You could already feel that this day was going to be a doozy. As you sit down at your table, you see him coming your way. Sleeves rolled up to show-off a bunch of tattoos, some of which you’re sure you can only get in prison, untucked shirt, 5 o’clock shadow at 1 in the afternoon, lit cigarette in his mouth, and a breath that could strip paint off a speed boat. God, what was the restaurant thinking partnering you up with a loose cannon waiter?
Once he’s nearby, he throws the menu at you with carefree abandon, barely making eye contact. You ask about the special. With distant eyes he finishes his cigarette and then uses it to light a second one before telling you the only special thing in this world is the love of a good woman. But, he continues, that never lasts because the universe “or whatever” will find ways to take it away from you. He also tells you to try the salmon, which has been glazed with brown sugar and is served with roasted garlic. The recommended wine for it is a fruity Pinot Noir, as sweet as Sylvia used to be and red as the pool of blood he found her in. You decide to go with the $5 bottle instead.
You tell him your order but he never writes it down. Says he never forgets anything, no matter how hard he tries. Writing down the orders is restaurant policy but you can see that this guy doesn’t play by the rules, and the really strange thing is that a part of you likes it and can even respect it. So you go OK and let him do his own thing. Maybe this partnership will work out after all.
An hour goes by and you still haven’t gotten your food. You start to worry. Did something happen to him? Just then, he bursts in through the front door, clothes wet and tattered, still punching the salmon he had in one hand. Once it finally died, he plops the fish on your table. Then he brings out the knife. You back away in shock, asking what the hell is this? “Your order,” he says. You try to protest but the man just scoffs and tells you that this is what you wanted; he’s just cutting through all the bullshit. Life is pain, he adds. It’s blood and guts and viscera and the sooner you come to terms with it, the better your life will be. Also please let him know if you need more bread.
You want to argue, but on some level you know that he is right, even as he’s cutting up the freshly-killed fish right there on your table, staining the white cloth with its blood. Then comes out the cooking torch, but you know all too well not to question the man’s methods. You let him get on with it. It’s not pretty, it violates every code imaginable but, dammit, it gets things done. You finally taste your fish. It’s OK. You leave a 15% tip and give the restaurant 4 stars on Yelp.