Tag Archives: drama

The Dysfunctional Diners

18 May

Sometimes at work, I like to wait on dysfunctional families. And when I say “I like to wait on dysfunctional families” what I mean is “I really hate waiting on dysfunctional families in most circumstances, but when it is literally SO SLOW that I’m lucky to make 35 dollars, I like waiting on dysfunctional families because it gives me a source of entertainment.” Yesterday was one such day.

Outside of the bar area of the steakhouse, there is this little antique phone hanging on the wall above two chairs and a small cocktail table. Most people walk by the phone and don’t even acknowledge its existence. Sometimes people will say “Oh what a cute little phone!” and that’s the end of it. And then sometimes, but ONLY sometimes, will a family of four walk into the bar, only to have the younger of the two sons break away and say, “LOOK AT THAT PHONE MOM! ITS ANCIENT!” and the mom will screech and get out her iPad to take a photo of the kid climbing onto the chairs and putting his shoes on the table just to reach the phone, yank it off of the wall, and take a picture.

Already I knew… this was it. This family was going to be my source of entertainment for the night.

Now in order to fully let you understand what I was dealing with, I need to describe these people.

Over-Worked Father: Dressed in an Ohio State T-shirt with a receding hairline and a forehead that looked like it was made of turtle skin. (Tight, yet very wrinkly and malleable.) He looked like he had been forced to listen to the My Little Pony theme song (the 80’s version, not today’s version) on repeat for six years prior to entering this upscale steakhouse. He looked angry. He looked aggressive. He looked defeated.
Enabling Mother: Wearing a t-shirt covered by what I could only imagine was a jacket made from llama shavings. She had puffy blonde hair, but her inch-and-a-half roots were black and growing out. She was not excited to be in the steakhouse. She reminded me of the mom on American Beauty…. smiling, trying desperately to keep everyone together when everyone would much rather be three states apart in each direction. Seeing her smile actually made me sad.
Satan: Satan is the older of the two brothers. Wearing swim trunks and a gray t shirt, Satan literally did not smile ONCE in the two hours he was seated at this steakhouse. Literally, Not. Once.
Sid: I have named the younger of the brothers Sid because he literally was Sid from Toy Story.

Sid-toy-story

Literally. This face. That voice.

So after Sid climbs onto the cocktail table to violently claim the antique phone, and after Enabling Mother takes the picture, the four of them sit down at a table. Already I can hear the muffled anger coming from their direction. Satan throwing his arms into the air and violently sighing, pushing so much air out of his lungs that Enabling Mother’s fluffy hair actually billows a bit from sitting across from him.

My coworker Lucas looks at the table, then looks at me.

Lucas: Have fun.
Me: Jesus take the wheel.

I grab four beverage napkins, and approach the table. I start to give myself a pep talk… I am smiling! I am happy! Maybe I can help this family stop fighting and make their meal really awesome, so they’ll leave happier than when they came in! I am an amazing employee and I can do this! There is a reason our company calls their employees “Stars!” AND I AM THAT REASON!!!

I inhale to greet them, and-
Enabling Mother: Will you two just SIT DOWN?
Satan: (Speak-yelling at Over-Worked Father in such a disrespectful tone I was surprised that no one physically assaulted him) YOU TOLD ME I COULDN’T BRING MY HEADPHONES TO DINNER AND NOW HE HAS HIS! (motions to Sid)
Sid: (Headphones in, playing a game on his smartphone that is larger and more high tech than my own phone. He is 8. He is not only completely unaware of this conversation, but also of me standing there beside him, beaming.)
Over-Worked Father: What were you going to use them for, anyway? Hm?
Satan: I ALREADY TOLD YOU. I was gonna watch YOUTUBE VIDEOS.
Over-Worked Father: And you? (looks at Sid) Hey!
Sid:
Over-Worked Father: HEY!
Sid:
Over-Worked Father: (gestures) SID!
Sid: (Looks up only because Over-Worked Father waved his arms)
Over-Worked Father: SID WHAT ARE YOU USING THE HEADPHONES FOR!?
Sid: (Takes out one, ONE, of the ear buds. He sighs.) I’m playing a game. DOY!
(Heightened silence while Over-Worked Father seems to be deciding which sound he hates more. Game VS YouTube. Finally he looks at Sid with eyebrows raised.)
Over-Worked Father: Sid? (As if to say… C’mon, Give your brother the headphones.)
Sid: (Already has the earbud back in and is playing his game. He is unaware of everything.)

Keep in mind I am STILL standing at the table, smiling, just watching all of this. Beaming. Smiling like this is the sweetest conversation I have ever heard in my entire life, as if this earbud saga is the most heartwarming tale of selfless love to ever touch my little cocktail waitress heart.

Enabling Mother: (Looks up at me with a huge smile.) Well… We aren’t spoiled, ARE WE? Ha ha ha HAHA! …Ha… um.

Silence. I am still standing there smiling, waiting to see if there will be ay other protests or interruptions before I speak. There are none.

Me: SO! How IS everyone today? Just wonderful? Fantastic! My name is Carolyn and I’ll be serving you today!
Family: Blank stares from everyone except for Sid, who is playing his game and not looking at anyone. Satan is giving me a look of pure evil and hatred.
Satan: FINE! Well I’M JUST GOING TO WATCH YOUTUBE AND YOU ARE JUST GOING TO HAVE TO LISTEN TO IT!!!!!!!
Enabling mother puts her hands over her eyes. Over-Worked Father stares at a crumb on the floor.
Me: GREAT! May I start you all off with something to drink? Maybe some beer? (I shoot this at Over-Worked Father. He looks at me like I am his only key to salvation.)
Over-Worked Father: I’ll take a Sam Adams.
Enabling Mother: I need wine. A nice, dry red wine.
Me: But of course. And for you sir? (Talking to Satan)
Satan still has his arms crossed and is giving me the look of poison.
Me: MAYBE A KIDDIE COCKTAIL!!!
Satan: (Jaw drops to reveal uneven bottom teeth.)
Enabling Mother: Just a round of waters for them.
Me: Of course! I’ll be right back!

I can’t handle this. I can’t do it. I have never wanted to punch a child so much in my entire life. If I go back over to that table and Satan is still giving me that look, I will be FORCED to asked if there is ANYTHING I can do to make his dining experience more to his liking… I will ask him why he is so angry, and I WILL do it with a smile, and I WILL do everything in my power to make him stop looking like such a miserable little garbage can.

I deliver the waters, making sure to smile at Satan the entire time.
Me: So, does anyone have any questions about the menu?
Silence. Dead, still, silence. For a moment I wonder if I’m invisible. I wonder if I actually asked the question out loud, or if I just thought I did… Maybe I’M the awkward one here, just showing up to their table not saying anything at all…
Over-Worked Father: (To Satan) NO, actually I am POSITIVE that a potato is a vegetable.
Satan: NO IT ISN’T. A POTATO IS NOT A VEGETABLE.
Over-Worked Father: Yes. It is.
Satan: NO. It ISN’T.
Enabling Mother: It’s a starch.
Satan: SEE DAD? SEE DAD I TOLD YOU A POTATO IS NOT A VEGETABLE.
(Over-Worked Father looks at his wife as if she is literally the dumbest person in the world. In just one look, I can tell that he is so disgusted at how his life has played out- that he has actually CHOSEN this woman to be his life partner, that he CHOSE to procreate with her above literally EVERYONE ELSE in the whole world, that his next words erupt from his mouth with such resentment and hatred I’m afraid the next topic of conversation will be custody rights. Custody Rights where both parents fight about who HAS to keep them.)
Over-Worked Father: Just because it is a starch doesn’t mean it isn’t a vegetable.
Me: (Beaming!)
Enabling Mother: Whatever. Either way, you need to eat healthier.
Over-Worked Father: I am on vacation, I will eat however I please.
Enabling Mother: (Finishing a gulp of wine) Oh, you’re on vacation? You’re at a work function. Please.

I actually witness Over-Worked Father picking and choosing his battles. He looks at the menu. And I am still standing there, waiting for someone to answer my question.

Over-Worked Father: Satan? What do you want to eat?
Satan: I already TOLD YOU, I want WINGS.
Over-Worked Father: (Death stare. I suddenly realize where Satan has learned his facial expressions.) They don’t have those here. Get the kids fillet. It’ll be the best thing you ever eat.
Satan: I don’t WANT IT.
Enabling Mother: Okay, you know what? They don’t have wings! Okay, fine, nothing. He will have nothing. I am going to have the french onion soup and the wedge salad.
Me: Very good!
Enabling Mother: Sid?
Sid: (Playing his game)
Me: (Beaming at Sid)
Enabling Mother: (Punches him on the arm.) HEY! Mac n’ cheese?
Sid: (Barely responds. I think I may have heard him say “Mm.”)
Enabling Mother: Mac N’ Cheese for him.
Over-Worked Father: I am going to have the Salmon. GOD I’m at a steakhouse and I’m getting SALMON.
Me: Actually our salmon is phenomenal. You won’t be disappointed.
Enabling Mother: (Ignoring me) Make sure you ask for the lentils on the side. I won’t eat those.
Over-Worked Father: Whatever, they’re big. I’ll move them away, it’s not a big deal.
Me: (Thinking “Our lentils are actually tiny, but I’m not going to say that for fear of getting stabbed.”)
Enabling Mother: (suddenly sweeter than ever) Satan? Honey, are you’re sure you don’t want anything?
Satan: (Stares at her. Pouting. Mutters-) …Ids Illay.
Enabling Mother: What was that!?
Satan: (Yelling) KIDS FILLET.
Me: (Looking directly at Satan himself) And how would you like that prepared, young sir?!?!
Satan: (Pure evil. Poison is leaking from his eyes.)
Enabling Mother: Medium well.
Me: Fantastic! I’ll get that right in for you, and I’ll also bring some fresh bread and butter for the table.
SID: YUUUUUUMMMMMMM!!!!!
Me: (Wanting desperately to say “Wait- you can hear me! You can SEE me!?” I walk away.)

When I bring the bread to the table, Sid hulks out. He RIPS the earbuds out of his head and lunges for the bread, as if he hasn’t eaten in six weeks. With every inhale it sounds like he’s slurping something- which is quite a miraculous feat because he is ingesting BREAD, and with every exhale there is an audible vocalization of “Mmmm.” It’s a rather disturbing cycle, but no one addresses it. Meanwhile, Satan is sitting in his chair like a frog. The bottoms of his shoes are actually on the seat of the chair, and any time he wants to drink his water, he literally springs up, puts his hands on the table, and bends over to put his mouth on the straw… instead of just picking up the glass and bringing it to his mouth like any other normal person on the planet. No one addresses this either.

When their food finally does come, I watch intently to see what happens. I watch to see if Satan does, indeed, like his KIDS FILLET. He does. Obviously, you’re gonna like the kids fillet, you ungrateful, unwanted, rat-faced collection of disappointments and broken dreams. You’re at one of the best steakhouses in Orlando and you’re eating a 5 oz fillet! And even if it IS prepared medium well, thanks to your insane to the membrane mother, it’s going to be the best thing you eat all week.

So, that’s basically the end of the story. Once the food came everyone kind of shut up and ate, and the only thing that was semi-amusing about them at this point was when Sid grabbed the black dish that held their side item, and screamed, in the EXACT voice of Sid from Toy Story, “IS THIS MADE OUT OF IRON????” Over-Worked Father tipped 20 percent and they all decided to GTFO. I think he was appreciative that I didn’t announce that we had dessert options… instead, I discreetly handed him the dessert menu out of view of his spawn and said, quietly, “In case you’re interested…”

It’s sad, but I’ve come to realize the importance of alcohol mixed with some good food when it comes to dysfunctional families. Usually by the end of the meal I can have people laughing and actually interacting with each other without arguing anymore. And yet, with this family, I was just happy that no one got slapped… by me. I hope the rest of their business trip/vacation(???) fared better than that atrocious meal, but I won’t hold my breath. I bet Sid is still sitting somewhere right now playing his game and slurp-breathing, and Satan is watching YouTube with that disgusted look on his face, Enabling Mother is looking through a magazine at the body and life she’ll never have, and Over-Worked Father is answering emails and wondering where his life went wrong. It’s really sad to think about these families like this once they’re gone, so I try not to. I just bring them their check, and hope for the best. I have to pay my bills, you know.

What It Feels Like To Watch a Chick Flick When You’re Single… And I Mean REALLY Single.

25 Sep

Day 15 of the 90 in 90 blog challenge.

You will be afraid at first. You will wonder if this is a good idea, or if this is just a recipe for disaster… A masochistic cry for help to anyone who may walk in on you bawling your eyes out.

First of all, picking out a chick flick to watch… all alone… by yourself… without the arms of a strong man around you… is terrifying in itself. It’s like, what can I watch that will cause enough nostalgia and bittersweet sadness to satisfy my need to feel sorry for myself for a few minutes, without also making me lose complete faith in humanity, while also perhaps possibly giving me a fresh new perspective on life and relationships so that I can walk away thoroughly emotionally drained and simultaneously refreshed?

My parents went to bed and so I finished season 5 of True Blood. (Pam, you never cease to amaze me… ) And so I’m clicking through the free movies section thinking, “Okay, Carolyn. You can either go to bed right now and walk away… or… You can do this. You’re in a stable, good place and you CAN watch a chick flick alone. No amount of previous emotional pain can keep you from enjoying a light hearted romantic comedy, OKAY!?” So I go to the sundance channel, hoping that some romantic obscure funny Indy film will catch my eye. There are a ton of random one-word titles… Like… Octopus, or some shit, and when you click on it the description reads something completely unrelated like, “A young man who works in a laundromat realizes his true potential by shaving his beard and weaving mahogany baskets.”

Then I saw a title that caught my eye. I Hate Valentine’s Day. I didn’t even read the description. “Perfect,” I thought. “This is literally perfect.”

Turns out the movie is about a girl who only gives guys 5 dates and then cuts it off, because she loves the fluttery, “honeymoon” stage of dating, but believes that “when the romance is gone, just move on.” She meets this guy and is all like, “Oh you’re cute and you don’t know it, here is my masculine philosophy on relationships and now you want me because I seem fool proof and free spirited I have gorgeous hair and teeth” and he’s all like, “I’m nervous around you but I like it and I want to do something special for you always and forever, despite my complete lack of creativity and resourcefulness” so of COURSE they do 5 dates and then want to keep dating, but neither of them has the balls to say anything. During their time apart the main character finally realizes that she’s been harboring hard feelings towards her father for having an affair and she’s been keeping all men at arm’s length for all of these years because of it. Then this random UPS man has a really moving monologue about him writing “Happy V Day” in syrup on his wife’s pancakes when she’s busy getting their rambunctious kids off to school, and how those little things are really what true love is, not all of the embellishments and stupid dating things that don’t last. So then they both “learn” and “grow” from their experiences and time spent apart and of COURSE there’s the scene at the end where she looks out her window and he’s on the street all like “Here are some references that you only mentioned in passing but I’m bringing them up again now during the climax of the movie so that everyone, including the audience, can see that men really DO listen sometimes! And here are all of your closest friends and family members assembled in the street standing in the shape of a heart,” and she’s all like “Okay let me run down these steps and into your arms and smile REALLY big while you kiss me and I’ll say ‘You’re my boyfriend’ in a really adorable way and then the credits will roll just when our actual relationship is getting started.”

And this whole time I’m sitting on the couch by myself. My cell phone is off to the side. Not being used. I’m not texting anyone. I’m not feeling guilty for not texting anyone, either. I watched an entire movie without having to talk to anyone. Sure, my cell phone was right next to me just in case I did get a text ( I mean come on, people, let’s not get too crazy… ) But it was nice. I was sitting there, watching a movie, completely alone. And I didn’t feel sad or like I was missing out on anything or anyone. I felt at peace.

Sometimes, it’s good to be alone for a while. And let’s be honest, people who are in relationships always say that to lonely depressed single people. Did you ever notice that? But you know what?  I’m only just starting to believe them. Because when I finally do meet someone who has the ability to make me happy, I want to be happy and secure enough with myself, alone, to fully appreciate and enjoy the butterflies they can give me.

But… now that I think about it, I guess I really don’t want someone who is going to “make me happy.” I want to be happy before I even meet them. That way, they’ll just magnify my crazy good, already-there-to-begin-with happiness. Wouldn’t that be something?

So I guess I got what I was asking for when I watched I Hate Valentine’s Day. I got nostalgic. I got a little sad, and yeah, I thought about the love-gone-wrong in my life. But I also learned that I CAN watch a chick flick alone. And not only that, but I can do it without crying. And I can do it while feeling good, and happy. And later, while writing a blog, I’ll realize that I even got a fresh new perspective on relationships and life.

Who knows? Maybe I’ll watch Octopus tomorrow or something.

The Best Gift of the Summer

21 Sep

Day 11 of the 90 in 90 blog challenge.

I knew this night was coming.

I tried to fight it off, tried to tell myself that it wouldn’t be that hard. I figured if I could say goodbye to the cast of “Chicago,” my boyfriend of two years, and my entire college life in one night, I could certainly say goodbye to these two morons and not be too damaged about it.

When I first started my summer here, I was afraid. I was scared of having no one. I was afraid the people in my cast wouldn’t “get me” due to my obscure, off-the-wall sense of humor, my obsession with carbohydrates, and my need to sometimes be left alone in a quiet corner with only my journal.

And then Dallas and DJ walk in. I see tall, dark Dallas and think “Please let him be straight!” Then he sticks a perfect triple pirouette and and says quietly to himself, “I’ve still got it, bitches!” when he doesn’t think anyone is listening aaand I give up on that hope. I wave at them and introduce myself. Dallas gives me the biggest smile in the whole world, and DJ politely does his adorable little DJ grin and half-wave.

We start rehearsals, tentatively singing our separate parts in fear of being judged, while secretly trying to hear everyone else’s voices in order to assess their talent. Dallas and DJ listen to me sing the big note at the end of “God Bless America.” Dallas says, “Gorge!” and DJ says, “YEAASSS.” I like them immediately. Later, while we’re taking a five minute water break, Dallas and I are by the lockers. I forget what awkward thing was said, but I did the “Brrrr” awkward moment sound effect, and Dallas burst out laughing.

“Deeje!” He called, “She just did the ‘brrr’ noise! She does it too! Oh, I’m gonna like you. I can tell.”

It was pretty much history from there.

I spent mostly every single night of this summer with them. I found we had the most fun when we did nothing at all. We watched ALL of the movies. We snuggled in bed and argued over who had to be big spoon. We figured out ways for the three of us to sit comfortably on a two person couch. We went to downtown Cincinnati together. We went to an adult novelty store together on the fourth of July. …I don’t know why we did that…

Slowly, our personal space boundaries grew to be non existent. I found myself being able to jokingly touch Dallas anywhere without it being weird or awkward. DJ and I discovered we both have an innate need to snuggle at least twice every three days. Walking into a room where one of them already was just felt good. It was like I could let out my breath when I saw one of them sitting on those disgusting, sweat-infested suicide-suede couches in the humid smelly armpit that was the Festhaus greenroom.

We taught each other things. I taught them how to cook Cajun vodka pasta. The two of them together continuously showed me how little I actually know about musical theatre. (Brrr…) Dallas taught me to stop thinking so much. He taught me how to let go and let my heart make a decision once in a while. I taught DJ that it’s okay, and even necessary, to be sad sometimes. DJ taught me that no matter how bad it gets, you can always keep going. You can be stronger than you ever thought you were. DJ and I taught Dallas how to listen to that little voice inside of his head, and to always be true to himself, even if that means making hard decisions. They taught me that nothing is planned, especially within relationships, and sometimes you just need to dive in. They encouraged me and listened to me, rooted for me, coached me, cried with me, snuggled with me, laughed with me, drank with me, slept in awkward positions with me, (and in Dallas’ case) showered with me. They plucked their eyebrows with me, yelled at me, told me when I was being stupid and over thinking everything, kissed me when I needed kissing, hugged me when I needed hugging, and left me alone when they knew I needed my space.

I’ve learned so much about myself simply by knowing the two of them. The whole summer, we’ve said that I am a complete mixture of the two of them. I’m mature for my age, like DJ. Like him, I tend to over-think everything, and rarely do I find myself diving into love with reckless abandon, like Dallas does. Yet at the same time, I’m so much like Dallas. Our crude sense of humor, our crazy violent outbursts, and our very deep need for emotional connection with those around us. Where DJ and I are tentative, once I get into a relationship, I am very much a Dallas. I’m passionate and wild with my feelings, never apologetic, and I love big or go home.

I’ve had an amazing summer, and I’ve been “#soblessed” to have been in the shows that I was in. I’ve been in and out of relationships, cried heaving sobs and laughed belly-cramping laughs, gone on road trips to cities I’ve never seen, reconnected with old friends, and learned (once again!) to never judge a book by its cover. And yet-

Having the two of them near me, to listen to my life problems and give me advice, to be there for me at a time when I felt like everything I knew was over and gone… That was the best gift I was given this summer.

It’s rare in life that you find people like them… People who are so open to who you are in that exact moment, whatever that means. They never judged me for anything I was feeling. Instead, they listened with open hearts and open minds and were always honest with me, even when I didn’t want to hear it. They forced me to get out of my head and encouraged me to take a chance on a relationship that proved to be just what I needed. And when I suddenly realized that I needed the chance to be alone for a while, they didn’t judge me or say I was making a mistake. They supported me.

And then… just when they had taught me to follow my heart once in a while and let go, they came through once again, and talked me out of making a decision that would have caused WAY more heartache than happiness. Just when I thought they had taught me everything they could, they showed me that sometimes, your heart should ache. And by denying that yearning heartache of the person it craves, a sense of strength and clarity can also arise from a place you didn’t even know you possessed.

It’s amazing to find a friend who knows you better than you do. What’s even more incredible is when you find two of them in one unforgettable summer.

And so, this blog post is for them. For the two incredible, inspiring, kindest, make-any-bad-day-better people I know. And as I sit in their apartment for the last time, Oxford curled by my feet for the last time, I see the summer I spent with them flash before my eyes…

I see us laughing on stage together.
I see Dallas farting on me right before rushing onstage to sing “Standing Outside The Fire.”
I see DJ and I on a picnic blanket in Eden Park, drinking lemonade and feeding sparrows out of the palms of our hands. I see them sitting at the kitchen table, playfully arguing while I silently wash their dishes with a smirk.
I hear Dallas’ big footsteps coming down the old creaky stairs.
I see the three of us sprawled out on a couch screaming expletives at each other for sharp elbows and sticky thighs.
I see Dallas getting a ticket for parking in a “non-parking space.”
I see DJ and I sitting on the platforms during the very first mic check, and I can still hear the strain in his voice, the interior war raging inside of him as he tells me why he’s not been himself lately.
I see the hurt in Dallas’ eyes when I tell him why I’ve been distant with him, and in that moment, I realize I was wrong.
I see us go from “Hey… do you mind if I have one of those…?” to dirty hands racing across cafeteria tables to fight to the death for the last fry.
I see the three of us rolling our eyes at the security guards.
I feel the sun on our shoulders as we lay by the wave pool.
I see Dallas glaring at my antique jewelry saying, “That has bad juju. I don’t like it. Get that shit away from me.”
I see DJ’s apprehensive first sip as he drinks his first glass of wine.
I feel Dallas’ wet hand grasping mine as we go down a giant water slide, with me dressed in a banana suit.
I hear the beat of the bass vibrating in my ribs while we watch a tragic drag queen croon Wake Me Up  by “Evanescence.”
I hear myself say through tears, “But I love him!” and Dallas answer, “If that’s how you feel, then go be with him!”
I see DJ petting a purring Oxford, and Dallas’ jade face glaring from the table.
I smell the Oreo truffles and the rotting rotisserie chicken.
I hear us burst out laughing, all three at the same time.
I see us hugging, and hesitating before letting go.
I feel them.

Even now, while they sleep in a separate room, drunk from the excitement of a new love that only took the entire summer for them to discover, I feel them.

They are the brothers I never had.

They are the open ears.

They are the look from across a room that can send me into a fit of laughter with the simple raise of a perfectly-plucked brow.

I’m pointing at Dallas.

They are my protectors.

They are my secret keepers.

Simply put, they are my friends.

And I love them.