Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Even after she charged me for the bacon cheeseburger I continued to swoon for her
Throughout the summer of 1992 I worked at The Downtown Diner in downtown Flagstaff, Arizona. I was 13 years old. The owner of the diner was a Hawaiian man by the name of Dave, who incidentally was missing a digit after an unfortunate run in with a meat slicer and who was also a friend of my brothers. My brother happened to be the head cook who looked handsome even in a hairnet. My brother suggested to Dave that I wash dishes at the diner for extra money while I spent my summer in Flagstaff contemplating puberty, my rapidly expanding collection of Motley Crue tapes and all those bottomless hippy women I saw in Sedona who seemed to live in total disregard for grooming of the nether regions.
Dave hired me and I was quite content to spend my days listening to the speed metal cassette tapes the cook and his crew played while I was feverishly pumping out dish load after dish load. Sometimes I'd look at the Misfits postcard taped above the grill where all the meals were prepared. Other times I'd take a genuine interest in seeing first hand what is done to the food of the complaining patron. I'd have said my career as a dishwasher at a diner in a town loaded with hippies looked promising till the owner hired his sister-in-law who was an incredibly attractive bohemian of a woman complete with a nose ring, nice form fitting skirts and tasteful cassette tapes that offered me reprieve from the onslaught of Suicidal Tendencies and early Slayer I was quickly growing tired of.
Her name was Karen. She was in her mid twenties, which I saw as a mere technicality as I knew once she witnessed my dishing washing skills everything else would fall into place. One day she asked the cooking crew if she could enter two new cassettes into the rotation. The cassettes were Lenny Kravitz' Mama Said and U2's Achtung Baby. Despite my musical tastes being firmly situated somewhere between Warrant and Motley Crue, I recognized these two cassettes as being brilliant and liked Karen even more so. I often believed that my dish washing prowess ultimately thrived when Achtung Baby was played as it possessed all the melodies and beats that good dish washing music should, as opposed to Slayer's Reign in Blood which made the cooking crew work at a breakneck pace but made me yearn for more of Karen's tapes.
I'd say things were going well with Karen and i till the day I ordered a bacon cheeseburger, fries and a milkshake (all of which were normally provided to me free of charge by my brother the cook) and my beloved Karen charged me for the entire meal without even offering me a discount. She did mention that she didn't charge me for the bacon, though she should have. I thought pointing out that she overlooked the bacon was patronizing and I knew I couldn't love a woman who charges me for the very food I need to continue the crusade of washing the tsunami of dishes being pushed my way. I can't say I tipped her either, nor that I wanted to. Shortly after the bacon cheeseburger soured relations between Karen and I, Karen suggested to the owner that they find an older dish washer and he did. They handed me my last check and I ran to a local record store to buy a cassette of Motley Crue's Girls Girls Girls, plus a Cinderella CD I'm either too ashamed to mention or just simply can't recall. As an added bonus, my brother ended up hooking up with Karen. I didn't mind. I later bought U2's Achtung Baby and whenever I listen to it, I'm still 13, Karen's still 20-ish and I have yet to order that bacon cheeseburger.