“So whaddya got for us tonight Poppy?” I ask Ernesto, our sous chef.
Ernesto unenthusiastically produces a list of the night’s specials from his back pocket. Telling me the specials is just a formality. After five years I can predict the entire lineup.
“And, finally, we have a rack of pork with a porcini mushroom white wine demiglaze,” Ernesto concludes.
“Nooo Poppy,” I groan, “Don’t tell me you’re serving pork on Yom Kippur!”
“Yom Kippur?” Ernesto asks.
“Dia de fiesta Judio,” I explain, “Sort of like Good Friday for Jews.”
“Oh, si, si.”
“Los judios no comida, ah, como se dice? – oink oink.” I say, forgetting the Spanish word for pork.
“Are they gonna be here to eat it?” Kylie, our newest sever asks.
“Then what’s your problem?” she says.
“There really isn’t a problem.” I reply. “It’s not like we’re a kosher restaurant. It’s just we’re always serving inappropriate stuff on the holidays.”
“What do you mean?” Kylie asks.
“Ernesto,” I say, “Do you remember when we served rabbit during Easter?”
Ernesto brightens. “Oh si, what a mess.”
“Huh?” Kylie says.
“Just imagine telling some poor kid that we’ve got the Easter Bunny skinned and boiled in a pot.”
“Ewwwww” Kylie says turning up her nose.
“See my issue with this?” I ask, ”Next thing you know we’ll be serving bald eagle on the Fourth of July.”
“I see your point,” Kylie admits.
“Poppy?” I say turning to Ernesto,
“You killed the Easter Bunny – you bastard!”
“But he tasted good,” Ernesto replies.
“That he did.”
Ernesto laughs and returns to work. Kylie and I go back on the floor. Historically, Yom Kippur is a dead night. I’ve already talked to Fluvio about closing up early.
“You know,” I say to Kylie, “Every year I tell myself I’m gonna take Yom Kippur off.”
“There’s always next year,” Kylie replies.
“But I always forget.”
“You must be getting Alzheimer’s,” Kylie says.
“Thanks a lot.” I reply. Smart ass kid. She’s all of twenty one.
The door chimes. In walks one of my favorite customers – Mrs. Hirsch.
“Good evening Mrs. Hirsch,” I say, “And how are you this evening?”
“Oh my God,” Mrs. Hirsch says, shaking her umbrella, “It’s horrible outside!”
“Tell me about it. I’m thinking about buying an ark on Ebay,” I say.
“It’s been raining for seven days!” Mrs. Hirsch exclaims.
“And seven nights,” I add.
“Biblical,” Mrs. Hirsch says.
“It appears that way.’
“Mr. Hirsch will be along in a minute,” she says, “He’s parking the car.”
I smile. He’s not parking the car. He’s off somewhere smoking a joint. You know it. I know it.
“Very good madam,” I reply, “Can I get you a cocktail?”
Mrs. H orders a Cosmo. After I drop it off I peek out the front window. Mr. Hirsch is huddled under an awning toking on a fatty. Just as I suspected.
Ten minutes pass by before Mr. Hirsch steps out of the rain. The smell of sweet leaf’s all over him.
“Hey Waiter,” he says, “How ya doin?”
“I’m good Mr. Hirsch. How are you?” I resist the urge to call him “dude.”
“Miserable weather out tonight,” he says.
“It’s been miserable weather every night,” I reply.
“Can I get an Absolut on the rocks?” Mr. Hirsch asks.
“Right away sir.”
I deliver the drink and recite the specials.
“I’ll have the pork,” Mr. Hirsch says happily.
I bite my lip to stop from laughing. I know for a fact the Hirsch’s are Jewish. This must be the Hebraic version of “nothing tastes better than a hamburger on Good Friday.”
“How would you like it baked, er, I mean cooked?” I ask.
“Very good sir. And you Mrs. Hirsch?”
“I’ll have the striped bass,” she says, eyeing her husband accusingly.
I chuckle on my way back to the POS computer. It’s Yom Kippur and Mr. Hirsch is doing doobage and ordering pork. Well, Jon Stewart’s working the Daily Show too.
I guess we each honor God in our own special way.
I deliver the food. Mr. Hirsch polishes off his meal in less than ten minutes, I think about offering him some Doritos.
Now don’t get me wrong. The Hirsch’s are very nice people. Whenever I see them outside of work they always say hello and ask how I’m doing. Some yuppies get embarrassed when they see the servants outside of their natural habitat. Not the Hirsch’s. They’re good people.
But I can’t get over the fact that Mr. Hirsch, who’s my father’s age, with his balding pate and vestigial ponytail, still smokes pot. Hmmm. I wonder if my father ever inhaled?
Suddenly I have a vision of my father, sporting John Lennon glasses, passing me a joint.
“Dude,” my father says, “Smoke?”
Nah – never happened.
I look over at Mrs. H. Today she’s a grandmother with lots of eyeliner and dyed hair. But you can tell that thirty six years ago she was a lovely young woman. Maybe she burned her bra and partied naked in the mud at Woodstock.
I think about my Mom. Did she….?
My brain automatically shuts down to prevent irreparable psychological damage.
Nah – never happened.
But Mom and Dad, the Hirsch’s, they were all young once. Internally I bet they all think they’re in their twenties.
And, as they are now, one day, hopefully, I shall be.
The Hirsch’s finish their dinner and pass on dessert. As they walk out the door Mr. Hirsch looks positively stoned.
“Nite nite,” he burbles.
“Good night Mr. Hirsch.” I reply.
As the Hirsch’s walk out a Tony Award winning actor and dancer walks in with a friend.
I seat him in my section, of course.
“Hey,” Kylie says,” I thought it was my turn to take a table.”
“I’ll take this one,” I reply, pulling rank.
“You know who that guy is don’t you?” I ask.
“No,” Kylie replies, “Who is it?”
I tell her.
“Never heard of him,” she huffs.
“Didn’t you ever see this guy on Broadway or TV?” I ask, “He’s a phenomenal dancer.”
I groan inwardly. Like I said, Kylie’s twenty one. Oh well.
The Dancer and his companion place their order and eat quickly. When he pays the bill he tips me $30 on an $80 check. Righteous.
Walking towards the door, The Dancer stumbles. For a sec I think he’s going to fall. But, in a quick graceful move, he spins around and regains his balance.
“New dance step I’m working on,” he says grinning.
I laugh appreciatively. The Dancer is older now, but man, that cat still has his moves.
“Good night sir,” I say appreciatively
After he leaves I show Kylie the big tip.
“That’s why you wanted that table,” she grouses.
“Pays to know who people are,” I say.
“That’s not fair.”
“Hey Kylie?” I say, waving the credit slip in her face.
“Alzheimer’s my ass!”
Kylie storms off. I chuckle to myself.
The Dancer still has his moves.
And so do I.