It’s always great when a memory from your childhood comes up and makes you laugh. This is from a Facebook status earlier today:
I’m staying in a hotel this weekend because we’re having our wooden floors refinished at the house. Two things about that. Apparently, there is a hockey tournament for littles going on, because it is crazygonuts loud when they’re awake. Luckily, I have three pairs of headphones that all go up to DEFCON OMFG. #SamSmith #Unholy Aaaaand, I forgot my good razor. I managed to get smooth legs from a twin blade without making it look like I have poison ivy. Ryan Darlington would be so proud. Ask him about it. I’m certain he remembers the story, it’s our “meetcute.” What I remember most of all is that my dad turned it into a sermon illustration. 😛 😛 😛 I don’t remember what scripture it was “enlightening,” because I don’t remember a story in the Bible where Jesus shaved his legs.
Here’s the story since most of you can’t actually ask Ryan. I know that some of you can, but this is for the rest of you.
Editor’s Note: Shout out to Ireland, who beat the United States in my stats yesterday. It means a lot to me because I’m not Irish, but that’s where my family originally began. Also another shout out to the Irish. I say editor’s notes because of Diane (Jennings), who divides herself into her YouTube personality and who she calls “Editor Diane,” and those clips are even funnier.
When I was in 7th grade, I was a trumpet player. I was not a prodigy, but I was good for my age because my dad is a trumpet player and he was able to help me until I got a private teacher. So, in the summer between seventh and eighth grade, I went to band camp at UT Austin. All of the other girls were shaving their legs, and I had never done it before. I didn’t even have a razor. So another girl lent me one, and it was already dull. I had gashes under both knees.
This beautiful boy with curly blonde hair walked up to me and said, “Hi. I’m Ryan Darlington. You look like you could use a Band-Aid.” I laughed and he stole my heart. We were an unusual couple for kids- together for over a year. His parents are just as important to me as my own, even after thirty years.
I don’t want to write about the funny part without writing about the serious part, too. Another instance in which I chose someone to love that didn’t deserve it over him, when he was The One. I wore his promise ring for years, long after we broke up, because I liked the thought that he was with me even when he wasn’t in the room.
I was stupid enough to tell him I was gay, but not out of malice. Out of idiocy. If I had known then what I know now, I would have done things so much differently. I would have explained to him that I’m bisexual, but that doesn’t mean I need two partners. That means I need you to understand that my identity as a person is different than yours, and we’re going to have to hash it out over what’s acceptable behavior and what’s not, because my words tend to get me in trouble….. “Sometimes you are very funny. Sometimes you are very not.” Tis true. I was a line cook for a long time, and sometimes it doesn’t occur to me that other people have never worked in a kitchen and have no context as to why I’m so outlandish and often don’t think of the consequences of what I say. It generally clicks in my brain that I am in kitchen mode when someone says, “WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?”
The one friend I’ve lost to that disease that surprised me was a woman who owned a bar. Because of that one fact, the one I call “I didn’t choose the pub life, the pub life chose me,” I really began to look at the difference between indoor voice and outdoor voice. That I was actually hurting women and not joking with them like it came across to me.
It’s an experience I’ll never forget, because even though I lost that friendship, I will never in a million years stop loving her for what she gave me, which was new insight into my own behavior. It allowed me to do the homework. I have no idea if she still reads me or not, and it’s been so long that I don’t care. But it would make me happy to know that she knows I didn’t just tell her I was sorry, I changed my behavior for the better.
I can say that I’ve been changed for good without it being a double entendre.
I’ll sing that one line in the audio just to her, yet not to try and make amends to get something out of it for myself. I just want to tell her my truth. You did change me for the better, and it is permanent.
I continue to make mistakes and step over the line when it’s unwelcome, and all I can do is apologize profusely. But now it’s not a constant struggle between the language I use with coworkers and the language I use with friends.
It makes me happy to make other people laugh, and devastated when I’ve hurt them. I don’t want to be that person, ever. I’m also human and ADHD. Having your impulse control that fast and loose with everything and putting kitchen language on top of it is not new or interesting, because most of us are like that. ADHD, addict, misit… a kitchen is a tribe that will have you no matter what you’ve done or who you are. Believe me, that is a good thing. We all bust our non-neurotypical asses and have a great time doing it.
But speaking of impulse control, my rage went off once when I was a dishwasher. I verbally went for blood when my chef left both chef’s and bread knives in the bottom of the sink with dirty water on top so you couldn’t see them. You know what’s worse than being cut by a knife? Being cut by a knife that is soaking in bacteria. If I’d cut myself on a chef’s knife, it wouldn’t have been great. The serrated edge on the bread knife could have done so much more damage than that.
You really haven’t seen anything like a dishwasher dressing down a chef, but at least he had the humility to look embarrassed. He almost really, really hurt me, and he knew it. He stood there and just took it because he didn’t break a rule, he broke one of the biggest. In a kitchen, it doesn’t matter if it’s idiocy or malice if I end up in the hospital trying to get rid of whatever was in all that used food.
Like I’ve said before, when I don’t love someone, I don’t say anything. It’s not important. Every chef I’ve ever had earned my respect, but I didn’t like all of them. I’m only still in touch with two, the cream of the crop.
But that’s not the whole story. Cooking doesn’t drain my energy. I am excited and overwhelmed with possibility every single day, even if it’s just making the same shit. My nickname has been either “SpongeBob” or “Bob Esponja” in three kitchens running. The only time I’ve ever wavered in that kind of bubbly excitement was the day I had to go to work at 3pm when Anthony Bourdain had died that morning.
My chef/line cook friends leveled me with their posts, and I was in so much pain…. and so much more when I got to my kitchen and no one really knew who he was… and then Chef got there, and we looked at each other. We’d both been crying. No words, just a nod. Trying to talk was too much. By then it was 4:30 PM, when all the stations are mostly prepped and the dinner rush is trickling in before the “pop.”
Cooks live for “the pop.” We’re not cooks. We’re fucking gladiators doing ballet in front of a stove, an oven, an open flame grill, fryers… Picture Bikram yoga but for people under so much pressure they can’t breathe. That’s what makes the end of the night, when you’re breaking down the cardboard boxes and taking out the trash, feel like you’ve just won or lost a war.
You live for the W. Anything else is unacceptable, and we all know it. If we got in the weeds and ticket times were slow, we beat ourselves up over it…. or, we do at first. Over time, you learn that you can’t win them all.
Thankfully, I’ve won so much more than I’ve lost in every area of my life except cooking. I’m not sure that anyone understands my grief except other chefs, because I had so much trouble at work and it never occurred to me that I had too many physical limitations to work in a restaurant because I didn’t know I had them. I just felt incompetent all the time.
In another entry, I talked about the landscape smoothing over. It was the blessing of my life to learn that I hadn’t screwed anyone over on purpose in the kitchen, not even once in my lifetime.
The curse is knowing I can’t go back.
I wish I had listened to myself when I was young and been better about telling myself over and again that I could find a job in intelligence. I didn’t know that there were more options than C/DIA, because Foster was a helicopter pilot for both. And interestingly enough, I am learning about spycraft for a novel I’m writing. My interest in being CIA is equal to working for State, because it’s not about the spycraft. It’s about being able to travel. I think I would have been happy just about anywhere, but because theology is another great love of my life, I would have tried to walk every inch of MENA, State’s designation for Middle East North Africa.
Interestingly enough, one of my friends who works for the government told me that, and then a day later Lindsay said that her first boyfriend, Saeed, was from MENA… which I knew, but it was just interesting that I’d never heard a term before and it came up twice in two days….. But anyway, if I could find a safe place anywhere in MENA, I’d stay. I have too much to see before either I die or the Israelis and the Palestinians try to kill each other so hardcore that they also ruin everything important to Christians. I’m not hating. Both sides do shady shit all the time, I just feel ike it’s more justified for the Palestinians because they aren’t a recognized state and don’t have an actual military. Israel also has tons of American money pouring into it because of the Christian contingent in Congress. Jesus CHRIST this is not our fight, literally. Israel is not the one that needs help right now. If you think that the Russian army is overbearing and Israel is not, it might be a question you’d want to ponder further.
I know I do. I do not believe in Evangelical White Jesus. I believe in the historical brown Jesus posited by Marcus Borg, because it is absolutely insane to think that Jesus was the only baby born IN THE MIDDLE EAST and yet has French features. I’m bipolar. I know from crazy. This is it. There are stories out there about Jesus’s family escaping to France after the crucifixion, because Joseph of Arimethea had a shipping company. That’s how he was rich and powerful enough to get Jesus’ body back from the Roman government.
What would it be like to experience stories that are all true, and some of them actually happened in person? (Now you know how I picked the title of the blog….)
What would it have been like to sneak away for a weekend in Turkey to actually stand on Mt. Tabor? What would it be like to sit on the shores of Lake Kinnaret (in the Bible, the Sea of Galilee)? My mom went once, my dad has been twice. When he came home, he made us an Israeli recipe for broiled fish with lemon, and it is one of the strongest food memories I have, one of the things that made me fall in love with it. Indirectly, Jesus made me a cook. So you can thank him or yell at him. Choose your own adventure.
Because of my focus on travel, none of my interest in spycraft started as recently as it seems. It started with a dream about my great uncle, Foster Fort. I was an older kid when I learned what happened to him, but he died in a helicopter crash in Somalia. The dream was wondering what it would be like to talk to a real spy. Ask him where he’d been, what he’d done (UNCLASS).
In 2008, when Argo came out, that was all she wrote. The movie was fantastic, and Tony Mendez divined that there would be people who’d want to know the rest of the story, so a companion book that told the real story was greenlit by George Tenet. The funniest thing is that the movie focuses on CIA and not the Canadians who helped us, so I have it on good authority because I’ve read it at least six times that it says “thank you Canada” about every five pages.
Then I thought Tony and Jonna walked on water because Argo was so good, and I’ve read every single thing they’ve ever published, and Jonna has a memoir coming out sometime this year. I’m so excited, because there needs to be a “sequel” to Master of Disguise…. and I’m going to say it that way because Jonna had the exact same job as Tony 10 years later.
Which gets me thinking…..
What’s my sequel? Where is it going to come from? I can only control so much, but I’m vulnerable enough to just let people and opportunities show up.
Like a blonde curly-haired boy who thinks I could use a Band-Aid.