It occurs to me that the title of this post, second in a series of ten (planned) around the anniversary of my unrequested job change, might imply a certain aspect of blame for which I’ve already stated I want to avoid. It might… though it shouldn’t. I think the most apt analogy might be: salt in an open wound. The salt cannot be blamed for the wound, but neither is salt a good idea in such a case.
So, what happened next? Lots of things. Life, work, and the days dripped on as they would have. We did our jobs. Hints of curious ideas trickled in assuring us, in some ways, that our preminotory thoughts of an uncertain future were not merely whisps of worry. And months passed.
The thing is, after this point — I have been thinking — it is difficult to go forward in my story without more definite resolution of the many characters involved. But, seeing as I don’t want to directly implicate anyone, or cast aspersions against the characters of people who I know would make use of a legal system (balanced in their favour) to get back at me for anything I would happen to write about them, I’ve decided not to write about anyone at all. Instead, and thus, I’ve decided instead to write a vague, ficitonal and non-connected little story about a private golf club restaurant called the Clubhouse. That’s all. Nothing more. And in doing so, I’ll start with some basic introductions. Meet…
… Tipper, the lovable coot of a head chef of the Clubhouse, skilled as much in cooking a fried egg to over-easy perfection as he was in massaging the ire of an impatient customer. Trusted by staff, if only in combination with sidelong glances of awe and wonder, the Clubhouse’s elevation to a four and a half star establishment is adorned in the laurels of Tipper.
… Lenny, the former head snufferoo of the members exclusive breakfast club, and certified coinosseuer of the blueberry waffle. As much bravado as breakfaster, Lenny’s long lost lucrative career in the long island sausage industry made him a natural fit for the breakfasters club… or did it?
… Ava, the newest head snufferoo of the breakfast club following Lenny’s defection to the (though he’d have denied it before ducking) much more member-exclusive cocktail diner’s group. Ava and her rarely-seen husband were certified pros on the links, but Ava’s recent forays into Clubhouse dining found her some measure of social success and affective indebtedness to Lenny’s fortuitous departure.
…Harriet, the soft-hearted, soft-headed, bombshell and el presidentia elect of the golfers membership association. Another pro turned politico, dedfacto member of each of the dining clubs, Harriet often found herself at odds with head chef Tipper over menu selections and wine pairings after a long-past, frequently reminiced stint on a small-town cable cooking show named after previous host.
…the unnamed membership of the club and participants in the Clubhouse dining groups, a prototypical collective of clashing interests, cookie-cut from the upper crusts of their inner society.
…the staff of the Clubhouse, waiters, bussers, and line cooks which are, of course, scattered and many throughout…
…which was really nothing to get excited about. Well… okay… it was nothing to get excited about unless you were one of the wait staff lingering about in the sidelines during one of those too-often held breakfast meetings. Really, the staff had it quite hard. I mean, to sit there in the kitchen a few meters away and listen to the foodie rhetoric — as though a few private-member golfers were some kind of end-all-be-all experts on toast and jam. They thought they had all the answers, and us in the back room were just pulling this stuff out of a freezer-box or something, and frying it up. We were line cooks, but these were chef-inspired recipes. And fresh ingredients. You couldn’t get this stuff anywhere else within a five-hour drive. And certainly not at any of the neighboring clubs.
I guess what really set it off was the consultant. That’s what he called himself: The Consultant. Harriet had used him as a some kind of self-proclaimed food-expert, held-on-retainer back a few years when she was the resident pretty-face on that cooking show they used to produce out of — what was that station called again? They keep changing names everytime they get bought out by some conglomertate multi-national… anyhow. She invited him as a special guest to the breakfast club one meeting in late November. The links were closed, so I guess there was nothing else to do.
Tipper bailed. It was not like him — and he had a good excuse, though no one was really sure they believed it. But, Tipper couldn’t stand the thought of some big-city critic running his hands through the menu and picking apart the ingredients.
Funny thing is, the guy didn’t even eat. He showed up, made some fiddly-fuss about the menu fonts or whatever — who can even remember it was so trivial — but not the food. We sat there on the sidelines, listening to this ass proclaim his expertise, and he never even took a single bite. I mean, Ava called him on it… a bit… in her way… never really with any confidence, and the guy just steamrolled over her. “Oh, but you’ve gotta taste the eggs.” Then he’d glower at her and, with this exasperated huff, reply: “Hon, in this business an egg-is-an-egg. What ya’ll need round here is not some cook, but a chef.”
But Lenny, who’d dropped back in on this exclusive opportunity to see this so-called master at work, cuddled up beside Harriet and (figuratively, of course) drooled at this guy’s feet.
Of course, there was no going back. The staff were proclaimed useless, overpaid buffoons: not good hard working folks anymore — not in the eyes of these consultant’s new desciples, anyhow. Expendable. Replacable. And “what the fuck are we waiting for, then? Huh? Let’s harvest the low hanging fruit and get on with making this the best club restaurant in the West.”
I mean, sure, it was their right. But that’s not how these things are really done… not unless there was a problem, and the problem wasn’t with the menu. If you asked me, and not many people bothered, it was promotion. A damn country club, and they expected the customers to just fill the place without… shit, without anything. Without an advertising budget, without a publicity campaign. Hell, if any of them had bothered to stretch their social circles beyond the club, they could have… but what am I saying? I was just a cook, so what did I know?
There is a story here. Really. And maybe that story is lost in between the lines of a simpler message: an outsider arrived, and knowing nothing about the deeper issues, caring not for the real solutions, took his pay in a shallow, trivial, and disinterested citique of something he never bothered to understand. And the wedge that created between two very distinct groups of people, well, it never really got any smaller after that. And in the end, the lesson to take away is that like many people doing anything for money, the great Fixer instead became the great Divider… and invoiced for the former.