Crazylandia Six

About this time, I thought it might be good to mention this little idea to Mrs. Underhill.

She was a bit skeptical. Her exact analogy was, “You don’t have to be in a band to appreciate music!”

Fortunately, due to the fact that she knew and liked E., she eventually conceded. But I knew I’d have to be on my best behavior. She made it quite clear that the first time I came home drunk at 3 AM, the jig would be up.

About this time, E. sent me an idea, “So how do you feel about working with me for a two or three evenings at Flower. What’s the kitchen word for not getting payed? ‘Staging‘? I was trying to figure out a way you could take a half way step and have some fun. You would be an extra body so you could step in and make drinks for the wheel when you liked, help guests when you liked, take a break and step off when you wanted to.”

Holy Crap! I had in my mind maybe having E. over to a BBQ and making drinks with him or working something like a catered party. I was totally honored and flabbergasted that he would even suggest an opportunity like this.  I quickly fired off an email agreeing to the experiment.

Crazylandia Four and a Half

To go back a bit…

When I was working at the Italian restaurant there was a worldly piano teacher who worked in the building.

We bonded over Contemporary Classical Music (Cornelius Cardew) and 20th Century literature (Samuel Beckett).

Some nights, after lessons, he would come down for dinner. If it wasn’t too busy, we’d chat about music and literature, and I’d make him dinner.

I think one of the first times I was left alone to run the line, probably a Tuesday or Wednesday night, he came down.

It was spring and we had just received a shipment of beautiful morel mushrooms. The special that night was a morel risotto.

He asked me to make him a plate for dinner.

I was really pretty excited to be making a dinner for someone as worldly and sophisticated as he, so I did my best. At that time, I thought the best thing to “improve” the recipe and make it special would be to make a whole lot of it.

So I sent out a heaping plate of morel risotto.

Afterwards I asked him to be honest, I was after all just a learning cook, and tell me how the risotto had been.

He replied it was good, but the portion was too large. There was too much rice and not enough morels.


To be trying to impress someone with your cooking, and have the very thing you thought to do to make it special be pointed out as its flaw. And to see instantly that they are right. And worse than that, to have disrespected such a beautiful and special ingredient.

Yep, that smarts.

But, you learn the limitations of your knowledge, take the lesson, and move forward.

As Beckett writes in Worstward Ho, “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”

Crazylandia Five

After a few days of thinking about what I had said and written I sent a note to E.

“Yeah, I suppose, if I’m going to continue spouting off about bars and tending I probably should at least have some experience behind the bar…If you can think of some gentle introduction to the job, let me know. Have to be evenings or weekends.”