I want to write
about sex. This is a sex column after all, and so that's what I should be writing about, right? I mean, you don't want to hear me bitching about one thing or another, about the weather, about the fact that our two party system is outdated and outmoded and needs to be severely overhauled ASAP or we're in serious fucking trouble; you want the dirt. You want the sex, and, frankly, so do I. But at the moment, I'm sad to report, there isn't any. There could be, but there just isn't. And here's why: I just don't have the time. It's true. My life of late has been so cluttered and consumed with such bullshit that I don't have time to even talk to girls, let alone sleep with them. I hardly have time to sleep. While summer has arrived, and everyone is out partying and running around and jumping on each other left and right like some throwback to the disco era, like in some crazy Bacchanalian orgy, I, unfortunately, am not taking part. And what makes it worse is that I am right there, on the edge, peering in. I am on the sidelines, watching the action, unable myself to participate.
My new job is as a cook at my friend's bar. Or, more precisely, a line cook. Now I, having never cooked before, having gone to dinner parties for years and always showing up with alcohol or pre-prepared foods I'd try to pass off as my own, thought this would be an interesting experience. I thought I would learn something. I also figured that because it wasn't a real restaurant, but a bar, that most people would be there simply to drink and the food orders would be minimal; I was wrong on all counts.
First of all, this place is always crowded, especially when the weather's nice, and these people are not only there to drink but to eat, and eat they do. They are never satiated these fucking people. First it's a few simple orders of chips and salsa or hummus and pita, but pretty soon they want salads, chicken sandwiches and steak, grilled salmon and weird shit like sopas and stuffed portobellos and bizarre shrimp concoctions I have yet to understand how to make. And everyone in the place seems to get hungry at the same time, so you've got like twenty orders for the same thing at the same time and you're running out of stuff left and right, and by the time you've told the waitress that you're out of it it's too late because the people have already ordered, and now expect it, so you're trying to create stuff out of thin air, trying to manufacture menu items out of other menu items that aren't even of the same species, and you're doing this with no real background in food, not even tasting the shit because you're worried how fucking weird it tastes but sending it out anyway.
Imagine doing this every single night for hundreds of people who are all angrily asking why it's taking so long, and the waitresses are asking you the same thing as they're worried about their precious tips, and even though you don't care because it's not like you're getting any fucking tips, you oblige them because you feel bad for some reason, so you work extra hard, even though you're making jack shit. I'm working harder than I've ever worked before for less money then I've ever made before and this is why, my friends, I am having a fucking shitty summer.
When I got my first paycheck I almost shit myself, it was so low. While I knew how much I was making, I thought I was getting paid off the books, but when I looked at that measly amount I realized that no, I was making shit AND they were taking taxes out of it. Shit is one thing, but shit after taxes is something else entirely.
To make matters worse, this is a very trendy bar, and so it's like working at Club Med or something, everyone sitting outside and laughing and carrying on and clinking their glasses, all the flirtatious looks and body language, and I'm stuck in the kitchen, watching it all through my little window. Even though I'm not crazy about most of the clientele - the yuppies, the cheesy Manhattanites, the Eurotrash - I still want to be out there, enjoying myself, getting plastered and talking and flirting and living it up like I should. But no, I am their servant, their butler, their slave. I am their fucking cook, and so I must stay in my prison, my hot kitchen, preparing the foods they will devour through their precious pursed lips, the fucks!
Now, I know that I'm overreacting, and it's just a stupid fucking job and who cares, but you see, as I mentioned, it's affecting my sex life. To work a lot doing something you love and not have time for fun is totally acceptable; to work a lot doing something you hate for no money and not have time for fun is not. To make matters worse, I've taken up the habit after work of unwinding with a joint, after which I usually pass out. The next day I wake up and go back to work. This is my life. I have no free time, have cuts and burn marks on my hands and food stains on my clothes, and to top it off I'm a pot addict. I am an overtired overworked stoner making no money while everyone else is having the time of their lives. I am sixteen years old all over again, only without the energy.
Dear readers, you have no idea how close to disaster we came. It was literally the beginning of the end for us, our darkest day, and, at the last moment, we were saved. We were at the brink of despair, leaning over the precipice of doom, and right before falling off the edge we were yanked back to safety. This is what happened:
THEY ALMOST BUILT A STARBUCKS HERE.
Yes, that's right. Let me repeat:
THEY ALMOST BUILT A MOTHER-FUCKING STARBUCKS HERE, RIGHT ON BEDFORD, DIRECTLY ACROSS FROM THE VERB CAFE.
I don't know the details, but for whatever reason, just when they were about to sign the papers, they decided against it. But they were close. Following their standard corporate model, they were planning to position themselves across from the competition (which usually means a small, independently owned business), assuming that their familiar tasting coffee and frappucinos and color scheme and branding would be so welcomed in this chaotic, frenzied world that everyone would flock to them, thus shutting down the little guy/ma and pa store, in yet another victory for franchises, for conformity, for sameness.
Now, as I mentioned, this didn't happen. And even if it did, I doubt the store would have lasted. These people don't know who they're dealing with. This is not Park Slope for God's sake. My guess is that it would have been boycotted on a grand scale and eventually closed up shop, but even this is not good enough. I don't want that thing to be open one fucking day. Think about it: If it did open, who knows what would be next? A Gap? Barnes and Noble? K-Mart?
Our neighborhood is barely hanging on as it is, what with the influx of Manhattanites filling the bars, the N.Y.U. students plopping down chunks of their parent's money on loft after loft, the write-ups in newspapers and magazines; it's already become too trendy to bear, and now this. I mean, we're a year or two away from becoming the next East Village as it is, and now it seems that time is growing even shorter.
But I don't want you to think that I am mentioning this simply to go into some annoying rant about the "Good old days" of the nabe, about gentrification, about progress. That's not what this is about at all. What it is about is bigger than that. It's about a neighborhood, a society, a piece of land that's significant for some reason, and which I feel is losing its significance each and every day. We have something really great here, and like most great things, they don't stay secret for very long. They're onto us, they have been for some time now, and pretty soon, it's not going be that great anymore. So I don't want to simply bitch about this, I want to come up with some ideas as to how this can change. There must be something we can do about this, right?
We're not a bunch of idiots here, so I think if we put our heads together we can come up with something. I'm open to suggestions, so if you've got any, I'd like to hear them. Send 'em in and I'll print 'em. Be bold, be original, be creative. And remember, I'm counting on you. If we can only stand together, we will be saved. If we can only unite, we can defeat our enemies. We can send the yuppies running, eradicate the trustafarians, obliterate the trendoids. We can do it people. I have faith in us, I really do. So send in your ideas, your comments, your money, your job offers, your pictures of your hot sister, whatever you've got. Nothing will be turned away. It's all good. It really is. It's about working together people. That's what it's all about. It's like the Target ads: "Let's work together/come on, come on let's work together." That's it in a fucking nutshell.
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Street | Brooklyn, NY 11211