Friday, December 31, 2010
But, since it's not 2011 here in Nuevo Mexico I'm going to open another High Life, make myself a sammich, and sit on the couch with the dogs and watch some TV.
Happy New Year to you all.
Monday, November 29, 2010
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
or something about how I was ready to drown my old Italian lady prep cook in the dish sink yesterday and how that made me feel like an absolute douche and how I dealt with that feeling in the time-honored tradition of heavy drinking...
or something about how fucking tired I am and how sometimes I wish I'd just stayed a cop and how...
Fact is that I don't have anyone to vent to. I just really miss having someone to come home to, to have somebody to listen to, somebody who will in turn listen to me, somebody to make me a fucking sandwich every once in a while.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
M, only real cream is offered for coffee at my place and I would love to visit with you over several cups.
J, biscuits and gravy...hmmmm...well, biscuits are a bit like scones in texture, they are usually round, but sometimes square, and gravy is just a word we use for sauce. There's an old joke that goes something like,
Q: What's the difference between gravy and sauce?
A: About $15 dollars.
And that's pretty true. Cream gravy is basically just a bechamel sauce...flour, butter and milk with a little salt and pepper.
Sausage gravy is about the same with the addition of crumbled breakfast sausage. Fry up your sausage, then make a roux with the grease and add milk, finish with salt and pepper.
Chocolate gravy is a southern thing. I grew up eating it and the little bit of research I've done on the subject indicates that it originated in eastern Kentucky and Tennessee and the western Carolinas. I make it with cocoa powder, flour and sugar and a bit of vanilla and salt. My grandma made it with Nestle Quick. It is nothing short of amazing served over a hot, well-buttered biscuit.
Sunday, October 17, 2010
Breakfast is going well, this week was the first full weekend and we made it through with no disasters, I am ditching that late night thing for now though. Here's what my schedule was looking like:
Thursday - work from 9:30 am to around 9 pm.
Friday - get up at 4 am, this requires two alarms set at opposite sides of the room just out of reach of my bed, get to work by 5 am to prep for breakfast. Breakfast ends at 11 am, put everything up and clean the stoves and surrounding area. Take care of any boss stuff (bank/store runs, payroll/accounting, stuff like that) and get home around 2:30, nap 'til about 8 pm and then back to work for the late night stuff. Sell 6 slices to three very drunk people at 10:15 pm then absolutely nothing 'til about 1:30 am when the drunks would start wandering past on their way to their cars as bars were closing. Sell about 6 more slices. Clean up and either sleep at the cafe on my cot or drive home and sleep there (cafe sleep is sucky, but good for about an hour more rack time), get up in time to get back to work by 5 am.
Saturday - Same as above.
Sunday - Back to work by 5 am and done and on my way home by 1 pm. Nap. Mostly a day off.
Monday - Boss shit in the morning, then off for the day. Woohoo.
Tuesday - Regular day, pretty much 9:30 am to 9 pm. Cooking, washing dishes and prep.
Wednesday and Thursday - Same as Tuesday.
Rinse and repeat.
So, yeah, fuck that late night stuff...for now. I still think it's a good idea with potential to make some good money, but not at this time of the year. Besides, it was making me stupid.
Breakfast though is going well, not real busy, but that's good. This is a completely different way of cooking than I'm used to at work. Pizzas you make and put in the oven and then you've got seven minutes to take care of other things. Everything is either prepared in the oven or from the steam table or salad bench. It can get pretty hectic on an extremely busy day, but one person can feed the fifty or so people in a reasonable about of time with little trouble. During breakfast service even a small table can throw you into the weeds...eggs are poaching, biscuits are warming in the oven, bacon and sausage frying, gravy thickening, pancakes overcooking in a second, grits turning from soup into glue as soon as you turn your back on them...and, as you can see from the pic, I don't have a flat top, it all happens in separate pans and it can spiral into chaos pretty quickly.
I've never been a short-order cook, but it's getting better, I'm figuring things out, fine tuning with nearly every order that comes in. It will get easier. I just hope that it stays slow until I find my way a little better.
Around here the Mexican breakfast is king, lots of stuff with tortillas, red and green chile sauces, and beans. And I love that. There are few things I enjoy more than huevos rancheros with pinto beans and a couple warm flour tortillas to scoop it all up with. But every restaurant in town has it on the menu and I wanted to do something different to stand out, so I went with the menu below. It's definitely Southern inspired, some of it is what I grew up eating as a kid, and I guarantee you're not going to find biscuits with chocolate gravy on any other menu in Lincoln County...I'd be surprised to see it on any menu in the state. So far, no one not related to me has ordered it, but a lady this morning did ask if I had some bacon drippings for her grits (hell yeah I did) and a couple from Virginia said that their breakfast today (biscuits with sausage gravy, fried tomatoes, and sausage) was the best they'd had since leaving home. So, I'm finding my audience.
Pretty much everything is made from scratch except for the puff pastry, I buy frozen 3" rounds for the 'nests'. The bacon is cured in-house and the sausage is also house-made. Biscuits are from scratch.
I hope you enjoy.
The Rio Plate – 2 Eggs, your choice of Bacon or Sausage, potatoes and a biscuit $3.95
Nests – Light, crisp puff pastry shells topped with one of our four sauces and two poached eggs.
Florentine – Creamed spinach and hollandaise sauce. $5.95
Creole – Spicy shrimp jambalaya. $4.95
Moroccan – Spice infused tomato sauce. $4.95
Jacksonville – Sausage gravy. $3.95
Griddle Cakes – Short $3.95 Tall $4.95
Toast Lafayette – French toast with a crunchy, golden crust $4.95
Maple syrup, apricot syrup, blackstrap molasses, and honey are available
Biscuits and Gravy – Two buttermilk biscuits with your choice of gravy. $3.95
Cream, Sausage, or Chocolate
Sweet rice - Who says morning grains have to be healthy? $3.45
Sausage (2) - $1.95
Grits - $.95
Biscuit - $.95
Rice - $.95
Fried tomatoes - $1.95
Hot Tea $1.00
Fountain soft drinks or milk $1.50
Bottled soft drinks or juice $2.00
Saturday, October 9, 2010
Ok, that's a little melodramatic...I could keep the restaurant going, but some people, people I care about, would have to lose their jobs. So I decided to stay open late on Friday and Saturday nights to catch the bar crowds and to start serving breakfast on Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings.
That means I get to stay open 'til 2 am for the bars and then close and start prepping up for breakfast at 7 am.
And since I'm the cheapest employee I've got I'm the one doing all the work. And that's ok.
Yesterday I made a hundred bucks in a hour and a half doing some PI shit. At the restaurant? I made about nothing in just over 25 hours.
Guess which one made me feel dirty? Yeah, the easy one. The bar crowd I could do without, but the breakfast menu I love. I'll post it soon. I'm really proud of it and the food (for the most part) has tested really well. I say for the most part because several items that were tested and seemed easy a few days ago failed miserably this morning on what was supposed to be our first breakfast service. I ended up closing (we hadn't even had a customer, but things were just not working out the way I wanted them to) and only cooked for a few friends who came by. I learned quite a bit and hopefully things will work out better tomorrow.
And somewhere in the process I realized that it's not only the difficult jobs that hold my interest, it's the difficult loves...the women who, for whatever reason, I just can't seem to attain, or if attained, keep.
All this became clear as my hollandaise broke for the second time while I was burning bacon and trying to nurse my grits back to life and thinking about Sam and how I couldn't wait to see her again.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Friday, September 24, 2010
When he started at the cafe, as a buser, I think he was around 17. We had hired his friend Kluthe around that same time, both of them were in a punk band called Backwash with a couple of other kids, one of whom, Joel Hixon, is now the front guy for Absent Minds down there.
At that time smoking was still legal in restaurants here and the owner then was aggressively pro-smoker. The restaurant is tiny, but even if it had been larger I don't think John would have created a smoking area. If someone asked, they were told that the whole place was a smoking area. And that included behind the counter. Everyone smoked. I think that the one waitress (John also had a rule against hiring women, an attitude acquired from the first owner, and one that he eventually softened on) and I were the only two out of a summer staff of around 14 who didn't smoke.
John did have to tighten up on the smoking a little bit though when one day Sean and Kluthe were both working as busers and were filling an ice cream order. Kluthe was bent over the ice cream freezer, his eight inch multicolored spiked hair threatening to knock all the junk that immediately fills any blank spot at the cafe into the open freezer. Sean was standing behind him, holding two ice cream cones, waiting on the third to take them to the table, all with a lit cigarette in his mouth with about an inch of ash hanging.
I can still picture him standing there, this awkward and shy kid, trying to portray to the world a toughness that I don't think he's every really had.
Sean lives in Las Cruces now and runs a small restaurant there and plays punk as Sean Bond Goon and his Psychological Voodoo. He's a true one man band, playing guitar and drums all by himself. Hit the link up there and give it listen. It's rough and it may not be your thing, but it's all him.
Tourette's which causes his head to rock to the right. So, of course, his friends dubbed him Tick Tock.
Joel eventually ended up working at the cafe as well, as a prep cook and then pizza cook. He's funny as hell but slightly exhausting because he argues about everything just to argue and is extremely opinionated. He and I have had an ongoing argument for about six years now about the historical origins of cheese.
Once, a few years ago, we were both on the line and there was this very pretty girl sitting at the counter. Joel kept looking back toward her and then leaned in, his head bobbing from side to side, and said, "Dude, that chick is totally into my shit, she wants to fuck my brains out." This was something Joel was convinced of any time any female showed him more than any passing interest or, in some cases, none at all. He said that exact line so many times that Brett and I still say it from time to time when an especially pretty woman comes into view.
Later that night, when I mentioned this to the waitress who had been taking care of the young woman, she snorted, "No, she told me that she couldn't stop staring and him and asked me, 'What the fuck is wrong with his head?'"
After high school Joel moved to Portland and got a bachelor's degree in a field he'll probably never work in. At least I hope not. I hope he keeps playing music and living his dream. He's been playing with Absent Minds for a few years now in clubs around Portland. For the past couple of weeks they've been touring, playing several shows in California, before moving on to Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and finishing up tonight in Denver, CO.
And Kluthe, their spiked friend and former band-mate? He's traded his spikes for sideburns and is starting his second year of law school and is brewing some pretty damned good beer in his house. Like Joel, he is opinionated and argumentative...so I think he'll be happy as a lawyer.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Monday, September 20, 2010
She can drink far more than her size suggests and still cook, she curses and talks shit on a level that few teenage boys can match, loves to talk about food, and is always down to start a fight.
She can also name the designer of a pair of sunglasses (or any other accessory) in low light from a block away.
Farewell Sonja, the place is a lot less pirate without you.
Monday, August 30, 2010
Em finished her first week of college last Friday, I drove up there to take her some of her mail and we had great afternoon. Sushi and sashimi at our favorite, Sushi King, and then fantastic desserts at Standard Diner. They were featured on Diners, Drive ins, and Dives on Food Network a while back and the food is great, my only problem with the place is that it's a little too upscale perhaps to be considered a true diner. Our water had cucumber in it, which sent both of us into a laughing fit in front of our bemused waiter. If you don't get it (and he didn't), just watch The Other Guys. Funny stuff.
Then of course we had to go to the mall, where I was unfortunately too full to hit the Hot Dog on a Stick in the food court. Fuckin' love that place.
But no corn dogs or fried cheese for me for a while now though. I have officially hit my heaviest weight and that with my 25 year high school reunion just around the corner. I'm not even a hundred percent on going, but I probably will and I'm not going like this. So, last night I went to a going away for a friend and had enough to drink for the next month and a half and today started on my mission to create a new Eric. Or at least get some semblance of old Eric back. The Eric that I found existed after my first year in the army, the Eric that I found while a bicycle cop...in other words, the Eric that is somewhere under all this fat, Hot Eric.
This morning, after waking up in a strange bedroom (alone), I went in to the cafe, did the weekend deposits and then left, came home and got my bike (I thought) back into riding condition after about three years of its leaning against the wall, and started on what I assured myself would be a short warm up ride, just to get loosened up and conditioned for longer rides as I progressed. I soon realized that the handlebars were loose, rolling back and forward, and the new discolored swollen thingy on my wrist started acting up pretty quickly, and since I'm way too cool to have some wide ass cushy seat for my wide cushy ass, my ass was hurting pretty badly too.
Pain is weakness leaving the body. That which doesn't kill us makes us stronger. Arbeit Macht Frei. All these bullshit bumper stickerisms went through my head as I pedaled on further and further. That second one is really stupid...there's all kinds of shit that may leave one alive, but weaker in every sense of the word, like an accidental lobotomy with a post hole auger, for instance.
Finally, ninety minutes, 12 miles, one sunburn, one close call when the handlebars rolled while I was trying to downshift, some minor wrist discomfort and some major ass discomfort later I was back at the house feeling weak but satisfied. I'm going to bed tonight with the intent of doing it again in the morning, but to be truthful it may take a couple of days before I can perch on that seat again.
But that's not all. Also only drank water and a couple diet root beers today. Lunch was spinach salad, dinner was tuna steak which I coated in pepper and sauteed to a medium rare and more salad while watching/listening to It's Always Sunny....
Let's see how tomorrow goes.
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
I have read most of your blogs, still catching up a few, but I haven't left many comments or written anything myself.
I know everyone wants to know about Oklahoma, I made another trip back there last month and stayed for almost a week, but I don't see it ending well and I really don't feel like going into all that yet. After a few months it will be pretty funny though, so let's wait 'til then.
In other news, the twins are moving out in less than two weeks and I will live alone for the first time in my 43 years. I still don't know if I'm thrilled or terrified, so I'm not making any life-changing decisions right now (beyond getting a new tattoo, pretty sure I'm doing that) which is why I don't think Oklahoma is going to end well. She's pushing me to move back there, which I was thinking about doing in a couple of years anyway, but she wants me there now. Did I mention she has an 18 month old? Did I mention that the 18 month old, the one day I spent around her, the day before I left to come home, threw three bloody-murder tantrums, one of which was reported in the DC area as a "mild geologic event"?
There are several other reasons why this probably won't end well, but that's enough for now.
Friday, July 9, 2010
Friday, June 25, 2010
Sunday, May 30, 2010
May was full of lots of good things though...although at the time they were happening they didn't seem so good...my kids are all "adults" now, which hasn't really changed a thing yet, but does still give a strange sense of relief. Maybe someday soon they will start paying their own cell phone bills, that would be a real relief.
At Em's graduation I had to spend time with my ex-wife, their step-mom, and it was...ok. It had been over a year since I had last seen her, and I didn't get that punched-in-the-chest feeling this time. Her husband avoided me, which was nice, because though I'm man enough not to hit him, I'm not quite man enough to act like I like him either.
Then I found out that Sam has a boyfriend. She had been a little distant lately, not calling or stopping in as much. The last time she was in the cafe, I mentioned something I wanted to do...I don't remember what...and she said she wanted to as well and that we should do that. She does that a lot, "We should do that..."
"Okay, I'm taking off Friday if you want to go then."
"No, I can't Friday" she said. "I've got to go to Santa Fe for...something."
I didn't ask what. Two weeks later a mutual friend posted a picture of Sam smiling broadly with her head in the lap of a guy I don't know. Someone had commented, "They're great together, such a happy couple." I have to agree, they do look good together, and she really looked happy.
Maybe that's the "we" she meant all along.
I'm not going to mention it, I'm just not going to try anymore. It won't change one thing in our relationship...we'll both continue living our lives, reaching out to each other when we're both single and feel the need, and only then. That's the way it's always been.
In the restaurant world, Brett decided that Cafe Z couldn't make it and was going to close and try to find a job in town. I had, the month before, signed everything over to him just to get it off my books, and had written off any hope of seeing any of my investment returned. And I didn't really care about that. I didn't help him start it to get rich, I wanted to do something to help him out.
But a month later he's ready to call it quits, and though I don't agree, I really don't have a say in it anymore. So, I think about it for about an hour and call him back and offer him his job back here. The more I think about it the more sense it makes, and it should work out for the best.
I did get my investigator's license and am committing some money from the restaurant to get that business started, but the start-up is nothing compared to what it takes to get a restaurant up and running, and once that's done the overhead is almost nothing, and the money can be pretty good.
So, we'll see how that goes...still not sure how I want to do that, I'm not at all okay with handing out information to people without knowing how they plan to use it. I also really don't want to do infidelity cases...but on the other hand, people should know if their spouse might be bringing something home from his fishing trip besides tall tales.
I'll let you know.
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Monday, May 24, 2010
Sunday, May 23, 2010
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Work? I'm pretty much not enjoying work at all right now. It's been slow as hell for the past few months (usual around here) and I got carried away when it was busy at Christmas and over spring break paying down debts. Now, that's a good thing, but it also means that I didn't go into the slow times with the cushion like I had last year. Plus, pretty much everyone at work has managed to piss me off lately and I really don't feel like ranting about that.
Right now, one of them is standing outside my office door, smoking, and talking about this fucking ab machine she wants to buy, and I'm about to snap.
The twins will be going to visit their mom and step-dad in Germany in June, and then they'll be moving out in August. This thrills and terrifies me and saddens me.
Now, another one, the new cook, just came in to brag about her pizzas, how perfect they are...then she's quiet for a minute and makes this "hmmmmmmm" noise, every time there's a silence she feels the need to fill it with a hmmmmmmm. Shit.
And one more thing, Facebook sucks ass. Really. I held out and held out against joining, but then I did because some of my good friends from high school and college were on there and some of my family was on there and it just seemed like a good way to stay in touch, especially for me, the guy who never calls or writes his friends and only communicates with most members of his family with a Christmas card (usually late).
Now she's back, talking about something else (all I can hear is my own teeth grinding) and taking my ibuprofen.
So, back to Facebook, it was pretty cool for a while, I enjoyed catching up with people, seeing pics of their families, staying in closer touch with my family, and I was able to not get dragged into the games and apps, learned how to block them so that I didn't have to see Bobby's Farmville activity every time I opened my page, but now people are getting in touch with me, people I never really wanted to hear from again, and of course I 'friend' them because I'm really bad at being rude from a safe distance, which is really weird.
So, yeah, that's about it.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
They are always pushing something I don't need.
Chicken wing sauce...
I don't serve chicken wings.
Well, it goes great on bread sticks...
We make our own sauce for bread sticks.
We bake our own bread.
Precious little frozen cheesecakes with fancy paper wrapping, just pull a few from the freezer every day...
We make our own desserts, including cheesecake...
...and that is pretty much how the food show was, a bunch of vendors pushing pre-made goodies, and golfers wandering around making a free meal of the samples. I saw nothing of interest except the produce, some of it looked good. But, Keith had a good number of clients show up and that looks good to his bosses.
While I was there I ran over a golf tee and got a flat.
Sunday, April 25, 2010
It's an old joke around here, but like the license plate one, there's a lot of truth in it. Lots of people who have lived here for more than a few years find themselves single at some point and swimming in a rather small dating pool, there are young women, old women, and just not a whole lot in between.
Which brings me to "Sam." Sam is far younger than me, she was a kid when I met her nine years ago, and the girlfriend of one of the kids who worked at the cafe then. She left town for a while and came back not long after Z and I separated...by then she was 21.
One night she and a friend came into the cafe and had dinner, said they were going to a bar to play pool and invited me along. I met them there and we ended up later at the friend's apartment watching a movie. Sam said she had left her phone in my car and I went out to help her find it and as soon as we had a closed door between us and her friend she turned around and kissed me. We ended up at her place that night, making out before passing out on the couch.
Next, it was a party that we ran into each other at; one night it was a bar where we had barely acknowledged each other until I was leaving. I was in my car, backing out of the parking lot when she ran out and climbed in. "Let's go," she said.
And so things went, sometimes we would not see each other for a few weeks and then my phone would ring and she'd need a ride, and then we would end up at her place, or mine. Once, one of my favorites, we passed the night in a Mexican bar getting confused looks from the locals.
The common themes of all these encounters were that they were all on her terms, she always found or called me when she wanted to see me, it didn't work the other way, and there was always alcohol involved. Except once...sort of.
We had ended the night at my house, talking in front of the fireplace before going to bed. The next morning, instead of the usual quiet ride into town to drop her off at her place, we stayed in bed, naked, watching tv, taking breaks to have sex, until late in the afternoon. Out of my nearly 15,695 days, it is one of my favorites.
After a while, she began dating someone, as did I, and the phone calls and meetings stopped. Then she moved away, but about a year later got in touch with me again...this time online. Everything was good, she just wanted to check in, see how I was doing. Soon after, she split with her boyfriend and moved again, this time to Southern California, and started working on getting sober.
We wrote back and forth for a while and she'd call every once in a while. For a while there we were even contemplating taking a trip together, and then she just disappeared. I found out that she had suddenly gotten engaged and then she started drunk dialing again. She wanted out, would I help her? I never could tell her no, figure it out for yourself, but the next day I guess everything would be fine, because I'd not hear from her again until the next time that she was drunk and I looked better than whatever life clusterfuck she was staring at.
Then, she called sober, told me she was leaving, going to Texas to stay with family for awhile. She'd call when she got there, she said.
When she called a few weeks later she told me that she was pregnant. She had found out after splitting with her fiance, and knew then that she had to leave. I listened, not really knowing what to say. After hanging up I called her back to tell her that I didn't know what she was thinking she would do, but that I just wanted her to know that whatever she decided was right would be ok by me...but that I thought that she would have a beautiful baby who would be so lucky to have her for a mom.
Maybe you're thinking, really? She doesn't sound that fantastic, but that's because so far I've only described a drunk who liked to have sex with me sometimes. But she's so much more, she's smart and funny and she works hard and she believes in things and now her baby is almost a year old and it's so good to see them together, because they are happy, and the baby is lucky because Sam is a good mother.
I get to see them because Sam moved back not long after that night that she called to tell me that she was pregnant and sometimes they stop in to eat, or bake bread, or to tell me about her college classes, or to bring me some enchiladas.
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
"Why," I asked.
"It basically said that I was a manipulative bitch, and a slut," she said.
"That's weird, it was dead on on mine too."
Friday, April 9, 2010
Sunday, April 4, 2010
Actually, that's a pretty accurate description of life...random shit.
I've just been having a problem with food for a bit now, not food itself, but how we treat it, how it's thought about, written about, and, I am completely sick of "celebrity" chefs and their self-righteous diatribes on all topics, except one. I do think it's good that some are tackling diet-related issues like diabetes, obesity, and the completely fucked up way in which our food supply system works.
But, you won't see that on TV, because no one wants to watch it. No, they want to see flamboyance, and exotic ingredients, and four thousand dollar cakes.
So, yeah, I'm a little burned out right now. No worries though, it happens from time to time, I always come back around, and I took a step in that direction Friday night.
Friday was a shit day. One of those days where I am supposedly off, but end up spending half the day or better at the cafe putting out fires. This time it was a dead freezer, an ailing refrigerator, someone else's calamari going bad in my walk in, and a tax check that I had forgotten to account for being cashed and throwing me deep into the red when I thought I had at least a pretty good grip on the black.
I had gotten a good run in though, and was thinking tacos would be good for dinner, but didn't really want to eat anywhere in town. Go home? No way, I'd have to clean before I could cook and I just wasn't doing that. I wanted to sit, be waited on, have some good food and a couple really cold Coronas.
I drove from one end of town to the other, trying to make a decision...
No, their food sucks.
No, their food really sucks.
I wouldn't piss on the guy's place if it was on fire.
No, so-and-so's working, not in the mood for her bullshit.
Good, but I'm not in the mood for that...
and variations on all those all the way.
I was thinking about driving to Alamo, but really they don't have anything better and it's a forty-five minute drive, when I remembered the Inn. The Inn of the Mountain Gods is a couple of miles outside of town on the Mescalero Apache reservation and some friends had been telling me how good the lounge was. Kind of like a mini vacation, they had said. Something different, they had said. Sounded good.
I've been out to the Inn a few times since I've lived here. I'm not really a gambler, the food in the "fancy" restaurant is over-priced with pretentious service, presenting "real Mediterranean olives", olive oil and cheap balsamic for bread dipping as if they were from the hand of Thomas Keller himself, and the dance bar is country-western and if I'm going to a country bar, it's going to be to the Win, Place or Show, one of the best country bars on the planet and right up the street from the cafe.
But I hadn't been to the lounge, and though it serves appetizers from the same kitchen that serves the fancy place...and probably the buffet down the hall, now that I think about it...I heard that it good. So I went...and it was great.
I parked in the underground garage, and that was already foreign enough to get me feeling like I was somewhere different, somewhere new. I took the elevator up, walked past the line into the buffet on the right, the giant windows on my left open to the valets busy with a line of cars with Texas and Chihuahua tags; past the entrance of the casino, the bells and whistles trying their best to draw in passersby, down the sweeping stairs that pass to the left and right of a large fountain designed to look like an indigenous basket, the five year old who had been running up the stairs on the left, passing me and reaching the bottom just before me on the right, "I beat you," he said.
The restaurant is to the left, the lounge to the right, to the front is two-and-a-half stories of glass looking out to the lake and the mountain, one of the best views in the area. The lounge's west side is also made up of large windows and shares the same view and the sun was just low enough to be really annoying in the lounge. I picked a spot at the bar where I could watch the whole place, except for the piano player, who was behind me, ordered a Corona, looked at the menu, even though I pretty much knew I was getting the beef tips, and settled in.
I love to do this, watch people, make assumptions based on what I'm seeing, try to figure out a little bit about them in a short amount of time. I had gotten there a little early, six o'clock, so there wasn't a whole lot to work with...
A heavy set female bartender with short, spiked hair who rocked from side to side as she walked, looking almost like it would be easier for her to walk sideways like a crab. She is already falling behind in the not-at-all-busy lounge and as it should get busier as it gets later, I hope she's got backup coming in.
The cocktail waitress looks to be in her late twenties, married with at least one child. She has just enough padding (there is such a thing as too skinny), is wearing the universal uniform of her trade, too-short skirt, neck line cut low, and though I'm appreciating the view, I don't think she would choose this clothing for a night out...I'm thinking a knee-length skirt, green would be good. She is very pretty, in the way that some women from old New England money are pretty, she moves easily among the tables and chairs in the lounge, smiles often and is aware of her surroundings. I think she probably played soccer in college.
The piano player is a repressed homosexual in a long term, but loveless marriage to the girl he dated in high school or college. Now, I know that that is a stereotype, 'piano player playing show tunes has to be gay,' but I think I'm right on this one. He has been wearing the same tweed suit coat when he plays for probably thirty years. He seems to miss a note from time to time, but maybe it's freestyle, what the fuck do I know?
The couple around the corner of the bar from me don't interest me much, though they are kind of amusing. He looks like Riff Raff from the Rocky Horror Picture Show dressed in tennis clothes, and she is one of those women who drinks too many martinis while holding her glass up and waving it around so that everyone can see how cultured she is drinking martinis.
One other couple sits near the piano and call out tunes for the piano player to try. They are young and have a bizarre knowledge of 70s TV shows...please, no, not "Suicide is Painless"...God. Dammit.
A guy perches at the corner, a couple of stools over from me. He is in his fifties, dressed in jeans, short sleeve western shirt in a red plaid, with a simple belt and work boots. He is wearing a cowboy hat, the same one he wears to work, it is battered and stained with salt around the brim. He has the arms of one who uses them daily and orders Wild Turkey with a Coors Light chaser. He watches the entrance as he drinks.
Hiding from the family, I think. Raised on the farm, the kids all bolted as soon as they had the chance, went to college, got jobs with the gas company, or married accountants. He's glad that they have easier lives than his, but he's a little hurt that no one was willing to take his place and is tired of hearing about carpools, hair dyes, the best place in Dallas to get sushi, and how they're trying to figure out what's wrong with Todd, he keeps getting in trouble in school. Within five minutes of seeing little Todd for the first time in a year his grandfather knows what's wrong with him...remove the ear buds and get the tiny screen out of his face for a little bit and engage him in something instead of harping across car at him while on the way home from another parent-teacher conference.
On the deck, on the other side of the windows, a large family of Mexicans is having a reunion, the kids constantly moving through the lounge area and being patiently shooed out by the pretty cocktail.
My beef tips arrive and are fantastic. An appetizer, they are braised in a spicy beurre blanc, and served in a small cast iron crock surrounded by lots of small slices of good crusty bread. It is really, really good. What seems like too much bread is just enough I find as I finish mopping up sauce with the last crust and order another Corona.
By now the 70s TV fans have moved on, as have Riff Raff and Martini Lady and Dairy Farmer.
A sad looking lady comes in, sitting toward the middle of the bar. In her early 70s, she wears a lot of makeup, an uncomplimentary wig, and struggles for a minute getting onto the bar stool. She motions for an ashtray even before getting settled, but then doesn't produce the expected too-thin, too-long cigarettes, but a pack of Marlboro reds...and she orders scotch on the rocks.
Well, this is interesting. She lights a red, orders a sandwich, and alternates looking around with looking into her glass as if it had an answer.
A couple in their sixties sits down at the corner, then shifts over toward me so she wont' be as close to Sad Ladies smoke. He has a mid-range whiskey with water, she has a cheap Chardonnay. They don't stay long but they smile and touch each other frequently. They have been together a long time, but still like each other...and I think toward the end that is more important...cool.
Another couple sits between them and Sad Lady. He is a runner, in his sixties, casually well dressed. She is in her mid to late fifties, and smoking hot. A shade darker than Marilyn-blond hair cut short with a with a tousled 'I don't have time to care about how my hair looks' look that takes a lot of work to achieve. None of the dead-face tightness that comes with Botox, her age shows in her hands and her taste in clothing, which matches his style. So, she's had surgery, but whoever did it was very, very good and thus very, very expensive. Real money. She has blue eyes and I get a slight smile when she catches me looking at her.
He orders white wine for both of them and a sandwich for himself. She orders a salad.
Sad Lady immediately starts talking to them, but it's when the piano player takes a break and comes around to talk to them...so, they're part-time locals with a place at one of the country clubs, that we learn that her husband died last year and that he loved Louis Armstrong's "It's a Wonderful World", and, no rush, but would he mind playing that when he gets a chance?
Another couple sits in the lounge. They look to be around my age, she's a very pretty west-Texas blond, he is about 6-2, over three hundred pounds, all of it up top as it blossoms over his Wranglers, pushing his rodeo buckle to a forty-five degree angle. It is more mushroom cloud than muffin top. His cowboy hat is new, black, and of good quality. His mustache is one of those that runs down his chin getting bushier and thicker and grayer at the ends.
Let's see...sweethearts in high school, he was a football player, defensive lineman, she a cheerleader (let's go for one more stereotype), they might have even stayed together for a bit when he went to Tech and she went off to UT-Dallas, but then drifted apart, married others and raised their kids and now, freshly divorced from their respective spouses, have found each other on Facebook, married and are on their honeymoon.
Yeah, that's a hell of a stretch.
And so the night goes for another hour...some local real estate types come in and sit near the piano, chattering away. One of the women scopes out the money couple at the bar and makes a pretext of going to the bar and stops to introduce herself, placing herself between the man and Sad Lady who was talking about how she hated golf but started playing to please her husband, he died last year, but learned to enjoy the game.
Realtor Lady glances at me but correctly determines that there is no reason to say anything before returning to her group and calling out for a Miles Davis tune.
The piano player wants to know which one.
She can't name one.
I finish my second beer and order a coffee and watch for a few minutes longer. A young Hispanic couple sits at the other end of the bar...A Mexican woman and her mother order a couple of drinks and take them to a couple of chairs and sit down in the now-full lounge...a balding, pasty twenty-five year old with a bushy beard orders a pinot grigio and a Bud and takes it to a table where his girl, a young woman who looks like Mila Kunis immediately leans in as he sits and they start to talk. I don't know what the fuck that's about.
I'd like to stay a little longer, but I'm limiting myself to two beers these days, and once you switch to coffee bartenders tend to start ignoring you.
It's nice to get out of the ruts from time to time and look around.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
I said, "I want to use your phone."
He said, "There's a pay phone at the drugstore across the street. I ain't running no charity here."
I said, "There's a dead person in room thirteen, and I am going to call the police and tell them. If you say anything to me but yes, sir, I will hit you at least six times in the face."
From the Godwulf Manuscript by Robert B. Parker
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
And...the two women I was trying to maybe have some sort of dating-type relationship with both pretty much blew me off. Ok, I wasn't trying to hook up with both of them at the same time, I had pretty much decided on one, even though she's been warm and cold for about a year now, but when it became clear that that wasn't going to happen, or maybe I just got sick of sitting on the back burner, I decided to ask out a bartender who (I thought) has been flirting with me for a while now. Apparently I am not a good judge of such things.
Oh well. The first is probably a good thing, we had a series of drunken flings a few years ago and she's back in town and sober and I thought maybe there had been something there, back then, and maybe there could be something now. I guess what was there back then was convenience and a not much more.
The second is really cool, and while I am aware that bartenders make better tips by being flirty, we have hung out outside of that environment, and we do share a love of sarcasm, Ray Harryhausen movies, and conveniently sized cheeseburgers, and she had gotten out of a relationship a while back, so I gave it a shot. I'm not a hundred percent on it being a no go yet, but I'm pretty sure.
And...my sister (younger) just became a grandmother. I am so not digging that for some reason. I mean, yeah, I'm happy for my nephew, he looks totally stoked in the pics I've seen of him with his wife and baby, but his wife, and I'm judging her based entirely on her facebook page, is a total nut. And, I don't want to be old enough to be a grandpa. Luckily, I had the sense to get my kids fixed while they were little.
And...I don't know what the hell happened last night on Southland. Oh, I watched it all right, but what happened to the bald Latino detective? They just stuck a new one in his place with nothing more than a comment at the end that it had been a hell of a first day working together...and when the hell did Cooper come out? I was pretty sure that he was in the closet, the viewers only recognizing the clues because, hey, we also saw him at the gay bar...and who the hell goes to funeral, especially a cop at another cop's funeral, even of someone they don't know, without asking how they died?
Last nights episode was weak, and there I've been talking it up like crazy. I guess I'll re-watch it in a couple of days and see if I can figure out what I missed.
And...did I mention that I'm tired?
Thursday, March 18, 2010
I guess he's not going to wait for a woman to come along who smells of rosemary.
Saturday, March 6, 2010
I've fought through the phase where my body was craving sugars (strangely, I got very Southern during this phase, grabbing sweet tea and Moon Pies on the way home from work almost every night). I've replaced my usual Doritos, burrito or grilled cheese dinners with salads, nuts, and fruits, and I've been hitting the gym pretty hard the last few weeks.
But all for naught, because the freaking Girl Scouts are out in force everywhere I go, pushing their crack cookies, and they don't care about my suffering, my pain, how hard it's been or how weak I am right now, they only care about the almighty dollar...and probably a merit badge of some sort...and bunnies.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
I know that on many levels what I do now is important, I provide jobs, taxes, and I ensure that our food is prepared and handled safely. But that just doesn't cut it anymore. I've always wanted to be that guy who got the call to do something no one else could, or would do, and I'm not talking about going shoulder deep into the grease trap to remove a blockage. I'm about exciting stuff, stuff that makes a difference to people. For a while, sometimes, I was that guy, and I miss it.
So, what to do? I don't want to sell the cafe, I do enjoy it still, and the money is good (sometimes), so going back to police work or the army is out, I wouldn't really want to do that anyway.
I really couldn't figure it out until it hit me, private investigator. I'd thought about it before, but didn't want to be doing process service and chasing after straying spouses, that's less appealing than the grease trap. But, if I kept the cafe, kept working it, maybe cut my hours back, I could do the PI stuff on the side, I could afford to pick and choose the cases that I accepted.
So, that's what I'm doing, and I've applied for my license, which might actually turn out to be a hurdle I hadn't anticipated. NM requires three years experience within the last five years. I've been out of police work for over five years, so I'm appealing to the board based on my experience and training. One of my friends pointed out that I should be a shoe in, as I have two ex-wives and a drinking problem. We'll see what happens, but I do have a plan B...and a plan C.
In the meantime I've been brushing up. Five years is a long time, I've forgotten a lot, laws have changed, and hunting for people as a PI is quite a bit different than hunting for them as a cop. As a cop you have access to all kinds of federal, state, and local files, you can call water billing for an address and no one blinks, you can enter a name and date of birth into a computer and get pages of information on criminal and driving records. As a PI you can usually still get that information, it's just a little tougher, you have to be more creative, and sometimes you just have to break out the credit card.
This I have figured out over the past month while practicing my hunting. I am interested in primarily taking on missing persons cases, custodial interference, deadbeat parents, that sort of stuff. I knew that it was going to be difficult, not having the police resources anymore, so I decided to practice on a group of guys who no one is really actively looking for, but who need to be found: absconded sex offenders. These are the guys who are required to register, but don't, and skip town. There is one listed in our county, so I started with him, working on him in the mornings, on the occasional day off and during breaks at work.
I thought it would be easier than it's turned out to be, but because he's been tougher to track than I expected, I have learned a lot. I've learned that every state is different when it comes to public records and how available they are, sometimes it goes down to every county; I've learned that it's not too hard to get an unpublished number, but can be very hard to verify that the person who answers it is your bad guy; and I've learned that the county assessor's office in Nye County, Nevada rocks.
I don't have this guy yet, but I'm close, like 98% there. This evening, during the time when telemarketers like to call, I'll be calling that unpublished number and then hopefully I'll know.
Monday, February 22, 2010
Next door to great breakfast place
NOT the café
NOT seventy bucks
Well, looks like the café wins. I’ll take advantage of the quiet to read or write a bit, then I’ll watch some Rockford Files on Hulu before I toss and turn and freeze my ass off for a miserable few hours until I finally give up and walk to the gym to work out and shower.
Then, I’ll walk over to the Grill for breakfast and then head back to the café to get ready for what will surely be one of the longest days ever.
I hate getting stuck here, I don’t know what the hell I was thinking when I bought a rear-wheel drive car two years ago instead of a four wheel drive anything.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
It's not that there's nothing going on, there's plenty going on.
I cleaned my room, for instance.
I did get to see "Black Dynamite" the other night, and it is the funniest movie I have seen in a long, long time. I had a headache from laughing before it was over.
Check it out.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Sunday, January 31, 2010
"It takes about three years."
"Three years?" He looked shocked.
"It usually does. It's a different world. You have to get used to a paler set of colors, a quieter lot of sounds. You have to allow for relapses. All the people you used to know well will get to be just a little strange. You won't even like most of them, and they won't like you too well."
Three years? Well, hell, three weeks down.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Ok, since I didn't die, or bend my car, on the way to work, and since there is a fairly good chance that the other two people who are supposed to come in today will make it as well, and since the snow brings lots of skiers and snowboarders into town, and since my kids are all holed up nice and safe, and since the Lincoln County Grill is only a couple of blocks away, easy walking when it's too nasty to drive, and since they have bomb ass huevos rancheros, I will not bitch and moan about the 8" of new snow that I woke up to at 6 am, the hour long ass clenching session that was my drive to work, or the fact that it is still snowing and that I will undoubtedly spend my day off tomorrow re-shoveling the cafe's roof.
Right now I am still basking in the glow that is two over easy eggs perched on corn tortillas and smothered in red chile and cheese slopped up against fried potatoes and beans with bacon and a big ass flour tortilla.
How does one eat this big, gorgeous, sloppy mess? Well, I start by tearing the tortilla into triangles, which I then fill with a little bit of everything else on the plate, fold tight, lean well over the plate, make sure there are plenty of napkins handy, and...go.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Friday, January 22, 2010
Just deleted another.
Hmmmmmm, what's new?
Well, I grew a mustache, for one. Not a beard or goatee with mustache, just a plain old fashioned (and out of fashion) stand alone 'stache. It has been called a copstache, a pornstache, and a mo. I call it Linda.
I named it Linda after being told that I just had to name it. I usually name things Carl...I just think it's funny...but the thought of a hairy Carl on my lip kinda didn't do it for me, so Linda it was.
A hairy Linda I can handle, reminds me of the 80s.
Em hates Linda. Last weekend, as I was getting into my car, Em pulled into the lot, rolled her window down, and shouted, "Shave that goddamned thing off!"
That's my precious angel.
I told her later that Linda and I wanted to talk to her about her attitude.
"I hate Linda, and she's not my mom!" was her answer.
So, yeah, that's new.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Sunday, January 3, 2010
I lean back, my eyes closed against the light, a warm orange glow on the backs of my eyelids, the cold metal of the Tecate can perspiring in my hand as the sound of gently lapping water just reaches my ears.
Wait, that’s the floor drain backing up and flooding the dish room again. Shit. At least the Tecate is real.
It is day nine of Hell Week and it is starting to show. A couple of mornings ago I sat on the couch drooling and slurring my speech, wondering if I’d had a mild stroke, then Danny kindly pointed out that I still had my toothbrush in my mouth. I’m not sure that’s better.
Saturday morning I sent a text to Brett to ask how the weekend had gone at Café Z. I was sure it was Sunday afternoon.
I hope everyone is having a good 2010 so far, though I've got to say that I feel ripped off. Where is my flying car? My vacation on the moon? And the robot wives? Well, they're here and it turns out that they're just kinda creepy.