work


“So-ho,” the groom’s friend breathed in my face, exhaling a waft of pure liquor that made my nostrils itch and my head jerk back involuntarily. “Did you know that Mitch and I have been friends since we were ten?”

“No, I didn’t,” I replied, turning away in disgust as I felt his spittle drizzle my eyelids.

The guest teetered a little, tried to focus his vision and continued. “I find it so hhhhard to believe hhhhe’s now married, cuz I still feel like a kid at hhhheart” he exhaled again. I gave silent thanks that I hadn’t had a chance to eat dinner, because I would’ve lost it right there, a foot from the dance floor.

“I’m just a surf bum,” he reported to nobody in particular, because by that time I was pretending to check my itinerary, trying to keep my face shielded from the sprinkler he was hiding in his mouth. “I love to just ride the waves from sunrise to sunset, that’s the best life.”

He blinked a couple of times and wobbled, a slightly confused look on his face. “You know, I struggle to pay the bills,” he said, genuinely perplexed. I stifled a laugh, and then…

“Did I tell you I’m a semi-professional skateboarder?”

“Oh, look, a centerpiece is on fire. Gotta run! Bye!”

I can hardly believe that school starts tomorrow!!! I will officially be a student again, after many years of yearning to return to the classroom.   We had to read a book prior to the beginning of classes.  I’m almost done with it, but as I’ve always done since junior high, I’ll probably read the last few pages as I’m brushing my teeth or walking to school tomorrow.  Some habits die hard, and procrastination is certainly one of them.

Last night I had a meeting with a couple who hired me for their wedding in May of next year. They’re nice enough, but through the entire meeting I just saw myself repeating the same things, hearing the same comments, answering the same questions… I felt at times like the teacher in the Peanuts comics: MUAH-MUAH-MUAH-MUAAAAAAAHHHH.

Most definitely, it’s time for a change!

——————-

Today on “In Our Hands”: CSA – The Healthy Way

In a couple of hours I’m off to the OB-GYN. There’s no better way to start your weekend than with a visit to the nether regions doctor, right girls?? My prediction: She’ll try to push some sort of pills on me. Because doctors always do. I still remember the look of shock on my former doctor’s face when I told him that I didn’t want to take birth control pills, thankyouverymuch.

This new doctor is a woman. I’ve never had a female OB-GYN, so it’ll be interesting to see the differences in bedside manner. My former doctor was also my mom’s doctor, and he actually brought me into the world (well, my mom did the pushing, he did the catching).

I haven’t had a check-up in three years (gasp!), so I wonder if there will be cobwebs in there! 😀

**********

The West magazine photo shoot went well (as far as I know, but I didn’t get to see the final pictures, so right now the photographer could be pulling out his hair and wondering how in the world he was going to fix those shots of the god-awful cooking teacher with the crooked apron and maniacal smile… And I would never know).

I realized something very important from this experience: I could NEVER become a model.

I was standing there, slicing a peach, and the photographer barked, “Now, look up and smile as if we had just entered the kitchen.” I did my best Martha Stewart ‘oh, it’s you!’ impression. “OK, now smile a little less,” the photographer suggested. I turned down the voltage, and he said, “You don’t look genuine, relax your features.” So I relaxed my features, and he said, “But now you’re not smiling.” No, but I am holding a very large knife, and I’m not afraid to use it.

“Now turn your body.” So I did, but it’s kind of hard to turn your body while you’re holding on to a big chef’s knife and a freshly cut peach, dripping with juice. “Not too much,” cried the photographer. So I turned back. “Now your apron is crooked,” cried the art director, jumping up to re-adjust it.

“Now, close your eyes for a second and open them,” called the photographer. I did, and as I was trying to focus, a huge flash exploded in my face. You know that deer-in-headlights look? Not very flattering. “Now try a relaxed pose,” he suggested. I put my hands on the table and leaned forward. “No, that’s too far forward, try something else,” he demanded. Something like what? Should I straddle the prep table? I’m a culinary teacher, not a model, for Pete’s sake!

I wonder if Tyra Banks could make a Peachy Ceviche as yummy as mine…

**********

When I moved to the U.S., I realized something very odd: People don’t like talking about how much money they make. In Mexico, it’s very natural to discuss your salary and compare it to those of your friends. In the U.S., however, salaries are a hush-hush topic. Sure, it’s acceptable to show off your money, but it’s not acceptable to talk about figures. Go figure.

When I was growing up, my mother never had any money of her own. My parents had a family business and all the money was ‘theirs’. She didn’t have problems with this because she managed the money and paid the bills. My dad never knew how much money was in the bank, and he didn’t care.

This arrangement followed me into my marriage, with the slight difference being that my husband controlled all the money. I had a bank account, but it had my husband’s money in it and he controlled what went in and out. I worked with him, and instead of earning a salary, he gave me a credit card that was closely monitored for ‘superfluous’ expenses each month.

I finally got myself out of this pickle when I opened my business. However, I still feel guilty when I balance my books and evaluate my net worth. I picture myself as a Gringott’s goblin, hunched over my calculator, crunching numbers and giggling gleefully as I scribble figures with a quill. I have to force the guilt aside and push those images out of my head. When I do, and I look at the financial results of three years of hard work, I am filled with so much happiness and pride!!!

Again, I know people feel uncomfortable talking about how much they make… But let’s just say that if I wanted to, I could take a year off from work! Not a bad way to end a week, huh?

So… I was getting ready to publish a “woe is me” post outlining my annoyance at my current profession, the envy I feel because all my friends are having children and I’m not, the silly arguments Mr. T and I have had in the past week, and the fact that I have a cold and it’s 90F outside.

But then a friend who runs a B&B contacted me to tell me that she had scheduled a photo shoot for me with West magazine this Friday for my cooking classes.

Me.  In West magazine.  With a published recipe.  And my contact information.

I shouldn’t stop reminding myself that when things seem to be going badly, it’s only because our energies are re-aligning themselves towards something new and better.

Now excuse me, I have to go figure out how to make and creatively plate ceviche with peaches.

Yes, the big fat Jewish wedding from hell is officially over!  After working non-stop on my feet from 9:30am to 11:00pm, I finally put that bad boy to bed for good!  I’m taking a well-deserved day off, but I thought you’d find this funny:

At 9:30pm

Female guest: Excuse me, do you know at what time the first shuttle leaves?

Me: Yes, ma’am.  It’s leaving at 11:15pm

Female guest: What?  That late?  That’s unacceptable!  I have a small child with me!!  It’s preposterous!

Me: *sigh*

Later on that evening…

Waitress: I need your help.

Me: What’s wrong?

Waitress: The couple over there just told me to bring them a crib because their toddler fell asleep on two chairs.  But, where am I going to get a crib from???  We’re not a hotel!

Me: GAAAAAAAAAA!!!!

The wedding from hell is upon me.  I have spent a year cursing the day that I accepted this couple’s business.  Why, oh why did I not see that they were going to be such a nightmare to work with?  Fortunately, I only have to see them today and tomorrow and NEVER AGAIN!   They, on the other hand, have to put up with their unfortunate selves the rest of their lives.

Here’s a little tidbit I found amusing (but apparently, they didn’t):

Me: So, we’ll base the final guest count for the bar vendor on 160 guests.

Bride (with mom on three-way): Well, I was thinking 165 because of the photographers, videographer, DJ and you.

Me: Oh, don’t worry about me.  I’ll be so busy that I’ll be lucky if I can finish a bottle of water.  Although, by the time I’m done with this wedding, I might need a tequila shot. Hahaha!

Bride and mom: *crickets*

Some people have no sense of humor…

When I get bored at work, I play the “Guess the Guest Game”. It seems that at every wedding I do, guests can be broken down into discernible categories:

The Single Guy: He’s there for one reason, and one reason only: the booze. He sits in the last row during the ceremony and is the first in line at the cocktail hour bar. As soon as he enters the reception, he sheds his jacket and congregates with the rest of the Single Guys. He never respects the seating arrangement and instead drags his chair over to where his buddies are. When dinner is over and the dancing starts, he heads over to the bar, tips the bartender a few bucks, and orders him to “keep ’em coming”. He ogles the New Relationship blonde all night and passes out on a banquet table, his face in a slice of cake.

The New Relationship couple: This couple is usually HOT (to borrow the very eloquent Hiltonian expression). The guy is a metrosexual, strutting into the reception hall late (because ceremonies are so yesterday) and sitting close to the bar. The woman on his arm, nine times out of ten, is a long-haired blonde. She has an amazing body: long legs, firm arms and perky breasts, and her dress choice is better suited for a South Beach night club than a wedding. It shows off every curve and leaves little to the imagination. She wears very high-heeled stilettos and not only manages to walk confidently, but also dances all night. In most situations, he’s a friend of the groom (a former Single Guy) and this is the first time his girl is meeting his posse. This couple blends into the background during dinner, not paying attention to the toasts or the cake cutting. However, as soon as the dancing starts they take over the dance floor with their sultry moves, and bump and grind in front of the videographer. Grandparents look on in horror while the Single Guys cast knowing glances at each other. Months later, the irate bride will demand they be edited out of the final version of the video.

The Newlyweds: I’m not talking about the bride and groom. The Newlyweds are friends of the bride or the groom who just recently tied the knot, perhaps in the past month or two. They look harmless enough, but in their heads they’re checking out every detail of the wedding to see how theirs measured up. The guy is still a gentleman, pulling out the chair for his new wife and covering her shoulders with his suit jacket if she gets cold. The woman still looks after herself, but her dress choice is slightly more conservative than when they were dating. The couple sticks together for most of the evening and they dance only with each other. The woman looks smug, showing off her still-sparkly engagement ring and wedding band to everyone at their table. The guy, on the other hand, casts longing looks at the Single Guys gathered around the bar.

The “been-dating-forever-when-is-it-my-turn” couple: These two have been together for years, but the guy still hasn’t gotten up the nerve to propose. They spend a large part of the evening apart; he hangs out with the Single Guys by the bar and loudly reminds the groom that “it’s too late to back out now”. She sits next to The Newlyweds and “ooohs” and “ahhhs” while inspecting the wedding bands and hearing about their wedding and honeymoon. When the groom tosses the garter, the “been-dating-forever” guy hides in the bathroom. When the bouquet is tossed, his girlfriend is right in the middle of the pack of Single Girls. As the flowers fly through the air, her expression changes from expectant joy to crushing defeat when the New Relationship girl stretches out her thin, toned arm and dashes any hope of bringing up the topic of marriage for the foreseeable future… At least until the next wedding.

The Pregos: Weddings and pregnancies among groups of friends tend to come in waves. Therefore, it’s not unusual to have three or four pregnant women at one wedding. The Prego waddles into the reception hall in her short polka-dotted dress with puffy sleeves and a little bow marking the division between her breasts and her belly. She makes a big show of ordering a bottle of water and freaks out if the waiter accidentally pours a thimble-full of champagne into her flute. She never dances, but instead watches from the sidelines, absent-mindedly rubbing her expanding belly. Her husband sits quietly by her side, playing the “protective man” role but silently ruminating that just because she can’t drink, it shouldn’t mean that he has to abstain as well. They go home early because she’s tired, and he looks back longingly at all that was and will never be again.

The New Parents: They were told that the wedding was for adults only, but their child is special and therefore obviously exempt from the rule. The father has to carry the child out halfway through the ceremony because the baby decided to make his wet diaper discomfort known at the exact moment the bride and groom were exchanging vows. The mother wears a Laura Ashley dress with flat shoes and a ponytail. If it’s an evening wedding, she’ll wear a shapeless shift dress that falls below her knees. With flat shoes and a ponytail. The New Parents walks into the reception armed with enough supplies to keep a dozen babies comfortable during a weekend at Disneyland. The father pushes the stroller and the mother carries the baby bag, and they inevitably choose to park themselves in the area with the most waiter traffic. The mother will request items that are impossible to procure in a busy catering kitchen, including (but not limited to): baby formula (not brought by them) warmed to body temperature, apple sauce, and Cheerios. The father will nurse his alloted beer throughout dinner, and they’ll depart as soon as the dancing starts because it’s past the baby’s bedtime.

The Single Girl: She’s a friend of the bride and has more bridesmaid dresses than she cares to count. She runs around lighting candles, fixing centerpieces, and making herself useful, hoping that the charitable acts she performs now will cancel out any faux pas caused by the massive amounts of alcohol she plans on consuming later. She wears sensible shoes and switches to flip-flops as soon as the dancing starts. The flip-flops do nothing to flatter her figure, but she pretends not to care as she dances in a circle with the other Single Girls. Her eyes go from the New Relationship blonde who’s bumping and grinding on the dance floor, to the cute Single Guy who’s standing over at the bar… Unfortunately, he’s staring at the blonde.


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