Sunday, February 8, 2009

Guest Gentleman - Happy Birthday George

This is our second Guest Gentleman post, and I'm happy to welcome Ali Daniels to the stage with a story about a very unique birthday party...

"First of all, it is an honor to be among such gentlemen. I thoroughly enjoy reading your thoughts each day. Now, when I originally talked to Jason, I asked if I could submit a post about my recent behavioral observations in Pittsburgh at the AFC Championship Game. It would have questioned our need to resort to unintelligent personal attacks in such situations, (I very well may be Joe Flacco’s lesbian sister, but I don’t think that’s going to have much of an impact on the game we’re currently watching, and isn’t that supposed to be the focus of our trash talk?) and I’m sure it would have been just dandy and I hope you would have chuckled at some of the doozies I heard.

Then, something happened at work tonight that changed everything.

I am a hostess two nights a week at a great little restaurant called FEAST at 4 East. (**Shameless Plug: If you’re ever in Baltimore on a Thurs, Fri, or Sat evening, you really have to check us out. Huge portions of fabulous food at very reasonable prices. Just ask JohnOzkirbas!) Normally, Thursdays are a little bit slower than the weekend nights, but we just knew that tonight would be special, and it was all because of Suzanne Evans.

Suzanne, it had been explained to me, used to come in for lunch over the summer. She is very difficult, very demanding, very particular, and to top it all off, very hard of hearing. She had called to make a reservation for 10 people at 6 p.m. Then she called back, insisting that they be seated in our garden dining room. (We already had another party of 10 scheduled for that room. We told her we couldn’t promise anything. Luckily for her, the other party scaled down to five people at the last minute.) Then she called back again. They’d actually be coming in at 5:30. (Ok, that’s fine.) Then she called back again.

And again.

And again.

She talked to Sandy (our owner and head chef). She talked to Maia (our sous chef). And then, according to Sam, (assistant sous chef? no, assistant TO the sous chef) she left a 10-minute message on our machine.

She asked questions. “Is it ok if I say a prayer?” (Um, it’s a free country lady. You can say whatever you want before you eat.) “Can I play my own music if I bring a tape deck?” (A resounding and well-deserved NO.)

And she told us everything we never wanted to know about her reason for dining with us that evening. It was her husband, George’s, birthday. (Great, we’ll sing!) He was turning 61. (Ok.) It’s his first birthday ever. (I doubt that.) Apparently George’s parents didn’t believe in birthday parties. (That’s kind of weird. Why’d you wait so long to throw him one then?) She’s 62. (So what you’re saying is you’re bad at throwing parties and you’re a cradle robber?) They were coming with a group of Christian visual performing artists. (Ok.) One of them was going to sing something. (We’ll see about that.) She’s bipolar. (Oh, no wait. That’s just what Sandy thinks; she didn’t actually say that.)

As it turns out, Jason (server), knows George. He used to come in for lunch with Suzanne. And they’d fight. Loudly. Great. I’m excited.

So 5:30 rolls around, and no one’s here yet, but that’s ok, because we’re running a little late getting set-up anyway. I throw some makeup on, fill glasses with ice, and sit down to wait. Finally, at 5:50, a lone woman comes in holding some gifts. She waits in the parlor for a while, until she sees someone on the porch through the window. She calls out, “George, you shouldn’t be out there. Come inside!” and then disappears outside. Moments later, Suzanne herself walks in. She doesn’t want to wait for the other guests; she wants to sit at the table. She’s alone. As I seat her, she asks if I want to see what she made for her “poor husband who’s sick with diabetes.” (Sure, why not? Where is he, by the way?) It’s a candlestick holder with some flowers and birds, so I help her light the candle, and she sits at the head of the table.

That’s when things got weird.

After another few minutes, more of the guests trickle in, including a gentleman accompanying the first woman who arrived. They’ve brought gifts, balloons, and a cake, so I take the cake to the kitchen, and then return to start pouring water. That’s when I think I hear Suzanne mention that George is sick and won’t be able to make it tonight. (So wait, he’s too sick to make it, but you’re having his party anyway? Without him? But there are balloons and presents and a cake that says “Happy Birthday, George.”) I figure I must have misheard her. There are still two people missing. I’m sure George is coming with them.

But the other two people don’t show up, and neither does George. I hear Suzanne giving a speech about how much it would have meant to George to see all of them there, and how sorry he is that he had to miss the occasion. (I’m relatively certain his birthday is still happening to him, Suzanne. You just ABANDONED him for it because he was too sick to make his party.) I tell Jason that I don’t think George is coming. He’s just as stunned as I am. He thinks George stood Suzanne up. I’m not so sure. This is just too weird.

Finally, at 6:45 (an hour and 15 minutes after their reservation, mind you), they decide to start ordering. At 7:15 the remaining two members of their party show up. I’m glad that Sam didn’t take my bet, because I was sure they weren’t going to show at all and I would have lost $10. They’re loud and a little strange, but you see that pretty frequently in the restaurant business. We just shake our heads and do our jobs.

Toward the end of the meal, I remind Jason that they brought a cake, and suggest that he ask Suzanne what she wants to do with it. Hopefully she can take it home to poor sick George with diabetes. The next time I’m in the kitchen, though, George’s cake is out on the counter with two candles reading “61” stuck in it. Jason can barely contain himself as he informs me that no, they want the cake, candles and birthday song and all. (Wait a second. You’re going to eat his cake? Without him?!) Yes. Apparently they are. Not only that, but they’re opening George’s cards as well. And reading them out loud. I’m surprised they’re not tearing into the gifts.

So we prepare to sing happy birthday to a room full of people, none of whom are celebrating a birthday. Moments before we’re about to go on, the aforementioned gentleman gets up, puts on his jacket, and walks toward the door with the gifts. (I hear him say that he can’t carry the presents while he’s helping Suzanne to the car. Makes sense.)

But wait!

Chet (other server) asks where he’s going – certainly he doesn’t want to miss the cake? (Chet and I, I should mention, love singing the birthday song. We sing it in Italian, and there are harmonies. Trust me, this guy did not want to miss it.) Oh no, he says. He’s just taking these gifts out to the birthday boy.

(Wait wait wait wait wait just one second here. WHAT?!)

That’s right, folks. George is in the car. Let me repeat that for you. GEORGE. IS IN. THE CAR. He has been this whole time. Well, except for those few moments that he was on our front stoop. (Yeah, remember the first woman who called to someone outside? Well apparently George didn’t want to come in.) We all run to the kitchen. This story has just gotten better than we ever imagined it could… (I think I’ll blog about it.)

And so we lit the candles and sang happy birthday to a man who had been sitting in the cold outside our restaurant, and spent the rest of the night speculating about what kept him out there. Why refuse to come in to your own birthday party? Had he and Suzanne gotten into another fight? Was he legitimately not feeling well? Or perhaps after 60 years, he didn’t want a birthday party in the first place.

What kind of a sad life does poor George who has diabetes lead? I almost wish I had gone out and checked up on him. I definitely wish I had brought him a piece of his cake. And maybe I could have found out how he ended up there, because now I know that the last place I want to be on my 61st birthday is out in the car."

12 comments:

Ozkirbas said...

Heh. I was banking on George being dead. That's a relief

Damo said...

Sounds like death is the only relief George has left. :-/

Daniel said...

that's friggin hilarious. working in customer service will make you hate people so fast. i know i do.

Anonymous said...

"First of all, it is an honor to be among such gentlemen." - You, milady, need to raise your sights.

Daniel said...

oh cool, an anonymous insult. i'd leave one on your blog, but either you don't have one, or you're too much of a coward to let anyone know what it is.

anyway, keep up the good work!

Ozkirbas said...

Have at thee, anonymous man!

Jason Heat said...

dudes, our first slam! we've totally made it.

ali d said...

And it was on MY guest post! I feel like a superstar!

Damo said...

If that is what it means to make it I am (as usual) way ahead of the curve. I spent most of my primary and secondary education "making it." B-)

Blogden Nash said...

I am outraged! How dare you try to lie to your readers like this! I have met Ali Daniels, and she is no gentleman! A lady, certainly, an officer, perhaps, but not a gentleman!
Hurrmph!

Ozkirbas said...

GASP!

Scandalous Wench!

David Pratt said...

George didn't leave the car because he was with a hooker.

Happy birthday to him indeed.