One of the prep cooks — a feisty Nicaraguan girl named Aracelly — loves to lob salt down the front of my shirt during the daily salt-throwing ritual at the Cafe. Let me back up a smidge. The boss man insists we salt the parking lot daily, tossing snow-white kernels to each direction in order to garner business for the restaurant. It’s a quirky tradition that always catches the customer’s eye and has transitioned over the years from omnidirectional salting to something that is more akin to assaulting. As I sprinted full speed around the restaurant this morning (under rain heavy skies, I might add), I certainly looked the picture of a lady in my knee-high black stockings and emerald-green dress. Pursued hotly by Aracelly and her salt-laden hand, it dawned on me: this is the last time I have to protect my miniscule cleavage from errant grains of salt for six plus weeks!
It’s vacation thirty — and it couldn’t have come soon enough. But before I expound upon why exactly, it’s time to feed the newest member of the family: Little Mack. Strangely enough, this is the most maternal I’ve probably ever felt. Those of you who know me — at all — know maternal and Sylva are like the dirty south and an unbiased view of un-white people. The two just don’t coexist. Because typically it goes like this:
Friend: Aw, look at that baby.
Me: Babies, ew!!!!!
Which is why I am waxing maternal about none other than Little Mac — my brand new Macbook Air/bundle of joy. Little Mac is 12.8 inches wide and weighs 2.96 pounds and he’s smart: two days ago, he reminded me (completely unprovoked) that September 11 was my friend Aubrey’s birthday. A belated happy birthday A, from me and Little Mac!
Anyway. Today, somebody told me they didn’t want to sit in my section because, “It’s too glary over there.” As I write the word “glary” little red dots dance underneath the word — WordPress’ polite way of saying, “Excuse me, creator of sentences, but that does not in fact appear to be a recognizable word.” Because it’s not. If you’re going to act ridiculous about a table, at least speak English.
And then the cooks, in all of their industriously uncaring glory, put gravy on my “sauce on the side” chicken fried steak BLT, gave me a medium rare bacon cheeseburger with no bacon and a decidedly well done patty; meanwhile, they had given my co-worker a patty that was still mooing and bleeding incessantly. Its consumer — an impossibly wrinkled old man (the leading edge in terms of overcooked meat) who was crankier than an extra-large basket of hand crank generators — scowled at the thing as if he couldn’t recognize its form (he maybe couldn’t) and thumped his hand on the table in a manner befitting a three-year-old. Funny, since a couple of weeks back, a man in his 50s did the same childish thing when I didn’t visit his table first (I was — logically enough — working my way up my section table by table). He slammed his fist down on the table as a judge slams a gavel, but with much less authority.
“Excuse me,” I said quite loudly, turning around mid-sentence. The two normal humans whose order I had been administrating turned to stare at him. “If you can wait, I’ll be with you in just a moment.”
Hold on a sec — Little Mac is getting a bit hangry. Again. Won’t take long to juice up this baby — Little Mac’s meal is quite tidy in comparison to say, Rihanna’s new purse… which, I must say, puts the “dic” in “ridiculous.”
Now where was I? Yes, vacation thirty… it became more apparent I shouldn’t be paid to administer to people for a spell when — at 2:31 — I turned two people away because we had just called it quits for the day.
“Seriously?” Said the woman (she was older than a petrified Tyrannosaurus Rex turd). “Unbelievable.” She slapped her cornucopian thighs in frustration while her husband looked on. “Completely unbelievable.” Because repeating the same word twice entices the Universe to drop a three course meal at one’s feet? I’ll never know.
“We have to close down for a bit so the kitchen can get ready for dinner,” I said, the picture of fake aspartame sweetness. “Can I offer you a suggestion on where to go?”
“That won’t be necessary,” she snapped, halfway through my question. She turned around and began to trundle down the stairs, waving me away like I was a fly on her (ever so desired) turkey sandwich (light cheese, hold the mayo, well toasted whole wheat bread, extra french fries).
I wanted to tell her to go lick the north side of a southbound horse, but I abstained.
With customers grating on my nerves the way steel wool takes rust off a crosscut saw, I see only one cure: Italy. I want to leap from the narrow, barbeque soaked halls of the Cafe into the rushing waters of vino rosso, where sugar cones brimming with pistacchio, nocciola and bacio gelato float by like boats of edible joy. I will pedal a borrowed bike under cracked castle walls, through thick, humid air that wreaks of ripe nectarines, sweaty horses and rotting grapes. I shall endeavor to speed along a tiny road lined with men in Maseratis cursing each other’s mothers with unbridled glee.
Oh, Italians. Even their phrase for “good luck” — “al bocca del lupo” (literally “into the wolf’s mouth”) captures their animated culture. Especially because the proper response is “crepi il lupo,” or “may the wolf choke.” Not only do Italians walk into the wolf’s mouth fearlessly, but they pause to give it the middle finger. And then they have eight more shots of espresso.
Aw. Little Mac’s eyelids are sinking towards his angelic chrome cheeks like Miley Cyrus’ underwear just before she climbed naked aboard a large wrecking ball and then licked a sledgehammer like a Chupa Chups in her new music video. To parrot my good friend Ron Burgundy, “Stay classy, San Diego.” Anyway, excuse me while I tuck in the little Apple of my eye…
All this talk of adventure has worn me out, too. Time to rest up and pre-hydrate for Jessie’s wedding this weekend… then, we’ll be hopping the pond at the butt floss of dawn on Wednesday morning. Fear not, loyal followers, Italy provides ample opportunity for Little Mac and I to find the Sylva Lining in everything. Don’t miss it, or I’ll feed you to il lupo…