Wednesday, April 30, 2008

staff meal tonight

Jalapeno poppers procured from an undisclosed source, fried and strategically layered on a bed of what appear to be diced peppers and tomatoes among half-cup globules of sour cream in the bottom of a paella pan.

On top of this a perfectly round tortilla espanol is balanced like an egg frisbee.

On top of that, a heaping glob of alioli. Garnished with five small specks of chive.

This "meal" looks terrifying.

Do you think the kitchen staff was mad at us?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Tonight at Toro we ran out of "the corn."

If you have ever eaten at Toro you know, this is a really big deal. Chaos ensued. Yuppies adopted sour pusses. Mild mannered hipsters seemed ready to riot. Disgruntled South Enders stiffed the waitstaff left and right.

It was a restaurant crisis of epic proportions.

Monday, April 28, 2008


Our new host is a social worker by day, host at Toro by night. We are chatting after our shift over a glass (or three) of wine about the woes of working the door at a busy restaurant.

"People reveal their psychological problems so openly and easily during the course of a dining experience," I say. "All the food protective behaviors, control issues, eating disorders. All out there, right in the open at dinner. It's crazy."

"Oh, trust me, I know," he says. "I see it all. I can spot a sociopath in a second when working the door at Toro."

"Hahaha," I laugh and take a sip of my wine. "Wait a sec -- can you?"

"Mm-hmm," he nods.

"You're actually trained to recognize this stuff. Are you serious?"

"Oh yeah. You can totally tell. They're very calculating. They're in your face, looking over the list, surveying the entire scene of the restaurant before you can even quote them a wait time. They know exactly who is getting up when. They may try to be your friend, but they've always got an eye on where they can weasel in on the list and how they can get a table faster."

"Huh. Interesting. So, you've seated sociopaths? How often?"

"I don't know. Couple times a month I guess. Not that often, but it does happen."

"Wow. And I thought I was clever for being able to spot customers with anorexia."

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Friday, April 25, 2008

hair color profiler

Tonight I went to a cocktail party/gallery opening at Space 242, the Weekly Dig's art gallery. I spent a good chunk of the night talking to a friend who has the most gorgeous long, strawberry blonde hair. It inspired me.

What do you think? Would strawberry blonde be a good direction for this experiment? Here's a pic of Rita Hayworth sporting the color as the star of the film which coined the phrase Strawberry Blonde.

I'd have to start wearing turn of the century period dress and weird little hats too, of course.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

your hair

"Hey Kitty, how are you baby?" says the bartender.

Love this bartender. We used to work together and I haven't seen him in months. It reminds me how much I miss him, miss working with all my friends here. We were a family in our own way. A dysfunctional one, but still...

"Your hair looks great," he says.

Really? My hair? What does that mean? The blondeness? That it's light? Or is he talking about the book? Or does the rest of me just look okay, but my hair looks great?

All of these questions. He is too busy to ask, his bar three deep and full of queens.

I ponder these notions anyway as I talk to my blonde friend and sip blonde wine on their open patio.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

undercover redhead

My stylist Jason sent the following text late this evening:

What do you think about taking a step on the wild side and becoming a redheaded copper top? Under cover!

Must be half in the bag
, I thought. Or...maybe he's grown bored with blonding me? Is it true? Could it be?

Have I grown bored with blonding me?

Maybe I should do it...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

tipsy tuesday...

...thanks to a LUPEC meeting, all you get is a photo... homage to Alexander & Mougins, where this pic was taken almost one year ago...

why do we drink on Marathon Monday?

Today I saw a guy in a blue suit screaming at another guy that he was a pussy and so were all of his pussy friends. They were waiting in line to get into Clery's, sometime around 5 p.m. No doubt he and his opponent (the pussy and his pussy friends) had been drinking all day, and I can only suspect that tempers were aflame because everyone were so anxious to get inside the bar and drink more.

As someone who did not have the day off and toiled away this sunny Monday in front of a computer, it was less than charming. How odd that drunk, belligerent guy looked beside the number clad runners in shorts who milled. A family with children and lawn chairs were also walking by, same time as me.

I hope everyone who was out drinking their livers off had fun today, but it certainly is an odd tradition: running, physical endurance, and health at one end of the spectrum, drinking and a whole different kind of physical endurance at the other.

Something tells me blue suit guy would have been one of those runners who pees or vomits all over himself as he goes. Of course, given his state at 5 pm, that may be happening by now anyway.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

annoying customers

Tonight I had the pleasure of waiting on one of the most annoying customers I have ever encountered. I don't know why, there was just something about him. Curt, an interrupter, but most of all, he was really aggressive, almost accusatory about everything. For example:

After I've recommended our signature dish, the corn: "MMmmhhh...corn doesn't really excite me." Like I'd recommended white rice or the plain toast.
When I asked if they'd like to order more food: "Well we were going to order the OYSTERS but you're OUT of THOSE." Like I had eaten all of the oysters myself in advance because I suspected he might want one.

Backwaiter Manuel agreed with my assessment of table 33, based on the tiniest interaction with him:

"Kitty, table 33 wants..." Manuel began.
"Table 33 is an asshole," I said. "I don't care what he wants."
"Oh, I know!" said Manuel. "I tried to bring food to his table and he said that if I wanted to bring him another table to put the food on then I could give it to him. He's so rude..." I mean seriously, Manuel doesn't need that. He works seven days a week, sixteen hours a day to support his Mamasita in Colombia. Come on.

Table 33 happened to be on a date with a very pretty woman -- like 7x prettier than him. It was a little warm in the room this evening, and microscopic beads of perspiration made his nose & forehead, his T-zone if you will, shiny. I imagined her pretty pout bracing as he leaned in to give her a sweaty faced kiss... Yech.

Must be a blind date
, I thought, but later the hostess told me I was wrong:

"That girl seems to be enjoying herself!"
"No way," I said.
"I know! I watched him spoon feed her a piece of skirt steak. Seriously."
"Ew," I said. I felt sorry that the new hostess had to see that.

I could not wait to drop the check on this inexplicably odious table. Just something about the guy at Table 33. Eventually they paid, in cash, an amount that exceeded the total bill by something outrageous, like 40%. As this guest had been super rude all evening, I assumed he liked me about as much as I did him, and returned to the table quickly with his change.

"No, no," he said, when I tried to hand him back the bill. "That's all set."

"Oh," I said. "Okay...thanks. Have a good night," I said.

It was truly one of those puzzling waitress moments. The rude guy at table 33 just left me a ridiculous tip, better than my best friends (unless they are drunk), my boyfriend, and my parents. All I could think was: Am I on candid camera or something? Is the joke somehow on me? Is Ken sending in shoppers to see calibrate the quality of service is at Toro? Surely a guest that surly wouldn't leave that much money to a hacked waitress out of the kindness of his spirit or the goodness of his heart? Or what he thought a heart would do if he had one in that black, empty space in the center of his chest.

I remain confused. The money is nice to have, of course, but seriously? It feels hollow and strange to gross such a big tip from a table I so deeply hated. I think I'd have preferred a smile.

I suppose this means my integrity is still intact.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

perfect song Saturday

Tonight I saw Leo Kottke play a concert and he played this song.

His version of this tune is one of my favorite songs ever in the history of songs. I felt so happy to be there, in the auditorium of a high school in Exeter, NH, listening to him playing in real time a song I've played over and over on my Ipod on very high volume.

It was a perfect song on a perfect spring night with a perfectly full moon.

Friday, April 18, 2008

the photograph

I am having my picture taken by a photographer from Stuff@Night today. They will be featuring me in this section of the May 6th issue (mark your calendars.) I am not totally sure how I convinced them that I am interesting enough for coverage here, but I'm trying to just go with it.

When the photographer called to set this shoot up, my first question was, "So what should I wear?" Instead of sounding poised and professional, I am pretty sure I sounded like a teenager wondering what to don for Spring Fling Semi-Formal being held in the high school gym. Again, though, I tried to just go with it.

His response: "Whatever you want. Whatever makes you feel most like you."

Whatever makes me feel most like me, huh? Well, that presents a problem. I feel most like me in yoga pants, slippers, and a tank top.

Whatever shall I do?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

my taxes...

...made me want to stick my head in the oven today. Why must everything involving the government be so hard?

Then later today, someone sent me an email that should have sent me here, but instead sent me here.

And that was pretty amazing.

It only happened for a fleeting second. The message was from a professional contact, and when I went to check it again to figure out exactly what was going on, I landed right here, on the totally correct page.

It made me think, once again, that I must have a little angel on my shoulder, watching over me, looking out for me, intent on making sure that I am having a good time.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Work Haiku

Fleet fingers flying
over tiny mac keyboard
the workday has begun.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

the worst weekend ever...

...yet it ended with me waiting on the nicest people ever tonight.

The nicest people ever don't always come to Toro. But they did tonight. An elderly couple, fashionable and chic -- she wore enormous pink glasses and he wore something like an ascot. An old regular whom I haven't seen in over a year -- I've been taking his order since I was 22. Nice Europeans who speak excellent English and, despite their European-ness, still tip me 18%.

It made me believe that there is a special angel who watches over us service industry folk, and that somehow she miraculously knew that having my ass handed to me tonight would have put me over the edge. WAY over the edge.

Instead, she put gems of humanity in my section.

I'm so lucky...

Saturday, April 12, 2008

thoughts on other soulless industries...

...from my favorite blonde:

Hollywood is a place where they'll pay you a thousand dollars for a kiss and fifty cents for your soul.
- Marilyn Monroe

Friday, April 11, 2008

today I felt thoroughly convinced...

That my industry has no soul.

Then I began to wonder if any industry has soul.

Then I began to ponder the evils of capitalism.

It was all downhill from there...

Thursday, April 10, 2008

past lives

I am having lunch with my former advisor from high school. Like, high school -- it feels like it was 100 years ago.

She is running a little late, so I am sitting at Garden of Eden seule, deeply engrossed in the most recent issue of the Weekly Dig. I pay attention though, through the corner of my eye. Whenever I see a hint of motion, I look vain, to see my favorite waiter leaving as he closes out his shift, a man in a sport coat looking for a table for one, a woman in track pants waiting for a friend. It keeps not being her and I keep reading.

Then suddenly I hear a familiar voice..."Kirsten...? Hi!" There she is!

"Oh my god, hi!" I say and we hug. "It's you! Wow!"

"I know," she says, "I didn't see you at first! I was looking for red!"

Red...? I think. Then I recall: this woman knew me 100 years ago when I was fifteen years old and SO MATURE and had red hair. It was so long ago, such a different life I almost forgot. She knew all of my early hair phases in fact -- Manic Panic Deadly Night Shade (pinky-purple), Ultra Violet (very purple), Fire Engine Red (exactly what it sounds like), henna (when I transitioned into my hippie phase).

Oh, how far we have come since then...

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

how was your night?

A rogue piece of rice from the paella I was wrapping up for Table 48 somehow found it's way all the way down my shirt.

Table 51 suggested that I lick their plates clean for them when I asked if they were ready for me to clear. "We wouldn't blame you if you did -- everything was delicious," they assured me. (My response: Thanks...I think I'm all set.)

And table 52 order two rounds of single malt shots? Because I guess THATs what the kids are up to these days...

Just the tip of the iceberg on my night. How 'bout yourself?

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

truth, fiction, eh? let's get a drink.

Can someone explain to me how Ben Mezrich's imaginatively enhanced nonfiction is different/more okay than what James Frey did?

With the amount of scandal that faux-memoirists and creative non-fiction liars have caused in the past few months, I find it odd that more people aren't upset about this author's free-wheeling take on the genre.

I seem to be the only person in publishing who wasn't totally outraged by the whole James Frey thing, and the last thing I want to do is run Ben Mezrich up on a rail here, especially since I haven't yet read his NYT bestseller Bringing Down the House. I also think that people tend to be too naive about print media, assuming that because something is inked on newsprint in the Globe or the Times or printed in a book, it's a real, honest to God fact. I tend to view media with a more suspicious eye, largely because so many of my cohorts in my Sarah Lawrence days were borderline conspiracy theorists. In the end, everything we write & say is filtered through our bias, thus whatever version of "the truth" a person tells is actually more like a fact-opinion-bias-based cocktail; we can only hope that it's well balanced.

But yeah, this article makes Ben Mezrich sound like Pinocchio. I'm just saying...

Monday, April 07, 2008

my favorite blonde...

"Well, if it isn't my favorite blonde!" a familiar voice booms behind me. I turned around from the computer screen, where I am frantically typing in Table 40s order -- one of my favorite Boston chefs is standing behind me.

"Hey you! What's up? How are you? Long time no see!" I greet him with a big hug and a kiss. He is here tonight for the private, friends and family exclusive screening of Iron Chef America: the Ken Oringer edition. LOTS of chefs are here, actually, as well as various other "important" city folk -- owners of sports teams, former investors, important friends who go way, way back with my boss -- hey, I don't need to know the back story, all I need to know is that almost every single person in here is SUPER VIP. They are mixing and mingling with various & sundry restaurant industry professionals, regulars, parents, cousins, etc.

And I am in an incarnation of Waitress Hell. The place is so packed & congested that my job -- serving said VIPs dinner -- has become next to impossible. I can't hear a word my VIPs are saying over the ruckus, it takes five minutes to get to their table to check on them in the first place because the dining room has become a veritable obstacle course, and no one really wants to talk to me in the first place once I get there -- I keep getting in someones way, blocking the view of the TV. I have never been good at video games, with their car chases & incessant burrowing, but tonight I feel like I'm in one, dodging chairs and rich peoples' suit lapels with hands full of dirty plates -- don't drop that paella pan! One misstep and it could land in a famous person's lap. Total cluster-fuck.

Then the blonde comment. And suddenly I am transported from Waitress Hell into my blonde universe -- Undercover Blonde land, where all I think about is hair, in service of this project & my book. I recall the tentative first time I referred to myself as a blonde in public, wondering if they'd stop me, interrupt me, correct me -- Would they bust me as an underneath-it-all brunette...? How devious & satisfying it felt to get away with it.

Gee, I'm his favorite blonde! I think. Then again, I bet he says that to all the girls. Still, I'm delighted. I've known this chef since long before the blonde project began -- I wonder if he remembers me from back then? I wonder if he's noticed a difference?

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Saturday, April 05, 2008

100 years of Bette Davis

If Bette Davis were alive, today she'd turn 100. Some interesting articles about her career and her successes can be read here and here.

A two time Oscar winner, the indefatiguable Davis hailed from the Bay State (one source says Lowell, another Newton -- I'll have to do some more research to be sure.) I can't think of a single actress working in Hollywood now whom I'd compare to her -- they just don't make 'em like they used to.

More on Bette Davis later as she's a (sometimes) blonde who truly catches my fancy and always has -- for now, let's raise a toast to the Grand Dame of a bygone era by trying one of these, which she sipped on camera in the film Dark Victory, which she appeared in with Humphrey Bogart and Ronald Reagan. (I'd like to also give a shout out to one of my fellow LUPEC Boston broads, who chose this cocktail as her namesake.)

Pink Gin

1 glass gin
half a dozen drops (no more) of Angostura bitters

Stir with ice & strain into a cocktail glass.

Happy Birthday, Bette Davis!

Friday, April 04, 2008

Is this really a headline...?

81% in Poll Say Nation Is on the Wrong Track

That's the headline? In the New York Times? Really?

When I saw it on my Google homepage this morning I was instantly confused. I have my little IGoogle thingy set up with news from the NYT on the left side of the page, and "news" from the Onion on the right. Below are my horoscope, the weather, book and fashion news, celeb gossip, etc.

I mistook this NYT headline, in all its glorious vagary, as a piece of mock journalism culled from the Onion. I wasn't confident that this was a sincere article penned by real NYT journalists until, oh, paragraph three. I guess it's the absurd open-endedness of this blanket statement -- at first I didn't believe it was real.

Sadly, I think this is a definite case of "It's funny 'cuz it's true..."

Thursday, April 03, 2008


I am walking through the South End on a bright, gorgeous, sunny April afternoon. I'm on the way home from my office on the way south side of SoWa to my apartment on Warren Ave to meet the plumber, who should be there at 3 p.m. As I cross Shawmut I shuffle around in my pocket to check the time on my cell phone: 2:45. Perfect, I'll be there just in time.

As usual, I am bag-ladened as I walk: laptop bag on one shoulder, handbag on the other, grocery bag in my right hand, cell phone in my left, and I'm digging around in my pockets contemplating the purchase of today's Globe from the newspaper box on the corner of Shawmut and Union Park if I have enough change.

I don't.

I jostle my bags around in an ill-fated attempt to get my phone back into my purse and get my bag zipped up again without having my laptop fall off my shoulder, all while crossing the street. In the midst of all this I am not watching the road, but my ears perk up at the sound of the robust rumbling of oversized tires and the faint thumping of hip-hop...

What is that???

I scurry across the street as quickly as I can trying not to drop anything, and pause to reassemble myself once I've reached the other side. I raise my gaze just in time to see massive backhoe take a generous right turn onto Union Park.

The driver takes his eyes way off the road to give me a solid once over as he rolls by. He's leaned waaay back in the driver's seat, totally feeling whatever it is that he's listening to up there in the cab of the backhoe--I can't hear a thing over the construction vehicle's rumble. I receive a faint nod as he passes and the backhoe fades off into the distance and makes a left onto Shamwut.

I totally just got cruised by a guy in a backhoe.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

food protective behavior

So, what's up with food protective people who won't let you clear their plates, even when you know they are done?

I encounter all manner of weird food issues as a waitress: people who won't allow you to cook their food in ANY FAT WHATSOEVER ("NO! Butter, NO! Oil! Or it's YOUR ASS!"), people who demand that you hold the starch and add extra greens to everything (very common, thanks Atkins/South Beach diet-craze), people who freak if your restaurant deigns to complicate their wildly complex & totally psychotic diet-food regimen. But I have to say, one of the weirdest food issues I encounter semi-regularly is when people REFUSE to let you clear their plates, even when they are quite obviously already done eating their meal. It happened tonight and the interaction went something like this:

I realize that Table 42 has not touched their patatas bravas in a while. They seem totally engrossed in their conversation and the table looks messy and wasted beneath them-- crumbs everywhere, bits of corn and cheese all over the place. Yech, I'd love to clean that up and get them all set for dessert. I make my way over to see if I can help.

ME: May I take these plates out of the way, ladies?
WOMAN: No, we're okay. We're still working.
ME: Oh, okay. No rush.

They resume their conversation, and I smile and walk away.

Ten minutes pass. I see Lilliana, one of the backwaiters, walk over to Table 42 and ask in her broken English if they are done. They shake their heads. She leaves empty handed.

Ten more minutes pass. I go by the table again. Should I ask now? The patatas are in the EXACT same formation they were in when I first approached the table to clear. The table still looks every bit as messy and offensive to me. These ladies MUST be done by now. What if they have been done for a while, and think I'm a bad waitress for leaving them like this? I'll ask again.

ME: Can I clear for you ladies?
WOMAN: No. Thanks. I'm still working. She smiles politely, as though this is the first time this evening -- no in her LIFE-- that anyone has tried to clear her plate.

Ten more minutes pass. I'm at a lull and have nothing else to do, so I eye Table 42, wondering when I'll be allowed to clear.
Even if they AREN'T done, they should be. The potatoes are definitely ice cold by now, growing mealy and awful under their fried exterior skin. Eating them now would be like biting your teeth into a weird sponge. The aioli dipping sauce is growing warm, drooping in a sad puddle on the plate. Yech, it's DEFINITELY time to get that food out of the way...But I refrain. I will wait. It is clear that these ladies have food issues and I have no interest in getting involved.

As we all know from yesterday's post, I am currently in the throes of PMS, which is making me fat, emotional, and most of all, forgetful. After my last failed attempt to clear Table 42, I promptly forget that they are in the restaurant at all. They have been here for so long and are so engrossed in their own thing and CLEARLY uninterested in the quality of the food they put into their mouths, I decide to let myself off the hook and ignore them completely until they are flagging me down and begging to be cleared.

I forget about them for, like, a really long time. So long that when I do look up and notice Table 42 again, the first thing I think is, "Oh! I have a table there! What are those ladies doing and how long have they been here?"

I think those girls sat there staring at the same plate of cold, foul patatas bravas for over an hour.

I mean what is that? That has to be a psychological issue at play there, right? Some manifestation of weird control issues? Food protective behavior, to say the least? I mean, I have my food issues like every other girl, but these issues I just don't get.

I invite anyone with a psychological background to weigh in.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

welcome to fat week

Welcome to Fat Week, everybody! Fat week happens once a month and begins exactly one week before I get my period. And it blows.

Friends will tell me that I am crazy, not fat, and that this is all in my head. Boyfriends have banged their heads against the wall trying to talk me off the ledge during Fat Week. Strangers likely won't even notice it's Fat Week. The problem is that I notice. My body is kicking off Fat Week right now, with flair and celebratory style. My body is ringing it in with gusto. Huzzah Fat Week!

To some extent, the people who say Fat Week is all in my head are correct. More precisely, it's in my hormone secreting glands. Fat Week is the direct result of changes in hormone levels that happen at predictable times during my cycle. Today, for example, my progesterone levels are at an month-time high, and my estrogen and testosterone levels are also peaking for the second time this month. Estrogen & Testosterone on high? That's usually a good thing, as estrogen & testosterone are the hormones that make me outgoing, confident & feel as though I can take over the world during Thin Week (a.k.a. Week 2 of my cycle). Today Progesterone trumps the E&T card making me calm, collected, and since I am sensitive to it, a little blue.***

Tomorrow, all hell breaks loose and ALL of my hormone levels will plummet as I begin the hellish descent into PMS.

I also call this Fat Week because I literally am fatter this week. Every month I gain & lose at least five pounds over the course of my cycle (since I finally bought a scale in January I've been able to measure this for once and for all). For this duration of this glorious week I get to sport those brand new pounds like a shiny, spanking new pair of shoes. Heavy shoes. Shoes that only weigh five pounds, but feel like they weigh 25.

As you can see, Fat Week isn't just in my head, nor is it exactly real, as in just a week's time, I will lose exactly five pounds in the space of two days. But for now, Vive La Fat Week!

Welcome to my crazy, crazy world...

***All of this info was gleaned from a lovely little book by Gabrielle Lichterman called 28 Days. Pick up a copy & unlock the secrets of your cycle, especially if once a month you think you're going crazy. It's not all in your head & you are NOT alone!