Last night, I had a strange dream about the owner of the Grill. Let me take it back…
Yesterday was the 20th anniversary party at the Grill, an event titled, “To All the Chefs I’ve Loved Before.” To commemorate 20 years of grilling, the owner, the Man, called back some of the chefs he had previously employed, who had since moved on to cheffing and owning their own restaurants, to return to the Grill and each cook a course for the pleasure of the crowds. I was put on the party as the oyster shucker, but had been unsure of my exact role for the night. I figured that the Returning Chefs would pretty much have the food covered. Wrong. The very first course of the evening, to my horror, was titled, “Super Raw Bar…” which could only mean one thing.
I arrived early in the afternoon after waiting tables at the hotel. It had been a slow day at the hotel, interesting only when my musky Indian coworker made a 5 gallon pot of steaming hot iced tea, which should have been a 5 gallon pot of steaming hot coffee. I had never before seen so brazen and unusual a fuck-up. Anyway, I got over to the Grill around 3:30PM and immediately went about my task of rinsing and icing up about 360 oysters and 120 clams. At the preshift meeting I asked the Man if it was a coincidence that all the chefs he’s loved before happen to be men. I think it was the over-fatigue talking, and I wasn’t the only one blushing after the fool words left my mouth.
The raw bar was complete and ready to rock well before the 6:30PM start time, so I turned my focus to creative tasks, like changing the chalkboards to appropriate 20 year anniversary slogans such as, “Celebrate the bidecadial.” At one point all the cooks were bunched up, staring with beedy eyes at my chalkboard that read, “Come, celebrate the bidecadial.” What the fuck is a bidecadial? they called out to me. Flippantly I replied, go ask Bill Safire. The Man came over and I BS’ed him and the managers into momentarily believing that “bidecadial” was a word, and it perplexed the customers & revelers throughout the celebration. The celebration of the bidecadial.
The celebration kicked off around 6PM, which was when people began amassing at the bar. The Man gave the green light to me and my wingman, Dan, and we began the mass slaughter of oysters. Oyster juices and half shells were literally flying into the air and got all over my shirt, face & hair. We pumped them out. Many hundreds total shellfish throughout the cocktail hour. It made me feel like a man to kill so much. At one point I felt so much like a man that I thought I’d grown facial hair. It was merely an oyster, cut free from its shell, plastered on my upper lip. A couple of the clams had partially opened shells from which they witnessed the carnage, and they tried to run away, but I scooped them up & they were rapidly vivesected. The celebration of the bidecadial.
At 7:30PM it was all over and the only shellfish remaining were in a small pile under ice on the raw bar, quivvering like a jellomold. Purple oyster blood and juices covered every square inch of my skin & clothes, and my teeth were stained purple because some of the oysters had resisted the knife, forcing me to rip them open with my canines & incisors. I counted the remaining oysters and subtracted them from the starting figures, and then reported loudly to all revelers the total destruction. Over 300 shellfish had gone down throats. Some customers had become addicted to the oyster juices throughout the mania, and now had to be hooked up to machines that would let them come down slowly off their fix. They trembled from withdrawal, as I took off my butcher apron and packed up the refugee oysters. Super raw bar.
On my way out the door the celebration of the bidecadial was in full swing. I didn’t know what to make of it, my role had been fulfilled. I shook the Man’s hand and congratulated him on 20 years of all that. He looked at me, dripping with oyster juices, and then over at the raw bar itself, which looked something like what the Alamo might have looked like had there been over 300 hundred Davy Crocketts slaughtered instead of just one. Minus all the cooncaps, natch. The Man shook his head slowly, and I could almost hear him whisper, “You’re fired.” Instead, he barked loudly, “That raw bar is a mess. I will be talking to you all about cleaning up better.” I nodded, and left, stinking of the sea.
After I got home, took a shower & relaxed a minute, I decided that it had not been a gracious exit for such an occasion. In clean clothes, with only a bit of purple left behind my ears and under my fingernails, I returned to the Grill. Thanked the Man for hiring me and properly congratulated him on his bidecadial achievement. Then I went to the Hess gas station and bought me four Reese’s peanut butter cups and I ate those. That made me feel much better. So anyway, last night I had the weirdest dream, and it was about the owner of the Grill:
My friend from Chicago came to visit me in Boston but got arrested. I bailed him out of jail but then lost track of where he was. Turns out he was pawning this gold ring he had for some crack cocaine (?). I was so disappointed but determined to get him back, I prowled the streets in my car. Finally, I located my friend, scooped him up in the whip and drove him to an apartment I was renting in New York City (?). It was a tiny apartment with one big bed, and I put my friend to sleep on one side of the bed and lay down to sleep on the other side. The Man came shuffling in, and tucked us both in (?). He said, “Goodnight,” and then left.
I need a day off.