My legs were feeling particularly unruly – I tugged on my skirt and crossed my legs, hoping to create a streamline look. To no avail, I sipped on a glass of wine and though, “to hell with it.” Not even my body was going to cooperate today. I took comfort in the rhythm of the restaurant and the bartenders who understood the meaning of a Saturday night rush. I’d never had to worry about dimples showing when I wore my chef whites.
I must have looked particularly wistful because a busy, latino server noticed my ennui (or perhaps my disobedient thighs) and topped up my glass with genuine smile. This was a professional. I felt conspiratorial and suddenly, hopeful.
There is something disturbingly strange, but wonderful, about restaurant people. In a single motion, a cook can make obscene gestures with a ladle and artfully debone a fish. He (or she) is a schizophrenic – pirate, poet and artisan, all in one. The front-of-house have their own two-faced charms and can be as cunning as conmen, or downright courtly (or both).
I looked around and noticed an absurd number of businessmen with martini glasses. Apparently, the manhattan was the drink of choice and I was glad I didn’t order one. Sure, I was on the customer’s side of the bar and I was off on a Thursday night, but I didn’t want to assimilate too quickly. Of course, I missed making cakes and pies and cookies, but I also disapproved of these “regular” people. The latino server returned with more wine. Could he sense my snarly thoughts? Or maybe I looked particularly thirsty? Whether he was trolling for a generous tip or my number, I’ll never know, but I appreciated his eagerness.
I left the restaurant thinking about possibilities, rather than deadlines. My restlessness had cooled down a bit and I was ready to be home. Boarding the train, I passed a herd of culinary students raving about a restaurant they’d just been to, and I wondered if they anticipated the anguish of their love affair. In the meantime, I hoped that they smelled these last days of summer and had great ambition to do delicious things. Maybe, down the road, I’d see them in some kitchen somewhere, but I was already busy thinking of stories, concocting new desserts and wondering about the next meal.