When I Need A Pick Me Up, by my friend Ryan King

Friday, December 21, 2007

My Night Job, "Bizarro Shift"

So, Red comes in to visit on a regular basis now that she and Snapper are kickin' it. I like that she's still a cool enough gal that she doesn't fawn all over him, but she does make her appearances. He gets more googly-eyed than she does, in fact. This I know because I caught them having a moment out of the corner of my eye.

Try as I might, my mood lost a little altitude. I wouldn't take the fulfillment of human connection away from anyone, I promise. I just think there's enough to go around and I'm ready for my share.

Later on during the shift, I remarked to my co-workers how A.D. Annie gave me Wednesday night off when she realized that I really did want to stay home that Monday afternoon, and she forced me by sheer force of will to dig my car out of the ice and come in. She felt partly guilty, and partly she wanted to give one of her seasonal employees more hours. Fine with me. But I told Snapper and company that I might take advantage of my Wednesday by going to Caroline's. I was speaking aloud, mainly, just testing how it would sound to actually have a nightlife.

Snapper's ears pricked up catlike. "Who's Caroline?!"
Me: "It's a comedy club. A radio DJ that I like hosts a comedy night there on Wednesdays."
Snapper: "Awww...I thought you had a girl! I was going to say 'Way to go, son...!' "
I forced a smile. After all, the lad cared. "The student becomes the master," said I.
And then I proceeded to wish myself intense bodily harm for the remainder of the night.

Snapper called me "son". His 21st birthday was a few weeks ago. It's amazing what poon on the regular can do to the male ego. Turns mice into wildebeests.

Shortly thereafter, A.D. Annie blurted out for all of us to hear; Sexy Minx was 5 months pregnant and a month married to her baby daddy. So her Botticelli frame was due to maternity. Imagine how Sexy the Minx really has to be to pull off flirtation after having just gotten married and while carrying her nu-husband's second child. Now imagine how staggered I am, reeling from the second reversal of outrageous fortune. I mean, despite my Herculean efforts to resist the absurd notion, our flirting always came with a salacious thrill. A courting of wicked deeds, if you will. A possibility of a lightning round assignation in the back against the frozen scones. But of course, not anymore. Two children and a husband is WAY different than a baby and a boyfriend.

Meanwhile, Scullery has proven herself to be as unstable to others as she has to me. They mention to me in passing how little they like her because she spends so much time chatting and yakking to customers or on the phone, and does so little actual work. It's a fact that I cannot deny. She has reduced the instances of her ill-timed malevolence, however, so I feel less threatened by her. Now I just try to avoid her. Snapper informed me that when I tried to call out on Monday, Scullery told everyone that it was because I didn't want to work with her. So unfortunately, even though Scullery chugs through the night like a Mack truck on the Motormouth Highway, she's got feelings and a sensitivity that I now must take into account.


As I mentioned earlier, we have had a number of "Seasonals" added to the cast during the holiday. Collegiates who have been working in the cafe for years come flocking back to pick up extra dosh. One of them is The Cutie, who I remember working with two years ago only because she has a something that snatched my attention to her. It could be her horn-rimmed glasses. Self-possessed and confidently trendy without being overt. And just cute.

Another one is a fellow who I've decided, after great deliberation, to call Gay Actually. This is a young Asian man who you would only know is gay when he talks about his boyfriend. Otherwise, there is no other distinction apparent about him. He's an energetic, collegebound, laughy, verbal and friendly guy who wants to be liked and accepted. He makes no angsty presentations. He is not emo. He is not a drama major. The only flaws I find in him is that his energy brims over to the point where I had to beg him to stop whistling once last week. Thankfully, he doesn't whistle as much as Snapper snaps. But this boi is actually happy. And thus, my name for him.

Last night, Gay Actually's father came in to the cafe. His dad might possibly be a few years older than myself, but only a few. Think Asian Gentleman's Casual. Scullery was at the register ringing him up when Actually stepped behind her to use his numbers for the discount of his father's purchase. When Scullery discovered that it was his father, she squealed with Angela Lansburian delight. (That's how I learned Actually had this familial tie.) Scullery gushed about Actually to his father, and Actually entered a series of blushes and self-deprecating chuckles. Then his father actually said to Scullery--with Actually standing right there-- "I'm very proud of my son!"

What's my weakness, bois and grrls? Riiiiight. Fathers and Sons. So how was I feeling at this point? Well, yes, you would think so, wouldn't you? Except earlier on in the week, I'd been knocked down a peg or two by the sudden masculine ascendence of Snapper, and then thrown under the bus by the discovery that Sexy Minx was a married mother of two. So to now see a well-adjusted gay son being doted on by his traditional Asian father?!

I was ready to put the steam wand of the espresso machine into my eyesocket and broil my brains out. There's only so much uplift a sad sack can witness in any given week, people. I mean let's be real.

The night drifted on towards an interminable finish and two things happened. One of which I am proud of, and one which I'm not so much.

A pert little customer, either a grad student or a professional heading to or from her office, was ready to give her order to Scullery while she was chatting up a previous customer, as usual. When this happens, I often intervene because, damn. Who wants to stand there waiting for Scullery to shut her fat gob? So I ask Pert Customer what I can start making for her. On the way to asking her, a Rude Customer hijacked my attempt to help her by shotgunning me with the question, "What size is medium?" Ordinarily the answer is "Medium is Grande" but I was on a mission to help the stranded Pert Customer so I fired back at Rude, "Medium is medium." Something in the exasperated tone of my voice made Pert Customer laugh. She laughed quite a bit. It was apparent that she didn't want to, but there it went. It made me laugh too. And laughter doeth good like a medicine. So I took her order while Scullery went obliviously on yakking away. Here's how it went;

She: "Mocha latte blah-blah bloopity bloop (ed., paraphrased). Decaf!"
I repeat, "Mocha latte blah-blah bloopity bloop, decaf."
She: "Yes! Decaf, please. You don't want to keep me up all night, do you?"
Me: *A pregnant pause and a smile.* Then "I ... think I'll refrain from commenting on that one. I need this job."
I begin to fix her drink, heart thudding in my chest, knowing that oh my god, OH MY GOD I did it! This time, I've really gone and did it. I flirted actually. Not just in-my-head, handing-off-a-drink, imagining-I'm-sexy! I can barely look up from the latte for fear of what I might see. But I do. I peek. And she's peeking back, not overtly, but as if she too is amazed by the set-up. Like, "where are the hidden cameras?"
Scullery finally gets around to her and rings her up, THANK GODFULLY deflecting the attention away from me as I top off her decaf with whip cream and garnish. I hand it off to her with a grin I cannot for love nor money prevent.
She: "Thank you."
Me: "Thank you. And ... pleasant dreams."
She:" "Oh I will do."



Wasn't that WONDERFUL?!?! I'm grinning right now just remembering it!! It was awesome!! I was awesome!!! I am a Sexy Bastard!!!

Lastly, on a very special "My Night Job..."

Scullery was running off at the mouth with Actually Gay. The three of us were left to close the cafe and most of the customers had gone. Even Wont Go Away Girl went away. Scullery ACTUALLY asks Actually, "So how does your father deal with your lifestyle?"

Now, do not get me wrong dear readers. Every cell in me wanted to know that exact answer from the moment I had heard his father crow about his son. But of course I wasn't going to ask him because up until the Pert Customer Incident, I was too melancholy to put it the right way without sounding like a regretful closeted gay man envying the freedom and acceptance Actually was enjoying. And I didn't need Actually later on telling Snapper that I asked this kind of question, since Snapper is apparently aware of the fact that I am without a "Caroline" or any other such female. So leave it up to the diarrhetic yapper of Scullery!! Woohoo!!

The part that I'm not proud of is this; Actually answered Scullery by telling her that he used to be pretty wild, but he's calmed down a lot and so his father and he get along a lot better now than they used to. Then Scullery said something else and Actually said, "Oh, you mean about my being gay? Oh, my father doesn't know."

And I was shamefully relieved. Actually Gay's father wasn't accepting and unconditional and atypical. He was blissfully unaware.

The world was not as bizarro as I thought it was last night. And I do hope for good things between Actually and his father, honestly. I hope he doesn't disown Actually and do a hundred things that a traditional Asian father might do to an outed gay son. But I just don't want them to not do it in front of me. Have your fuzzy warm Hallmark special at home so I don't have to battle suicidal tendencies during this Christmas season.

I'm just sayin'.


Lara Croft said...

Working in a call center clearly I am exposed to gay men, queenish even, one particular lad 21 yrs of age and quite queenish still lives with his parents, and they clearly love him unconditionally, he has a fantastic friendship with them. He is a hard worker and in some ways more mature than a lot of 30 something men I know.

GrizzBabe said...

So unfortunately, even though Scullery chugs through the night like a Mack truck on the Motormouth Highway, she's got feelings and a sensitivity that I now must take into account.

You're such a good guy.

I was going to write a comment remarking that anyone (straight or gay) would envy Gay Actually's relationship with his dad but then the ending occured and I was so disappointed. I so wanted to believe that that kind of unconditional love and acceptance happened outside of the divine.

And you sexy little devil, you! You keep that up and you'll find yourself a girlfriend yet. Very proud of ya'!

Alan said...

I'll take all those compliments, Grizz! Thanks!

Scullery's a trip, but basically she just doesn't know how to be subtle. She wants to have conversation, but she doesn't seem to know the social rules. It might even be that she was raised in a culture with different rules. Maybe it's normal in the village she grew up in just to open your mouth and spill whatever's in your head. Most of the customers with whom she yak-yaks enjoy it, but I would have to be the customer behind that one, waiting for her to zip it.

Also, Grizz, that was the part that I'm not proud of--when I realized that Gay Actually's father wasn't actually showing unconditional acceptance, it that made me feel less melancholy. It's what we talked about before--getting the blues when we see great relationships between a father and their child. I was just relieved to see that things were as I expected them to be, and here was a person I didn't have to envy. Is that terrible?

Yeah, Lara, Gay Actually is not queeny. It's a bit of a disconnect when he talks about his boyfriend. And isn't that just the conundrum of life? Despite the attempt not to stereotype people, it's still strange to hear a "straight" person talking about same-sex partner.

I wish Coaster Punchman were here to give me his perspective. I feel crappy about my feelings.

Lara Croft said...

Well I am still going to wish you a blessed 2008, and may it bring the answers you seek and maybe even a connection that makes you smile :-)

Alan said...

Thanks, Lara! I'm working on a post just now that will show you that your wish for me is about to come true!

And I so wish the same for you. All of you.

All of you is the reason why I feel so alive and vital again.