It’s Saturday night and Beth looks like shit.
“What’s the matter with you?” I ask. “You look like somebody beat you up.”
“Gee, thanks for the compliment,” Beth sneers.
“You trip the light fantastic last night?”
“Oh yeah,” Beth replies, waving her hand dismissively.
“Party too much?”
“What are you my father now?”
“No,” I answer, “But you look like you’re gonna puke in the vichyssoise.”
“Don’t say that word.”
“Vichyssoise,” Beth groans, “The sight of it makes me want to throw up.”
I once knew a girl who’d vomit if she heard someone pretending to throw up. When I was twelve I exploited her weakness with ruthless efficiency. Since this young lady was always pulling my hair I figured it was payback. But now, twenty six years later, I’m glad I’m a mature grownup – far removed from preadolescent playground antics.
“Aw c’mon Beth,” I say teasingly, “Don’t you want some nice creamy vichyssoise?”
“I’m going to hit you,” Beth growls, “I’m going to hit you with this pepper mill until you shut up.”
“It’s not my fault you went out and got hammered last night darling,” I say, throwing up my hands in surrender.
“Oh my God,” Beth wails, burying her face in her hands, “I’m hung-over and I haven’t slept in 48 hours.”
Beth’s working a double. She’s been here since 10:00 AM. I look at the kitchen clock. It reads six o’clock. Beth has several fun filled hours to go.
“The wages of sin is death,” I say, trying to be helpful.
“You’re such an asshole sometimes,” Beth snaps.
I have a rule with waiters being hung-over. I don’t care. Don’t ask me if you can go home early. If you’re having boyfriend troubles, your dog died, or just need a sanity break, well, I’ll always cut you some slack. But if you tell me you’re hung-over I’m a merciless prick.
But, to be fair, Beth’s a very mature woman for her age. Even though she parties like a normal twenty-two year old she always shows up and does her job. She has a great work ethic. (And yes, if you must know, I’ve had to choke on my own self righteousness and work hung-over too.)
“I don’t know how I’m gonna make it,” Beth says.
“Take two aspirins and drink plenty of water,” I say.
“Thanks Doc,” Beth says, sarcastically.
“Try some vitamins.”
Beth walks out the door, banging into Louis as he’s coming in.
“What’s her problem?” Louis says.
“Beth’s just hung-over,” I say. “She’ll be all right.”
“I have no pity for her man,” Louis says. “I used to pull shit like that three years ago but I learned my lesson.”
I stare at Louis. “Dude, three years ago you were thirty seven. Beth’s twenty two.”
Louis starts laughing but catches himself.
“Oh you just had to go there didn’t you?” he says.
Louis’ fortieth birthday’s around the corner. He’s pretending it’s not happening.
“Man, you’re quite the asshole this evening.”
“That’s the second time I’ve heard that today.”
“Call me when you’re forty,” Louis snorts.
“Two years to go my friend.”
“Well it goes fast brother.”
I look at Beth. I remember all the partying and stupid things I did when I was her age. But when I was pub crawling in Hoboken and puking on the Path Train Beth was only six years old. That’s a sobering thought.
“You’ve got a point there Louis,” I acknowledge. “Time does go by fast.”
And you know what? I shouldn’t chide Beth for doing stupid stuff. Why? Because something tells me I’m going to do all new and improved stupid stuff in my forties.
You can never win.