Rouletta, We’re Not in SoFla Anymore!

Posted on Saturday 22 March 2014

I escaped. I got out. I traded palm trees and ocean views for snow-capped mountains and wide-open vistas.

Goodbye palmetto bugs; hello prairie dogs.

So long honking horns; hello drivers so polite no one moves at a 4-way stop sign.

Ta ta trying to stay one step ahead of the liars and schemers and drunks and morons; hello are you really this nice and laid back?

Bye bye triple-digit AC bills in February; hello keeping the heat at 62 because it feels great to be chilly.

See ya later (for now) flip flops; hello to various types of fleece-lined boots and clogs I am so glad I kept after ditching the rest of my winter wear years ago.

Goodbye to brides and all the rest of wedding planning madness; hello to being self-employed under contract to a small company in another corner of the food business.

Can’t say I’ll miss you horrible former owner who got drunk and crashed one of my private events and punished me financially and still owe me money after I had to throw out your sorry ass, along with those of your equally drunk and disgusting pals, at the host’s sobbing demand; hello to some of the nicest folks I have ever worked for.

I will miss you fun outdoor serving job I took for a couple of months before I moved, because you appreciated hard work and honesty; hello to looking for part-time serving work to supplement the contract income.

Goodbye loneliness; hello to my next-door Rocky Mountain neighbor, my beautiful daughter.

Thank you great guy for being willing to travel across country to stay with this gal.

Hello beloved readers.

I’m back.

Restaurant Gal @ 11:24 am
Filed under: First course
Oh Junior, I Hardly Knew You

Posted on Friday 6 September 2013

He should have been “put down” a year before I met him last March. He was a mere skeleton of his former self that I never knew, with tumors and other skin oddities hanging from his belly. He was deaf. He was blind. His walk was a painful hobble.

When we first moved into our latest big space near the beach with a pool and the requisite repulsive SoFla landlord, I welcomed the space and, finally, a pool, as much as I mourned the disassociation with my former two wonderful landlords. But the space…the pool. It was all about the pool. I could deal with the repulsive landlord whose idea of maintaining his property is to tell you to replace whatever is broken, on your dime, and he would “reimburse” you.

“No, no, no, don’t take it out of next month’s rent,” he said when we pointed out the coil-burner cooktop had only two working burners. “Get a glass top; I’ll send you a check after you buy it.” Except the glass top required venting, and all in we’d have to front $1500 out. Can we just get another coil-burner unit? we asked. NO! came his texted reply. So we continue to make do with two burners that don’t work, because we don’t have $1500 to front. And now, we kind of don’t care.

I met Junior before I met my new neighbor, his owner. Junior was out in the grassy courtyard I shared with my other three four-plex neighbors, wandering aimlessly to “go potty” as he bumped into the aloe plants and stumbled precariously close to the pool’s edge.

“I’m the one who let him and the other one out,” said one of three neighbors as I peeked our of my door. “He’s in the hospital. I hope he’ll be okay.”

So, my new neighbor with the yapping rat terrier mix and the ancient Staffordshire was older, ill. His dogs were cooped up inside, whining for their sick, absent dad. Whom I didn’t know, but I felt the angst of his pups, who had no idea where he was or what was happening.

When my new neighbor came home a week later, weak and tired, I cautiously asked him how he was doing, and how were his dogs. He answered he was tired; so were his dogs. Even the young one.

“Well, our other neighbor let them out. I guess she had a key,” I told him in that awkward countenance when you’re discussing a moment in someone’s time of crisis, and you know that someone not at all.

“Yeah, she’s great,” was all he said.

Weeks later, when my neighbor suddenly looked decades younger than the 68 years I imagined him to be, and my great guy and he struck up an impromptu conversation, we asked him to join us for happy hour at a nearby waterfront tiki bar.

We had so much fun with him. We drank just enough; we ordered food. We reconvened back on his patio next to ours when we walked home. We talked and talked. We watched Junior, then the rat terrier, push their ways out his sliding glass door that he only locked with a stick from the outside to keep them from opening the door while he was at work.

And from that moment on, we became friends. Good friends.

My great guy and I continue to work opposite hours, most of the time. But now I had a friend, a neighbor friend, for the first time in years. He was fun, he was smart, he was in the biz as a banquet captain, having done everything from owning a place to managing a dozen others in the past. He liked to dance. He liked to play backgammon. He liked to make frozen margaritas in his blender. He loved our dogs and welcomed them in his home when we were both working late, taking photos of epic dog parties in his side of the duplex and texting them to us, so we could be part of the dog mania.

So what about Junior, I would ask him about his aging grandpa of a pup.

“I wish you could have known him when,” he’d say with a smile.

“I kind of love him now,” I’d say, softly, even though I really didn’t know the dog that well, and certainly had no clue the dog even knew who I was.

“Junior needs to make it to 19 to be in the record books,” my neighbor would laugh on our now frequent neighborly get-togethers when cash was scarily tight and we pretended to covet the time we had to be at home for free on our patios. And now I knew why this tumor-ridden, deaf and blind, once-majestic Junior, the Staffordshire Terrier, hung on. Was hung onto. If you make it in the record books with the 25-something-older-than-that-year-old Russian dog from the 1950s, you actually live forever. And we will never miss you, because you’ll be right there, still alive, albeit online, forever.

When my neighbor went out of town and asked my great guy and I to watch the dogs, I worried for four days that Junior would pass on my watch. I fed that damn dog by hand because I couldn’t get him off his dedicated love seat. I brought water to his sofa-side and brushed my dripping fingers across his muzzle to get him to drink. When I finally did get him to go outside–okay, dragged him by the collar to walk with me to the courtyard–I’d stand just this side of him and down wind, so he would know I was there with him, a faint scent away to keep him in the know. To keep him safe.

But as sometimes happens, too much togetherness sometimes becomes simply too much. As it did last week, at a great concert an hour north, where too much wine and previously broken hearts of our past neighbor’s loves ramped up the emotions; when we were all just there to have a good time at a damn fine country band concert, and next thing you know, it’s no fun at all.

I apologized to my fun and handsome neighbor for yelling at him when we got home. His date with the heart broken years ago by my fun and handsome neighbor actually seemed okay with it all, even though she sparked the crisis in her own drunken stupor on the way home. But now we none of us were not talking, despite living steps away and and sharing a common wall; despite my texted “I’m an idiot” apology to my fun and handsome neighbor, for losing it toward him after we got home.

Alcohol. God love you. God hate you.

For five days, we didn’t talk. I avoided my neighbor, except a nod hello if I had no choice but to acknowledge him, and he me. For five days, I planned my escape from SoFla, gave myself a six-month deadline, and cried myself to sleep because of the time I figure I have wasted in this miasma of a seaside locale that always lets you down–the crappy jobs, the friends you never really make, the edge and ugliness of most of those around you. Well, except my great guy, who has never been a waste of time, but who certainly could ask himself if he has wasted time with this crazy and confused RG, who is too old to be this crazy and confused.

“I have to get out of here,” I told my great guy.

“When?” he asked, knowing I have no money to buy gas, much less to move.

“After my wedding season is over. By April 1,” I told him. Adding, I would spend no money on anything other than rent and food and utilities to make this happen. “And when I move, and I hope it is with you, I have to be near one or both of my kids.”

To which my great guy agreed. Because he is just that great, always.

My phone rang this morning, early, as I was drying my hair and dreading another day in hell, also known as my job. “Your phone is ringing,” yelled my great guy, his voice raspy and drugged with a deep sleep broken.

“Neighbor,” read my caller ID. At this hour?

“I think Junior is done,” came my my fun and handsome neighbor’s voice.

“What?” I asked, not sure.

“Is your great guy home?” he asked. “I need your help,” he cried, clearly distraught. Broken.

“Okay, we’ll be right there,” I said. Because that’s what neighbors say to one another, what neighbors do, when a broken voice calls you for help.

I held the rat terrier while my great guy and my fun and handsome neighbor slid Junior onto a beach towel, hoisted him, and carried him out to my fun and handsome neighbor’s rental car because his is in the shop. I opened the back door so they could place an alive, but barely, Junior, in the back seat of an unfamiliar ride.

“Do you want me to go with you?” I asked my neighbor through an open passenger window, pretty much pleaded for him to say yes, because I knew he was taking his pal of 17 years to his last goodbye.

“No, someone there will help me,” he said, maybe because he wanted to be alone, or maybe because he was still angry with my week-ago stupidity.

“Then let me say goodbye,” I said. And I bent toward Junior and told him to please say hi to my first dog Mrs. TucKer and to run with my most recent beloved pup, Angel. To tell them I love them, when he sees them. To welcome the moment when he can run free again and feel no pain, and can see and hear again, and be all that he was and will be.

And I thought about Junior and my fun and handsome neighbor all day while I worked in hell and plotted my escape from it all. I know the pain of willingly putting a sick best friend to rest. I relived it all day on my neighbor’s behalf, wishing I could have known him and old Junior better, in order to be a better friend.

God bless you, Junior. Today you know no pain. Today, you run with Mrs. Tucker and sweet Angel. Today, I wish I’d known you and your owner before. Long before.

Bon chance to you, and to us all.

Restaurant Gal @ 7:22 pm
Filed under: First course
No Goodbyes

Posted on Friday 3 May 2013

Five years ago, a reader found my blog quite by chance during an extraordinarily dark time in her life. She had no real interest in the restaurant world, but my stories about customer and co-worker antics, she said, made her laugh at 2 a.m. when she couldn’t sleep. That laughter, she noted, was the start of her healing.

“I don’t know if you remember me,” began her recent her email. Not remember her? I had never forgotten her and often wondered how she was doing. Now, five years later, she wanted to share the news about the recent birth of her beautiful baby girl, and how her life has moved forward.

I was stunned and touched.

Suddenly, other readers were emailing me as well. “Are you okay?” “I am slightly worried, but hope all is well.” “Just want to know that you’re still there. We readers will wait patiently for you.”

Again, I was surprised and touched. I am indeed fine. Busy with my event planning work and three mutts, for sure, but that’s not really a reason for not writing. The truth is, every time I start a post about a bride gone bad or a groom gone good, I inwardly groan. “Nothing new to see here! Move along.”

And so RG silently languishes in a noisy arena that is over-populated by so much more media than ever existed when I started writing this blog. Now and then, however, that silence taps me on the shoulder and asks, “You’re not done with this, are you?”

Am I?

I was clearing a random spam comment on the RG site today, then decided to have a good laugh and check my stats over the past few months, when I noticed a spike in readership on various dates. One of my favorite blogs, and one that gave RG some lovely recognition, is no more. South Florida Daily Blog, it appears, has closed up shop–back in March, no less.

SFDB’s last post starts:

“One of my pet peeves about blogging was bloggers who closed up shop without any explanation, leaving their readers wondering what happened.

This post is about not being one of those bloggers.”

Hmm.

Which makes this a post about realizing that I must seem like “one of those bloggers.” About letting my readers know that although I’m still here, I am unsure about what to do with RG. It is about wanting to write, but not knowing how to write anything remotely fresh above the online din.

It is also about my sincere appreciation for each and every reader who has ever glanced at RG. Thank you.

No goodbyes, okay?

Restaurant Gal @ 9:31 am
Filed under: First course
2012–Over Already?

Posted on Monday 31 December 2012

As I sit on my sofa with two of my three dogs, half watching a “Twilight Zone” marathon while trying to keep paws off my keyboard, I have to marvel at a year gone by so fast, at a year during which I have worked too hard and not written enough. It was a year seemingly unremarkable, and yet it was marked by milestones.

Early in 2012, my great guy and I left Victoria Park and moved to the beach. We loved the two-block walk to a quiet beach. We couldn’t believe our good fortune to have a beautiful manicured and fenced yard for the Boston pups. We made a tentative peace with our duplex neighbors who parked in our spots and routinely woke us up at 5 a.m. with their drunken idiocy, and we only called the police three times on the back-door neighbors who only know how to communicate by screaming and throwing household objects at each other.

Just goes to show, no matter how nice the neighborhood, there goes the neighborhood when it’s SoFla and you can’t afford $3000 a month in rent to live a block away on the Intracoastal.

Today our beach is closed, thanks to hurricane Sandy who didn’t come within 300 miles of us. At least I don’t own a million-dollar home on that now virtually nonexistent strip of sand.

On May 1, I was promoted to private event manager, promptly took 4 days off to enjoy the experience-of-a-lifetime Kentucky Derby, and then became buried in weddings, retirement parties, baby showers, and any number of surprise birthday celebrations. Mine is not a store with banquet captains, linen service, or high-end events. It is, however, an incredible learning experience every weekend based on usually great and sometimes horrible clientele. Mostly, I have learned that when reasonable and decent people host events, the events hardly feel like work; and when a bride vomits on the dance floor, a four-hour reception feels never-ending and never ends well.

This October, I was determined that my beloved Bostons would win a costume contest at their vet’s office. They did, as portrayed in my last post, dressed up as “Boston Baked Beans.” The prize included treats, a shout-out online, and a free office visit. In an incredible and incomprehensibly sad turn of events, our younger Boston Angel fell ill mere days after the photo was taken and the prizes won. On November 3, we made the surreal and so difficult decision to allow her to rest in peace.

One day your dog is seemingly fine, and the next you’re shown an X-ray riddled with splotches that mean inoperable cancer. The vet’s office applied the office visit prize to her last visit. Her ashes now rest on a shelf in the dining room, surrounded by photos of her in happier and healthier days.

Rouletta seemed dazed and aloof after Angel’s passing. My great guy perused every pet rescue Web site in Broward County, trying to find an angel to make us feel better. I worked hard to forget Angel’s last visit to the vet, which resulted only in my constantly reliving it. Our little family was, in a word, a mess.

Then a funky Pug/Boston/Beagle/Corgie and everything-else mix named Mr. Bow came to our home for a trial visit. Rouletta perked up, my great guy stopped his online searches, and I could finally let Angel rest. Once-abandoned Mr. Bow, with his turned-out paws and meat-loaf body, was all too happy to call our house his home.

And that would be the end of the story, except for a call I received while my great guy and I were watching the ponies race at Gulfstream a couple of weeks ago. “You’re on a list for a Boston Terrier and we have one. Can you come by today to see him?”

“We’re on a list?” I asked my great guy.

“We were on every list, before Mr. Bow,” he answered.

“Well, one of those lists still has us on it and they have a Boston for us to see.”

You don’t just go “see” a dog at a shelter. You kid yourself if you think you won’t walk out with a wriggling, too-skinny bundle of long legs and a slobbery face.

And now there are three.

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Mr. Bow

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Rouletta celebrating her 10th birthday.

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Rufus, the skinny Boston, who we hope to fatten up in no time.

I saw both my kids on Christmas, the Redskins beat Dallas to win the division, and I am off tonight, New Year’s Eve. In my world, that’s a pretty nice way to say goodbye to 2012 and welcome 2013.

Happy new year to all.

Restaurant Gal @ 11:52 pm
Filed under: First course
SoFla Life Observation #2,543

Posted on Wednesday 14 November 2012

Overheard anywhere in the U.S. except SoFla:

A young man is in a checkout line behind a woman with a small dog quietly sitting in her grocery cart. The woman is behind me. I am paying for my purchases.

“Wow, they let you bring a dog in here?” he asks.

“Yeah, as long as he’s in the cart,” she replies, smiling.

“He’s really cute. Can I pet him?”

“Sure, he’s friendly.”

Same scenario yesterday in a SoFla Dollar Store:

“Wow, they let you bring that dog in here?” he asks.

No reply.

“He’s really cute. Can I pet him?”

“Yeah, if you give me a cigarette.”

“What? I just want to pet your dog.”

“And I said only if you give me a cigarette! No one pets my dog for free.”

“Oh yeah? Well then f— you, bitch!”

I have absolutely nothing intelligent to say about this except I wish I was making it up.

Restaurant Gal @ 10:06 pm
Filed under: First course
Happy Halloween from a couple of Boston Baked Beans!

Posted on Wednesday 31 October 2012

It’s true, the girls won their Halloween Costume contest in these get-ups.

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Happy Halloween!

Restaurant Gal @ 2:45 pm
Filed under: First course
Sandy’s SoFla Signature…A Footnote

Posted on Monday 29 October 2012

I live two blocks from Fort Lauderdale Beach, just off A1A, and yet I had not actually seen the beach since Sandy waved a brief hello on her destructive travel north. Since Thursday night, I have been more concerned with when my power would come back on and how best to navigate a normally 20-minute work commute that today extended to 55 minutes. So this morning, I grabbed one of my dogs and a camera and took a walk to water’s edge at high tide.

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Mountains of sand don’t keep high tide from breaching the lowly sea wall.

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No beach. Just a flooded A1A.

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My son and his friends swam at this beach a week ago. Look to the far left, in the middle of the roiling water. That used to be the beach.

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My steps to the beach.

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Look closely. Look again. Yep, that’s right. Only the handle bars of someone’s locked up bike peek out of the sand.

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The sand and surf might lap at your home, but you might as well mow what’s left of your ocean-front lawn.

At this minute, I am watching the news unfold about the havoc this alpha gal is wreaking up north. My continuing inconvenient commute to work pales in comparison. And it begs the question, just how is it that we are embracing a glorious Fall cold front while the mid Atlantic and northeast are battling a tropical hurricane?

Good luck and safe wishes to my DC, coastal Delaware and NJ, and NYC friends. You are experiencing more of a hurricane’s wrath than I ever have.

Restaurant Gal @ 9:30 pm
Filed under: First course
Time Off, Time Out–Perfect Timing

Posted on Monday 17 September 2012

Take one best sister friend from Montana, add her two beautiful daughters, fold in a Fall wedding for one in Tahoe, and poof!–the perfect opportunity for a sliver of a vacation.

I don’t know the last time in the past five years that I’ve gotten away, away–really far away from SoFla to someplace entirely new. As much as I used to travel in the olden days of my life prior to living here, I had never been to Lake Tahoe.

Now I know why Rick over at South Florida Daily Blog is so enamored with his yearly vacation to Colorado and a dream to one day permanently live there.

Truth is, I am not a mountain person. I am a beach girl through and through. Mountains, if you must know, kind of scare me. They are so tall, the roads to drive through them so narrow and winding, the weather in them so mysteriously unrelated to that anywhere else–”Blizzard warning for elevations above 4000 feet; 75 and sunny in the valley.”

In an even odder way, mountains make me feel confined, almost trapped, in those beautiful valleys–hemmed in and surrounded by snow-capped beauty that is so many miles away from the wide-open waters of either coastline.

You see, for me, it’s not about loving a beach vs. a mountain vista. It’s all about living in a geographic aisle seat.

And then I saw this:

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And this:

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And rode up a chairlift to see this:

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And stopped as much as I could to smell the summertime flowers we can’t grow in SoFla:

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And savored the feel of a soft-as-velvet-grass under my toes, so different from the heat-tolerent spikey stuff on which my dogs despise to walk:

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And marveled at the drivers who didn’t honk–ever, and who did stop for a pedestrian.

And was surprised by checkout ladies and front-desk clerks who smiled and chatted with us.

And embraced an elusive something called “Tahoe Time.”

And wondered what life might be like living where you sometimes leave your house via a second-floor deck to step out onto three feet of snow.

Hey, no place is perfect. :)

Restaurant Gal @ 8:59 am
Filed under: First course andSouth Florida Living
Time for the Band to Break Up

Posted on Monday 27 August 2012

I filled my car up last week–twice. I bought so many rounds of Laughing Cow cheese that requires no refrigeration, I laughed at myself. I bought half a dozen packages of gluten-free rice crackers–at full price, which I never do. And of course, the requisite 12-pack of toilet paper rounded out my purchases because someone told me they traded rolls for rum after Wilma in 2007.

Then there was the dog food, the endless bottles of water, and the rum and wine so we wouldn’t have to trade toilet paper for either. We were set for Isaac.

Back in the day in D.C., we replaced tropical-weather shopping for snow-storm hoarding: milk you never drank, bread I couldn’t eat, eggs whether you needed them or not, and toilet paper because you’ll use it at some point anyway, topped everyone’s list, along with bags of ice-melting chemicals–who cares if the stuff eats away your sidewalk–and yet another snow shovel whose handle will break. Then the waiting began, peppered with days of dire snowfall-potential predictions that always ranged from a dusting to a foot or more.

Those were the days, when just the threat of a flake closed schools and offices (I always loved working for those whose policy was to “follow the Federal Goverment”–they always seemed to close, at least early if not for good for a day or so), and a certain anticipatory thrill filled the air that maybe the icy white stuff would accumulate just enough to give workaholic D.C. an excuse to give itself a guiltless day off.

I have not experienced a hurricane. I had not experienced a true tropical storm until yesterday. I was, however, very familiar with the shopping-spree syndrome during which you tell every checkout person, “I’m not shopping for the storm–I really was out of these things!” Uh huh. Whatever. Or, really, who cares? I didn’t. I wanted to be prepared. Because from what I’ve heard from the SoFla lifers, the aftermath of a real storm is real ugly. Ask anyone–Wilma is their never-again gauge.

I cannot imagine lack of electricity for weeks. And not because of the lack of lighting–I have plenty of Coleman lanterns and 2,034 packs of D batteries with which to keep them lit. Nor because of the lack of hot water–SoFla tap water is perennially luke warm and never refreshing; I could deal with that. No, it is the unimaginable prospect of life in this swampy, so-humid-you-can’t-see-out-your-apartment-windows-every-morning-from-April-through-October atmospheric miasma without AC for even a day or two that gives me great, great pause.

Isaac was no Wilma. Isaac was hardly anything, so they say. But if you ask me, it was plenty enough. And the bands just keep on playing, tossing palm fronds, flooding intersections, smearing multiple lanes of A1A with muddy sand that has to be plowed, and closing only this while making the rest of us wish they’d close that, too.

Seriously, how long does one storm nowhere near that strong and now nowhere near us have to hang around? Bands, please break up. Have an artistic disagreement. Sleep with each others’ girlfriends. Just go.

And no, my musician pal in Nashville, Tennessee, I was not tweeting about wanting Chris Isaak’s band to break up! But thanks for asking a serious question that made me laugh.

I hope stupid Isaac lets the Gulf Coast off as easily as he did us. Would that we could call that a wrap on the 2012 storm season.

Restaurant Gal @ 7:51 pm
Filed under: First course
Postcards I Forgot to Send

Posted on Thursday 19 July 2012

I know. It’s been more than a month since I’ve written. I should have written! I meant to, but…but I didn’t. Guess I’ve been away far longer than I realized. But I wrote postcards! I know, I didn’t send them. Well, here they are as one, all those postcards that I really did mean to send each week since I’ve been away.

Postcard #1 With this Ring

Weddings, weddings, weddings and a bunch of rehearsal dinners, baby showers, anniversary dinners and corporate meetings thrown in for good measure. I love and loathe the weddings the most. I try not to, but I become attached to each and every bride I work with. As the toasts are made and the cake is cut, I try with little success not to tear up. When a recent mother of the bride hugged me to thank me for pulling together her seemingly endless decorations, countless flowers and way-too-many candles, saying, “You made it so beautiful, so much more than I thought it could be,” we were both straddling the fine line of shedding happy tears and sobbing in a way that makes one’s face blotchy.

They are so much work and stress, these weddings, and they wear me out for days afterward. But as I remind my staff and myself almost every weekend: It is just another day at work for us, but let’s try not to forget what a privilege it is to be entrusted with one of the most the most important days in a person’s life.

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Postcard #2 Winner, Winner!

I might have won a few dollars here and there, just when it came in really handy. My great guy eventually got tired of hearing about my jackpot winnings and my lament, “If I’d only bet the max!” Apparently, the Seminoles tired of me, too. My sure-thing machines turned cold weeks later.

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Postcard #4 A Token of Our Appreciation

Thanks to my ridiculous proclivity to play a slot machine now and then, Hard Rock thanks me by bombarding me with monthly “freebies,” each worth about 1/10,0000 of what I’ve won and lost there.

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But the weekly free concert tickets have provided some of the best nights out I’ve had in a long time. Dancing on stage with Sister Sledge as she belted out “We Are Family,” dancing in the aisles with RG Son (who came to town for a last-minute visit) to Earth, Wind and Fire one night and Al Green the next–all the while laughing with the ladies sitting next to us on both occasions who demanded to know, “How does that young boy knows all the words to all these songs–he’s too young!” To which I replied, “I raised him right.”

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Postcard #3 Birthday Girl

Happy birthday to Angel, my newly turned 9-year-old Boston Terrier. We found the doggy birthday cake at Fresh Market nestled between dozens of mustard varieties on a random aisle. Rouletta and Angel pretty much viewed the thing as crack, and we are stilling doling the cake out in small pieces. Apologies for the awkward photo that includes my great guy’s foot–snapping pics of birthday-crazed pups is no easy task.

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Postcard #5 Sometimes You Just Have to Rant

I may be off the floor as a server, but my former co-workers can’t help but share their share of “Are you kidding me? stories. Best one all summer: Party of 14 comes in with no reservation on a busy Friday evening to celebrate a birthday. The staff scrambles, but gets them seated, hides the cake, finds candles forgotten by the organizer, and generally makes sure they get top-notch service. Everyone has two happy-hour-priced drinks. Everyone shares seven appetizers. Everyone is happy. At the end of this perfect evening, everyone wants a separate check. The server explains that he needed to know that at the beginning of the party in order to set it up properly in the computer, and adds, “But you all got pretty much the same things, within 25 cents of each other. Let me split it evenly.”

“No, no!,” says the host, “We’ll figure it out. Give us a minute.” A full 45 minutes later, this is what they handed the server:

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At which point, the server walked back to my office to show me this table’s handiwork, saying, “I’m killing time to make it look like I’m following this dumb-ass worksheet. I’ve already split the check in 14 equal pieces. But here, you keep it–you know, in case you ever miss your nights working with us.”

Postcard #6 The End as a Court’s Mere Afterthought

“RG?”

“Here, Judge.”

“Do you have your ID?”

“Right here, Judge.”

“Do you own any property together?”

“No, Judge.”

“Do you have any minor children together?”

“No, Judge.”

“Is everything over, finished, the end?”

“Yes, Judge,” I said, so softly I barely heard my own voice.

“Yes?” asked the judge.

“Yes,” I repeated, as loud as the others before me had spoken, so all in the tiny courtroom could hear.

“You are divorced. Good luck.”

And just like that, multiple decades of marriage and five years of separation ended with a shuffle of paperwork and a nod toward the door to send me on my way.

“How do you do this every day?” I whispered to the bailiff as I walked toward the courtroom’s door. “That’s it? That’s it???”

She smiled at me, her eyes reflecting a tinge of sadness laced with jaded irony. “Every day, sweetie, every day we do this. That’s it.”

“But I thought I’d get a chance to say something, you know, that Mr. RG and I are on good terms, that he’s a great dad and a good person, how sorry I am that I had to leave and move on. How I will always have love in my heart for him, you know, in my way.”

“Good luck,” came the judge’s voice as she pronounced the next person divorced.

“Shhh. You go on now,” said the bailiff, pointing me toward the door.

“But…” I started.

“Go on now,” she smiled. “Go on. It’s okay.”

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Postcard # 7 Calling All Muses

Postcards are snippets, aren’t they? Easily scrawled, abbreviated snapshots of so many days filled with so much unwritten rich detail. Why, I wonder, have I found it so difficult to write about any of them? Am I out of words? Is my writing finished, over, the end? I hope not. I want to reconnect with my old friend RG and allow her to give me back my voice to laugh, wonder, and tell it all. Here’s to hoping it’s soon.

Meanwhile, I’ll tackle my summer reading list.

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Best wishes. Wish you were here!

Restaurant Gal @ 9:26 pm
Filed under: Beloved Co-workers andFirst course andGuests