Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Episode 74: How to Survive as a Waiter

I can barely believe it took 74 episodes of The Psychopedia for me to get to this one and I thought for sure I had already done it, but the Official Psychopedia research assistant/fact checker assures me that no, this subject has not yet been episoded.

So here we are! How to Survive as a Waiter. The short answer is: it's impossible. They all die at age thirty, like all those people in Logan's Run where the minute they turn thirty their palm jewels turn red and they have to go to this thing called Carousel which is not a Rogers and Hammerstein musical but instead this thing where you float up into the air in a flame-covered bodysuit and get laser-beamed to death because in the future, anyone over the age of thirty is useless. Hey, that's just like today! I better sit on my hands.

ANYWAY! I used to wait tables at a joint that was sort of the end of the line for a lot of people who worked there. I mean, they didn't go to Carousel and get laser-beamed or anything, but it tended to be peoples' last restaurant job. It was the most fun place ever to work and you got away with drinking and not working and more drinking and being rude and drinking and so on and once you've had all that freedom, it's almost impossible to go work at Applebee's.

One time I had a table of six people who I could tell I hated on sight and there was one lady at the table who made this big to-do blabbering on and on about her shellfish allergy and I said "okay, just don't order any shellfish and we'll be fine." And then someone else at the table ordered scallops. So when all the entrees came out, I put them in front of the appropriate person and about two seconds later the shellfish lady stared screaming because her neck and face were swelling up because she had reached across the table and speared a scallop from someone else's plate and eaten it. So I went over to see what I could do to help and she started screaming at me I TOLD YOU I WAS ALLERGIC TO SHELLFISH! I TOLD YOU I WAS ALLERGIC TO SHELLFISH. And I asked "well why did you eat one, then?" and she screamed back I DIDN'T, YOU IDIOT! I ATE A SCALLOP!

Things do get a little fuzzy at this point - peppermint schnappes and all - but now it was (as the kids say) on. No, I didn't have any Benadryl. Would she like some trucker speed? No, there was not a doctor in the house. Would you like to talk to the painting professor from Vanderbilt? She's right over there. No, I'm sorry, I do not know the Heimlich maneuver. But I do know the Charleston. How 'bout we try that?

Eventually, her husband walked up to the mini-mart on the corner and got her some Benadryl and she took it and five minutes later was knocking back the Long Island Teas without a care in the world. They tried unsuccessfully to have me fired - especially when I added the tip on. Party of six, no arguments...IT SAYS IT ON THE MENU! But that was like a daily occurrence, someone trying to get me fired from that job. Once I actually did get fired, but I just showed up the next day like it had never happened and kept right on working. I suppose I should feel guilty about being perfectly content to watch a person die from a shellfish allergy - shellfish that I delivered, no less. But I don't. She was too stupid to live in the first place. If it hadn't been a scallop, it would just be something else later. It's called thinning the herd.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Episode 73: How to Fart Discreetly

When I was in the third grade in Goldsboro, North Carolina, I had a teacher named Mrs Larkin. She was an older African American lady who dressed up to come to class every day, in jewel tone pantsuits with giant artificial corsages that matched her costume. She wore her glasses on a chain around her neck. I suppose in today's world, she would be thought of as "eccentric," but no, really she was just insane.

One time she accused me of cheating on an art project (an art project!) because I spelled "Halloween" correctly on a Happy Halloween poster and she didn't think a third grader would know how to spell "Halloween" correctly so I got in trouble for that but I think the real reason was because she had spelled it wrong on the chalkboard and I corrected her spelling on my own project. That was the same week buck-toothed Rebecca Smith stabbed me in the wrist with a lead pencil. It was a very trying Autumn.

Mrs Larkin also could not abide the idea of anyone "passing gas" (I guess she thought she was being classy saying it that way) in her classroom. So she made a big deal about reminding us EVERY DAY that if we were going to feel the pressing need to do such a thing, we were to raise our hands and tell her we were about to do it - and we had to say "pass gas," no other vulgar terms, thankyouverymuch - after which she would allow us to walk over to the classroom door and stick our derrières (again, classy) out into the hallway and then and only then could we "release." That's what she said, "release."

Well you can imagine what a whole bunch of third graders thought about that. Up and down all the livelong day so we could fart into the hallway, even if we didn't really have to. And once one person had asked, there was a parade of twenty more arms shooting into the air so we could all go giggle our way across the classroom and "release."

Anyway. Mrs. Larkin. She was one mean old biddy.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Episode 72: How to Make Risotto

I love risotto. I could make and eat it every day. I love everything about it; the prep, the process, the flexibility, the flavor. And with the one exception of an ill-fated butternut squash version about which no one is allowed to speak, I'm very good at making it.

But this story is about something else! Although risotto-related. When I was in Italy, lo these many years ago, I went to Venice with my friends Beth and Thom and oh my my before the trip we would not shut up about how excited we were about getting to eat some risotto in Venice, where risotto has its origins. Risotto risotto risotto, we would not shut up about it. By the time we got to Venice, in Week III, however, there were a lot of other foods we had not shut up about. When we were in Piemonte, we would not shut up about white truffles. White truffles, white truffles, white truffles! When we were in Chianti, we would not shut up about cinghiale, the wild boar. Cinghiale, cinghiale, cinghiale! When we were in Lucca, we would not shut up about chestnuts. Chestnuts, chestnuts, chestnuts! You get the idea. And maybe you hate us already. But that's okay! I hate us too.

In other words, we were fooded out by the time we got to Venice and we forgot ALL ABOUT our obsession with risotto. And so on the last night in Venice, we were in some restaurant in Dorsoduro and uh-oh, there it was on the menu...risotto! So Beth said "I'll have risotto!" and the lady said "no risotto! Risotto only for two!" So I said "oh, okay, then in that case I'll have the risotto as well!" and the lady smiled and said "si, risotto for two!" And then Thom said "I'll have risotto as well!" and the lady said "no! risotto only for two!" It's so labor intensive they would only make it in batches for people in pairs and this odd number was really causing some problems. It was very traumatic and somehow the lady made us feel like the ugliest Americans in the history of ugly Americans, this while another table of Americans kept saying "Eye-talian" this and "Eye-talian" that.

So we ended up not ordering it at all! We never did get to eat risotto in Venice, which is why I hate that fucking place. I hope that city sinks into the goddamned ocean.

P.S. I don't really hate you, Venice!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Episode 71: How to Know If the Glass Is Half-Empty or Half-Full

Sometimes I can never figure out if I am an optimist or a pessimist.

For example, I am fully expecting to win the Powerball drawing this Saturday night. One hundred and sixty-five million dollars. I'd tell you my numbers but then I'd have to share with you and I'm not really a sharer. So on Sunday, I'll be hunting for a solid gold bathub that dispenses gravy, which has been a lifelong dream of mine. So if you know a source for one of those, do give me a jingle. Then after that, I am going to buy my old company that I used to work for so I can fire a few people. You know who you are. And there are three other miscellaneous people I am going to have killed.

So I guess that makes me an optimist.

But then! I start thinking, "oh, the taxes on a hundred and sixty-five million dollars! What a burden! And ugh, I'll have to change banks because my current bank only lets you withdraw four hundred dollars at a time which so far has not been a problem since I've never had four hundred dollars in the bank but if I had one hundred and sixty-five million in the bank, I might have some sort of immediate need for like a quarter million dollars (if I find that bathtub, for instance) and do you have any idea how hard it is to close a bank account these days? So then I think, "gah! I don't want to win!"

So then I think maybe pessimist.

I've looked at the rest of the family to see if there's some sort of genetic pattern and here's the evidence:

Sister- pessimist. "You're too fat and you're either going to break that ladder or fall off of it."

Father - optimist. "I can make you another ladder! I like a project! I'll put it on the list right now!"

Mother - realist. "Who do you think you're kidding? You aren't going to ever clean those gutters."

Monday, January 12, 2009

Episode 70: How to Watch "The Sound of Music"

Yeah, I'm sure you think you know how to do it, but trust me, unless you sat next to my friend David while watching the greatest movie of all time (his words), YOU DON'T.

I was recently on vacation with a handful of friends and on the final night of the trip, we popped in the DVD version of The Sound of Music that has the singalong version on it (yes, two people went to bed immediately). All that means is they put the words to all the songs on the screen during the musical numbers like subtitles. And by the way, all the songs are faster than you think. Like when you sing them while vacuuming -like you do, I'm sure - you sing them at a certain speed. But you aren't singing them fast enough, trust me, no matter how fast you are singing them. The big mystery for me is why is the movie eight hours long if the songs go so fast? And why do they show it at Christmas? There's not a Christmas scene in the whole movie. I've never gotten that.

But ANYWAY lemme tell you...David didn't need the subtitles. And not just for the songs. He recited almost every line of dialogue before the actors did. In a way, I wished we had just watched him do it; it would have been an hour shorter. Seriously, it was like watching Rainman perform the Collected Works of Shakespeare. I won't bore you with a song-by-song replay, but at one point he got up and moved to the other side of the room, telling us we were making him sing off key. As if. You should try it sometime, the singing along. That Do-Re-Mi song is like running a goddamned marathon.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Episode 69: How to Start the New Year Right

Oh the end of the year has been so EXCITING I have hardly had a chance to Psychopedicize very much. Actually, no, that is a lie. The end of the year has been a BORE and the reason I haven't been educating you lately is because I was off researching how to turn each of my fingers into corkscrews, so I could save time opening wine bottles during the holiday season. And maybe after.

ANYWAY! I spent a fun five days in Eureka Springs, Arkansas for the New Year's holiday. I know what you're thinking: it must have been a crystal meth-filled holiday, what with it being in Arkansas and all! But no, even though crystal meth does flow like the RIver Jordan there, we kept mainly to cheese nips, macaroons and vanilla vodka. Most of us had gone to college together so it was just like The Big Chill but instead of "I Heard it Through the Grapevine," it was "You Spin Me Round" by Dead or Alive. And singalong Sound of Music, so yes, you can imagine, I'm sure. Nothing makes people choose different chairs faster than originally sitting next to the wrong person when you get to "Climb Ev'ry Mountain," let me tell you.

We took turns making dinner; one night, David and Jeff made filets and roasted green beans and potatoes made out of unicorns or whatever and then another night, Dani and Don made quesadillas and tortilla soup. I was paired with Sarah, so we made bean water. Our theme was "The Joad Family New Year," apparently. Hahahahah that's what they get for pairing the two poorest people up! Then we laughed a lot at dirty phrases that we don't really know what they are (AND DON'T TELL ME), like "rusty trombone." So that was funny because now we're all going to try and say them innocently in conversation and whoever laughs we'll secretly know is a total pervert. That's a good trick for the new year.

Anyway, Happy 2009 from your Psychopediast. Keep tuning in; you've been doing a lot wrong, I can tell.