Friday, October 28, 2005

hors d'oeuvres

Ah, parties. So much fun. Open bar, hors d’oerves the size of tiny crumpled up napkins, and enough Jay-Z spinning to make even Beyoncé vomit. I hate parties. And if you go to them, I also hate you.

Since I’ve spent the past 2.5 years slave to Ron…I haven’t been able to go to any parties. I’ve only gotten to work them. And working them means I have to walk around carrying a tray of fancy finger food, just to make sure all you free loaders don't get hungry. So now, when I hear the word party this is what runs through my brain: no tips, “what is it?”, and every dumb guy and his stupid joke.

No tips: Tips. This is what we waitresses pay our rent with. But when it’s free, people seem to forget this fact. When it costs money, people always pay extra. Explain this logic to me please. And would it kill you every now and then to slip us five bucks. I’m not beggin’ here…but all your obnoxious thank you’s aren’t gonna keep my electricity on.

“What is it?”: What is this fucking question? You’re at a party. You’re drinking for free and probably a little drunk. Like most people, you probably get a little hungry when you’re a little drunk. And there…low and behold before your eyes is a tray of food. Free food. As if God had descended from the sky and answered your silent prayer. And you’ve got the fucking nerve to look at the food and ask, “What is it?” It’s free fucking food, that’s what it is.

The great part is that “It” is usually something common, like chicken on a stick. It’s white meat people. We’ve walked past a Chick Filet. We’ve done this before. But when I answer, “chicken,” for the fifteenth fucking time, they’ll point to the sauce and ask, “Well, what’s that?” When I’ve finally finished describing where chickens come from, they’ll smile coyly, reach for a stick and say, “Well, I don’t usually, but…”

What do you mean, “you don’t usually?” You don’t usually eat? Bitch, you’re pushing two-fifty. The anorexic models who “don’t usually” are in the bathroom snorting coke. Nobody’s fooling anybody here.

Every dumb guy and his stupid joke: If ever you feel the need to make a comment to the waitress carrying food at a party, let me tell you one thing. You are not unique. Your joke about the food, the party, “Mmm, Honey…this chicken is so tender…do you beat it yourself?”…wink, wink… is not original. I just heard it from the past six guys I was forced to feed for free, so put the food in your mouth and shut the fuck up. Last night as I was carrying a tray of coconut chicken, some guy made one of the 8 classic stupid comments. And since my brain couldn’t help thinking a sarcastic reply to his joke, my face didn’t hide my annoyance. He later found me and tried to apologize.

“I’m so sorry, Honey. I don’t want you to be mad at me. I was just trying to cheer you up.”

Cheer me up? I’m 26 years old, with more school under my cocktail dress than half my friends, yet I’m carrying a tray of chicken skewers through a crowd full of drunk people. Cheer me up. At least the sample bitch at Chick Filet doesn’t have to wear heels.

So for the next party, I want to tattoo on my forehead, “Leave me alone. My boyfriend is a big crazy Puerto Rican.” He’s not, but I’m hoping people will see it, and just take their chicken and run.

Monday, October 24, 2005

(I’m probably gonna get in trouble for this…but fuck it)

Every culture’s got women. Every culture also has a way of trying to get their attention. But there’s one that has found a way to get under my skin like I thought only motorcycle noise could. There I am. Walking down the street sans iPod. And I hear the hiss and then the cry that I cannot avoid. “Mami…MAMI!!!”

I grew up in south Florida, so I suppose I should be used to it. I’m also a woman. I have both my legs. And I’m under 300 lbs. I mean really, with specs like these I’m practically begging for it. But every time I hear them hiss “Mami…MAMI!” I want to whirl around and scream, “I’m a gringa for god’s sake. DO I LOOK LIKE YOUR FUCKING MOTHER??”

What I really want to know is why they continue to do it. Has it ever worked before? Do they actually think that any woman worth Mami-ing is going to reconsider her destination of the grocery store take this man into the nearest alley? And even if she was looking to do that, of all the men on the street, why is she going to pick the one with the Oedipus complex? “Mami…MAMI!!”

Now I realize that the English language has similar terms for reducing women to walking orifices. We’ve got our hot and sexy mamas, but I don’t hear them referenced as much and as non-discriminately as “Mami…MAMI!!!” It’s the tune I walk home from work to. I work in a club, so I’m usually wearing a lot of makeup on my way home. I’m aware that my super glam face (trust me, it’s only the makeup) is not going to help assuage their cries. So I’ve started bringing a hooded sweatshirt to work. On my way home I make sure the hood is covering my head and the strings are drawn tight to hide the majority of my face. Hell, at a quick glance I could even be mistaken for a boy. But apparently every gender’s got “Mami” potential. Because a man closing a small street beverage stand hisses at me. “Psst, Mami. I save some free coffee for you. Mami!” But even though I was freezing and would have loved a hot free beverage, he lost me at “Mami.” He might have had better luck with “Eyy…Pretend my pants is France and invade ‘em!” At least there was a chance that I might laugh and not hate him as much.

“Mami…MAMI!!!” It’s beginning to make me bitter. Even a little crazy. I kinda wanna give up everything that makes me look feminine and pretty. They’re supposed to be the crazy ones. They’re the ones without any blood in their brains and desperately labeling anything a “Mami.” But every time I hear it, the blood rushes equally out of my brain and into my fists. I want to run to the nearest candy store or hotdog stand to find something…anything that might help get my weight up past the 300 mark. Cause maybe then, I can finally walk to the grocery store in peace.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Plan B

(ok, i apologize as this entry is extremely long. but if you're really bored and have some time to kill this is what happened my first night at work)


When I was in college, my roommate and I tried to have plenty of, what we called “background boys.” We were only half interested in these guys, but we still maintained an off again, on again relationship with them. That way, if our current foreground lover suddenly spilt, we would always have someone to take us out to dinner. Our philosophy was, “Always have a plan B.”

When it came to my career, Plan A was always a job in advertising. But after I graduated from ad school, we had to take a little break. But I was not about to sit at home on a Saturday night. So I immediately called on my background career. The one as a waitress.

I got a job, In a trendy Manhattan nightclub. I was looking forward to easy money, free champagne and all the thrills of playing the career field. But instead I was introduced to Nikki, the girl who would be training me for the night.

She had the face of a caramel colored Goodyear tire. Under a disco ball, you could almost mistake her for a relatively attractive, typical blonde cocktail waitress. Turn on the lights and all the scars were revealed. She was 33, had a 13-year-old son, and had obviously worked in clubs her whole life, choking down packs of menthol cigarettes during every one of her breaks. When we were introduced, I stuck my hand out, attempting cordiality. She ignored it and looked up at me with a wrinkled rubber sneer.

“So where have you worked before?” she asked.

“At..um, a place called Pearl for two and a half years, and then another place called Tantra all summer.”

“Good, so you have experience then.”

She said “experience” like you needed to go to med school to bring out a bottle of Grey Goose. With her back to me, I knew she couldn’t see my involuntary eye roll. But she must have read my mind, because she whirled around on her heals and stuck her finger up in my face.

“Look, bitch,” she began. “I’m not gonna be fucking nice to you. I’m not friendly like the other girls. I’m a bitch. I know I’m a bitch, and I don’t give a shit.”

For a second I wondered what would happen if I were to reach down and bite off the finger she was wagging in my face.

“I was head waitress at (some restaurant I’d never heard of) and head trainer at (some other restaurant I’d never heard of).” She started punching in some numbers on the server’s computer. “I like my job, I like what I do. I’m a people person.”

Clearly.

She looked up from the computer, “I’ll either make you or break you tonight. You’ve only got one chance to prove yourself, you got that?”

Make me or break me? Was I missing something? This is a waitressing job, right? A “bring out the bottle of vodka and stand there and look pretty” job. I wanted to argue my case and tell her I’d survived Ad school and had a portfolio. But like she’d informed me before, she wouldn’t give a shit.

“Oh,” she said, shaking a tube of pink lip-gloss at me. “Always wear lots of gloss.”

Advice for life.

I followed her out to her first table, knowing this was going to be a long night. Trainees don’t make any money. And since there wasn’t much for me to learn, all I had to look forward to was 6 hours of getting bounced around by a bunch of drunk people wearing four inch heals. At this particular table, there were three guys sharing a bottle of Jack Daniels. She sat down next to the one on the right and turned into this embarrassingly flirtatious character. I was embarrassed for her at least. And since there’s no point in flirting unless there’s 20% gratuity attached to it, I chose to sit there and quietly observe. This went on for about fifteen minutes, until she looked across at me and smiled. “Come with me,” she said. I followed her to the back room.

Again with the finger in my face. “I need you to open your fuckin’ mouth.”

And, what? I thought. Get on my knees like you?

“Do you know what your fuckin’ job is? “

She reached in her bag. For a second I fully expected her to whip out a cucumber and, like my more experienced friend did in the ninth grade, give me instructions on how to give a blow-job. She only pulled out lip-gloss.

“It’s to make sure customers have a good time.”

She looked in the mirror and smeared a little on her lips. Looking satisfied, she turned back to me.

“You know, all these other girls come in here and they’re all about making money. You know what my goal is?”

I didn’t know what was killing me more. The suspense, or the pain from my four-inch heals.

“My goal is to get drunk. Because If I get drunk then I have a good time. And if I have a good time then my customers have a good time.”

Although it was dark, her insights shed a whole new light on club-going. Little does anyone know, but these places don’t exist for our own drunken pleasure. No, no. That’s just silliness. Apparently the secret to having a good time is not getting yourself drunk, but rather the waitress. The next time you’re out, and your dinner date isn’t acting like a good trophy should, what better way to bump up the fun meter than buying your server a shot? Sure you won’t be able to drown out the pain of your meaningless clerk job with an excess of Friday night tequila. But think of all the fights, crying and general drunken stupidity that could be avoided by devoting your paychecks to intoxicating the club staff. Who knows? Your waitress might even get drunk enough to give you a hand job while you pay the bill.

But as the night went on, for one who’d cited intoxication as a goal, she wasn’t doing much to ensure her success. Until finally one of our tables offered her, and me “the happy trainee,” a drink. I was about to accept a Grey Goose and tonic, but she shook that finger at me again. Then she turned to the man and said with complete conviction, “I ain’t drinkin’ no vodka.”

Well then what do you drink? I thought. Something tells me this place is out of Boones Farm.

“I only drink champagne,” she continued.

And to my shock, the man replied, “Well then go get yourself whatever you want.”

An aside for those who have never worked in the service industry: You cannot EVER get drinks from the bar unless you ring them in on the computer. This allows the venue to keep inventory of everything ordered, and everything that’s been paid for. So if you ring up a five hundred dollar bottle of champagne, you cannot clock out and leave until the bill has been paid. And if it’s not on a customer’s credit card, then it’s coming out of your pocket. And trust me, nothing was coming out of this chick’s pocket anytime soon.

After he gave her the green light, Nikki confidently strolled to the bar and rang up a bottle of Perrier Joet Rosé. She carried it out carefully. Smiling flirtatiously, she presented it to the customer. And behind her sleazy smile was the full assumption that this guy would be dumb enough to pay for the champagne.

“What’s this?” He asked.

She twisted her face into the sort of “come hither” look, the kind that should be abandoned by age twenty-six. Not used by a leather faced thirty-three year-old cocktail waitress. “It’s the champagne you bought for us,” she replied.

“Who’s ‘us?’”

“Us,” she pointed to me and then to herself. I shook my head subtlety, trying to telepathically communicate to him…”No this is all her. I have nothing to do with this.”

“Well how much is it?”

“Five hundred dollars.”

Now this man was wearing a fire chief jacket. So I’d assume in his career he had seen some pretty shocking things. But I’m sure he had never seen anything as unbelievable as a cocktail waitress ringing up a $500 bottle of champagne on his tab, offer him none and expect him to pay for it.

“What…uh…no, honey. Not tonight, I’m sorry.”

Poor man. If only he knew the secret to having the time of his life. Maybe he would have even gotten a hand job out of it.

I nodded and smiled again in his direction. “See, I knew you wouldn’t go for it.”

“What are you looking at?” She asked as she stormed past me. She was now carrying the champagne bottle like it was a bag of garbage, and she was a child who’d been told to take out the trash, or face three weeks of grounding.

Instead of looking at her, I tried to convince myself that I was lucky I had another career. It got me to New York and kept me from having to (gasp) live at home with my parents. The DJ started playing that Cold Play song, “Speed of Sound.” I took a step back to watch and the club lights, smoke and crowds. It made everything seem hopeful and …possible.

Until the DJ fucked up the song and had to cut it off in the middle. When Beyoncé started singing, I realized I’d better get on Plan A as soon as possible.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

this is why i have a blog

We all know these people. Well, those of us that went to ad school know these people. They’re the advertising stars. The ones that can get a brief for toilet paper and turn around win young guns. I hate these people.

Then we all know these people. These are the people that would rather get their nails done than work, and think Daniel Steel counts as required reading. But sometimes these people get paired up with the ad stars. And usually when this happens, great work still results. And the second type of people parade the ad around like God suddenly blessed them with the ability to create better than Mcrap Errickson. But the rest of us know that during this partnership, the ad star finally shouted, “Shut the fuck up. We’re doing the ad this way. Go back to your fucking manicure!”

And because these partnerships exist, I have this giant fear. I’ll finally get the call back. I’ll brag to all my friends about the interview. But when I finally sit face to face with the CD copywriter/art director team they’re going to look at me and think one thing. “Somebody else wrote these ads.”

Cause when I get put on the spot in interviews, my intelligence level suddenly matches my hair color. I completely forget every thing that has occurred in my life up to this point. They’ll ask what movies I like. I’ll stare at them blankly. They’ll ask whose work I admire. And even though I’ve been paying attention to advertising since I was a bored thirteen-year-old sitting in my dad’s office, I’ll respond that I prefer men who wear boxers. This is point that they’ll look at each other and think, “Daniel Steel must be her favorite author.”

A friend told me that it doesn’t matter if I bomb those questions, cause I’ve got the book to back it up. So, ok. Say despite my Jessica Simpsonesque interview, my book does miraculously provide them with the shaky confidence to hire me…on the condition that I can keep producing the same level of work. But because I have not worked on anything in the past year, on the first day I’ll look up at them all doe eyed and ask, “What’s a concept?” And then, despite the years I choked on lethal amounts of caffeine to actually get this shit together, they’ll be certain that my rich daddy hired somebody to write some headlines.

So unless my daddy becomes wealthy enough to hire someone to work for me, I need to practice between here and there. And practice does not mean I’m gonna cover the walls of my bare apartment with marker roughs. I have no partner to work with, or a Clare to tell me all my ideas are shit. So this seems to be the only alternative. I can practice writing and practice hearing you guys telling me how much I suck. Besides, I started to look at some of your bogs, with links to other blogs and other blogs and I feel a little left out. Kinda like walking into your apartment and seeing all your friends sitting around an 8 ball, and saying…”Well, fuck…”

So fuck it. I’ll have a blog. I’ll practice writing and hearing that I suck. Until maybe one day it’ll be good enough for you to say, “Shit, who’d she hire to write this stuff?”