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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Or You Could Just Eat It with Your Fingers


It is a night of starched pants, of large and surprisingly heavy pewter bowls, of stairs.

Oh, the stairs.

It is Saturday night at Nye’s Polanaise and I am, once again, numbered amongst the serving class.

Nye’s:  home of a piano bar where the young and pierced bawl out Buddy Holly tunes with the mature and polyestered.  Home of the prime rib and pierogies that got us featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. 

Home of the craziest, fastest-paced kitchen you’ve ever seen.

“Hello, Mees!” 

I turn around to a grinning Mexican on the line.

I smile at him, as I am wont to do.  “Do you know where I can get a fork?”

“Eh?” 

“Fork,” I say.  What’s the Spanish for “fork”?  I make a motion of stabbing him.  “Fork.”

“Ah!” he says, handing me a butcher’s knife.

“No, no,” I say, laughing.  “We’re out of forks downstairs!”

“Oh, forks!” he says.  “Already?  Better ask the deeshwasher.”

But the dishwasher, who really does not speak English, has no forks to give me. 

“No forks?”

He shakes his head.

I pass a waitress in the labyrinth-like maze of the kitchen, which is to say that we both suck in our guts, stand sideways and agree to exhale upon completing the pass.  “Do you know where I can get some forks?”

A pretty, punkish looking woman with black hair and black eyes, she grins, shakes her head.  “If you find any, let me know!”

It is 6:30, there is a party of 30 upstairs (Peace Corps Reunion), a party of 70 downstairs (the Szyplinski/Wojciehowitz Family Reunion) and the tables, bars, and booths of Nye’s Polanaise are full to capacity.

I run downstairs, move swiftly between the tables of the family reunion.  The party bus they arrived on had spit them and their coolers into our parking lot.  It had taken a swift word from management to convince them that while yes, it is Northeast Minneapolis and yes, drinking is part of the scenery, no, you cannot sit on your coolers in the parking lot with an open beer while waiting for the rest of your party to arrive.

I reach the bottom of the steps in time to watch a guest step on a tomato. 

I’ll have to get that later.

“Excuse me,” I say.  “Pardon me.”  In their inebriated enthusiasm for the elaborate spread, many of our guests have taken two, even three forks.  “Excuse me,” I say, picking up surplus utensils, “If I could –“

I manage to gather 30-some forks in roughly a minute.  I dash up the stairs, through the kitchen and back to the dishwasher. ..

Hot, shiny forks are ready in 120 seconds, and I fly down the back stairs with them, where I am greeted by the sight of a woman cutting into the center of the “Happy Family Reunion” cake.

“Whoops!” she hiccups.  “Ya caught me.”

I smile as a line of sweat trickles down my back.  “No cameras,” I say.  “No proof.” 

And I hand her a fork.

41 comments:

esbboston said...

Won

esbboston said...

120 / 30 = wow, 4 second forks! A miracle.

Shelly said...

Glad you found the tenedors.

And I do think I remember seeing Nye's on Triple D- too cool!

Scarlet Blue said...

Why? Why would the guests take three forks??
I agree, fingers are the way forward.
Sx

R. Jacob said...

aren't you going to miss all this when you win the lottery, move to Florida and exhaustively research just what are the qualifications of a cabana boy anyway!

Pearl said...

Tenedors!! :-) You've made me very happy Mas tenedors, that's what we needed!!

And yes, those dishwashers (both the people and the machines!) are fabulous. :-)

bill lisleman said...

I checked out the Nye link (free PR?). Looks interesting - the worlds most dangerous Polka band.
So during your sprinting around the place do you do a little Polka too?

mybabyjohn/Delores said...

But...if you hadn't run out of tenedors what would you have blogged about lol?

Laurel's Quill said...

I tell ya pearl, you lead quite the life!!!

Pearl said...

bill, I've been known to polka a time or two. :-)

Delores :-) Oh, there's always something going on at Nye's!

Laurel, and I run a lot of stairs!!

Leenie said...

"Szyplinski/Wojciehowitz" how many families can say use up the whole alphabet on one line of their invitations?

The people you serve and work with are so blessed to have assistance from one with such good humor, good nature, cordiality and endurance.

Pearl said...

Leenie, ..."and endurance". :-) You got that right, sister!

jabblog said...

Running up and down stairs - I am impressed. I think I used to be able to do that . . .

Pearl said...

jabblog, there was the possibility of free food later. I will always run the steps for the possibility of free food.

John Nicoll said...

Apart from a rather cheap play on the word fork, which a lady like you would defnitely not appreciate, I am lost for something to say!

fishducky said...

I don't comment very often (because you're funnier than I am) but I wanted to tell you that I ALWAYS enjoy your posts!!

I believe the plural of tenedor is tenedores.

Pearl said...

John, that would be both naughty and humorous, I'm sure. :-)

fishducky, why, there you are! Tenedores, you say? Anybody got "spoon" or "knife"? Seriously, Spanish is the language of the kitchen in so many places. Never hurts to have a few phrases under your belt (and yes, I've seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding, so please don't make me announce "I have three testicles!") :-)

Shelly said...

knife- cuchillo
spoon- cuchara

As for the other- don't say tres huevos

Linda said...

I would say, you got your exercise for the night. Very cute post. Thanks for visiting....

Joanne Noragon said...

This is why I love to go visit Ann in Wisconsin. Where else can you walk into the lobby of a big restaurant/hotel and find a wedding party executing the chicken dance. Every guest in line, down to the ones who just learned to walk with a pacifier in their mouths.

Paula Wooters said...

I hope you got a bite of that cake, too!

jenny_o said...

You took the bull by the horns, good on you. Or maybe more aptly, you took the forks by the handles.

Nope, there's a reason that saying never caught on. Bull by the horns, it is :)

Glen said...

Now if I ran about a restaurant shouting that I needed a fork I reckon I'd get arrested...

Glad to be back from my self imposed holiday from commenting anywhere. Ony one place I could start back at it - right here!

You always make me smile

Lola Rouge ...the mom said...

How I miss waitressing..... it doubled as social time and made Rosetta Stone unnecessary! Pearl, there is a reason I so love your posts: They make me remember and smile :)

Mandy_Fish said...

I love this.

Pat Tillett said...

If you'd frisked them, I'm sure you would have found even more forks!
Great post Pearl...

Al Penwasser said...

I prefer to eat my fingers separately. Save money on gloves that way.

Bodacious Boomer said...

Maybe the fork run can be part of the next Olympics.

Jacquelineand.... said...

You're also a great teacher...I've learned I can always come here for a smile!

Gigi said...

Free food you say? Hmmm.....I might have to look into that part-time gig. But sadly, Spanish is the only class I ever failed so that tells me I might not do so well.

Buttons said...

Wow Pearl I think you need a raise. B

The Elephant's Child said...

My father frequently told us 'fingers were invented before forks'. It seems he was right.

Mom of A and a said...

hah! We Indians have mastered fingers over forks long ago! :P

NellieVaughn said...

This is why I carry sporks in my bag. Once, back in my waitressing days, there was a child who wanted a "little fork, little fork!" I didn't have one to give her, but she wouldn't listen and was throwing a tantrum. I ran to the back, grabbed my spork, ran to her table and asked if she would be happy with the spork. She smiled and nodded.

River said...

Starched pants? oh, you mean trousers...
I'm also baffled by the need to have two or three forks. You can only fit one in your mouth at a time surely?

Esther Montgomery said...

Just shows how important it is never to leave your fingers at home.

the walking man said...

Party of fork? Table 33!

Steadfast Ahoy! said...

That is a fast-paced, high-pressure job for sure! It sure keeps you on your toes.
Rosemary

Eva Gallant said...

I love the way you tell a story!

Pat said...

Normally - in my neck of the woods - it's teaspoons.

Susan Williams said...

You are the best. Clearly.