [closed] restaurant bar. We had our family holiday gathering at our house 3 days later with extended family, drinking wine, and finishing the night with a round of flashlight hide-and-seek (and I found the perfect hiding place where no one found me for over 25 minutes, posting updates on Facebook as I listened to their footsteps around me – it was awesome).
I had to work New Year’s Eve – quite expected, as we lost another body Thanksgiving morning, so I knew there was no way my mom wouldn’t need me. Todd stayed home sick from some bug he picked up at the bowling alley – seriously people, if you’re sick and don’t have the good sense to stay home and not pollute everyone else’s environment, then I recommend you DON’T piss and whine out loud about how sick you feel for all the world to hear.
So, I was solo for my bartending stint on a night we were expecting over 110 people and no glass washing machine (because I love hand washing glasses). I arrived with a headache, took 3 ibuprofen, and prepared myself for hell. Alas, it wasn’t so horrible. Most people who came to the bar first tipped me, even if I did transfer their tab to their table (really – do people really not know that it’s part of the unspoken agreement – you order the drink, I make the drink, you drink the drink, and I don’t inconvenience you by asking for full payment before you eat and drink some more drinks?)
It got a little hairy around 8 when I had a full bar and drink slips lined up at the server’s end and an overflow of dirty glassware I had no place to put and no time to wash, when a nice couple I am familiar with sat down at the server’s end and ordered cocktails and he proceeded to chew my ear off about bourbons and their recent trip to upstate New York, peppering the conversation with questions he fully expected me to focus on and answer while simultaneously mixing drinks and taking more orders. Just about the moment I felt like my mind would implode, I knocked a half-full martini glass filled with Bailey’s and vodka (my mother calls it Santa’s Balls – don’t ask) off the bar and watched it fall to the floor in slow-mo, glass shattering everywhere and sticky liquor exploding over the hardwood with no less fanfare than the table poppers. I turned around with a hmmph! and continued my work like it didn’t happen, cursing the cocktail gods. If you’ve never worked in a restaurant, then you have never had the joy of experiencing a dining room’s reaction to a tray full of food falling somewhere between the kitchen and the table it was intended for. It’s not so much different when a glass falls. It’s breathtaking, how it can silence a room for a millisecond before time marches on. And, if you’ve experienced it enough, absolutely hilarious.
At some point shortly after this, I developed a renewed sense of humor. A friend came in close to closing time and smelled like a very familiar variety of incenseand when I mentioned it, he about fell over the bar top laughing like a hyena. I just started giggling and there was no going back. Every time a coworker complained about anything, I just started cracking up. There’s a certain joy in this too – when you’re over 40 and you just don’t give a damn if they get pissed off at you for laughing at them. One girl got irritated with the other and apparently gave her what for (I missed the whole thing but heard about it from the bus boy) and the receiver came to me and said “so-and-so” is picking on me and I didn’t do anything…. and I just started cracking up. When I asked the pissed-offed what she did to the picked-on, her eyes flashed with a look I can relate to on so many levels and she told me she’s sick of picked-on always “telling on” her. She turned on her heel and a new wave of hysteria hit me.
About 20 minutes before midnight my mom surfaced from the kitchen and made the rounds at the tables, and then dove behind the bar with me and started washing glasses. I saw this as my opportunity for my first potty break in 7 hours and I ran. I called Todd about 5 minutes to 12, and proceeded to restock some bar items from the wine cellar where I could actually hear him (live music in the bar = blind deafness). And so 2015 rolled over quietly as we wished each other a Happy New Year and I love you, before I made my way back to my post where the music would continue another hour and the drinkers would keep drinking.
And so, quietly ringing in the New Year in a room full of people and loud Jazz – quietly, because I was stone cold sober, and because the closest I got to a New Year’s kiss came at 4:10 a.m. when I was accosted by our 2 wigged out poodles, who were just glad “mom” was home to take care of “dad,” who was useless for comfort earlier during the neighborhood fireworks.
I listened to the comedy station on Sirius on the way home that early morning to keep myself from getting empty road-induced hypnosis and was blessed with Jeff Foxworthy relaying the tale of his daughter’s PB&J cracker sandwich just as I was pulling into the driveway. Still punch drunk from the work night, I got out of my car in the quiet stillness of my cul-d-sac and prayed no one was up at that hour to see me outside giggling like an asylum escapee. I fixed myself my first cocktail of 2015, and crawled into bed next to my sleeping husband and read the Facebook posts until 5 a.m. when I finally went to sleep.
**The title of this post is brought to you by Snoop D-O-double G.
***If you think some of this post is out of chronological order, I apologize. Get over it. This is how I roll.