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Friday, April 06, 2007

GOING OUT WITH A BANG: A FAREWELL TO BAR BQ

NOTE: to truly get the proper ambience for this post, listen to The Meteors album “Meteor Club-The Best Of.” Trust me on this one, especially the tune “Electro.” Oh, and also put on the Damned’s “Drinking About My Baby” on endless loop for full effect.

So this past Saturday night was my final shift at the barbecue joint and it was quite a shindig, an evening loaded with good wishes, good friends, and a couple of serious hints and a half for my beige ass. But before I get to all that, let’s skip back to a few days previous.

One of the things that I stated I would not miss was work related injuries; about a month ago my hands were severely burned when grease drippings from the oven latched onto me like fucking napalm, and since one of the realities of kitchen work is getting cut or branded such an ouchie was par for the course, so I ignored the burns and went back to what I had to do. The problem with that was the washing of implements every ten minutes or so, and the industrial strength soap that would not allow my wounds to heal, my skin only fighting its way back from crocodileness on my two days off when I had no contact with noxious chemicals. I swear to the gods, my hands looked like I was motherfucking Boris Karloff making a grab for the Scroll of Life in THE MUMMY (1932), a condition that elicited coos of nurturing sympathy from the sweet lesbian couple who live across the street from the barbecue joint. And as if that shit wasn’t irritating enough, on Friday night I suffered an allergic reaction to something in the air in the kitchen, and my eyes felt like they had been splashed with nitric acid. I itched like a bear all night, getting maybe two hours of sleep, and I had to be at a press junket/book signing for GRINDHOUSE in Manhattan Saturday morning by 9AM.

When I awoke I was horrified to learn that my eyes were nearly swollen shut, and various parts of my sexy self were covered with a virulent, itchy rash (even parts that REALLY shouldn’t ever get irritated, if you get my drift), requiring lots of Neosporin, Benadryl itch stopping cream, and calamine lotion. Undaunted, I made it to the signing and got the first of many pleasant surprises on my final barbecue day: I got to meet not only Quentin Tarantino, but also director Robert Rodriguez, actor Freddy Rodriguez, and the whip-it-out-and-jack-it-like-a-monkey double-barreled hotness of Rose McGowan and my dream girl, super-hot and funny NYC geek girl Rosario Dawson. No pics were allowed by the studio, but I did get to chat with all of them, and they were all very nice and funny as hell, particularly Rosario. I got my “making of” book signed by the lot of them, and got the lovely Miss McGowan to sign a GRINDHOUSE poster for the barbecue joint’s kitchen. I then hightailed it back to Brooklyn and went on duty for my final shift.

When I arrived at work there was a palpable air of melancholy about the place, and the staff of the restaurant next door even hung up a sign letting me know I’d be missed.

And in the barbecue joint the daily drink special was changed to “the Bunche,” a shot of Jose Quervo tequila and a beer chaser, my nightly dose of choice now made available for those brave enough to surrender to its evil.

While I showed up ready to put my nose to the grindstone one last time, my kitchenmates wouldn’t have it, so I pretty much got to take it easy and chat with well-wishing regulars until we got fucking avalanched with takeout orders. But before that my boss and his family showed up to wish me well and thank me for my contributions to the restaurant over the past two years. And then we got slammed with so much bar traffic and people ordering food that the place had not one empty seat in the house for hours, so I wasn’t able to hang out with the friends and lunatics I had invited until about 9PM, an hour after my stated time of departure from the kitchen.

Once out in the dining/drunkenness area I threw myself into the festivities with Bacchanalian abandon, reveling in the good vibes, the laments at my leaving, the bevy of drunken hot chicks squashing their jubblies all over me (no, I did not get lucky, those cruel harpies), and the frightening amounts of Budweiser and tequila that found their way down my gullet. Luckily for me the party gods were on my side that night, and while I ended up rather looped and sentimental by the end of the night, I held it together well enough. My tolerance for the Budweiser/Cuervo mix is legendary, and after this special Saturday night I vow to put it to rest (at least as a daily, multiple-round act of boredom-diverting self-destruction).

Presiding over the bar was the joint’s Nordic nymph, Joy (aka “the Frost Giant’s Daughter”)

and the soundtrack for the night was provided by one of my absolute favorite regulars, one Soren DeSelby, who provided the discs full of stuff that not only I would love, but stuff to delight those in attendance and not send them fleeing for the door. Some of the patrons even complemented the bar on the music, making me happy, and Soren deservedly proud of his excellent efforts.

My little sister, Meredith, showed up with her boyfriend, Hugh (whom I liked quite a bit and hope to get to know) and got to meet several of my friends and extended family, charming the living shit out of them while virtually every guy in the house told me to my face that they wanted to nail her… Now, my sister is twenty-five tears old, has a boyfriend and can take care of herself, plus the fact I’m not an overprotective big brother, so I offer the following bit of advice to all horny guys (and, to be honest, a few of the women in attendance) in the known universe: if you want to nail some guy’s sister, don’t tell the guy, Tell the sister, and risk either a fun time or a solid right to the gob. I mean, what am I, a fucking pimp, for fuck’s sake?

During the rest of the night, as I wallowed in soused bliss and cheery tidings, I posed for pictures both straight and silly,

ruminated on just how much pulled pork can look exactly like vomit,

introduced my buddy Hughes to my other favorite Irishman, namely Garth Ennis,

and marveled at the sight of Harley the bunny deep in a trance induced by her owner.

No joke, I wandered over to where Erin sat and saw the cute little rabbit in her lap flat on her back, stiff as a board with her little legs pointing straight up to the ceiling. Erin explained how the bun was hypnotized, then she revived Harley by pressing a pressure point; the wee beast then groggily began to stir, sat upright and raised her ears to suss out the situation, none the worse for wear.

But all good things, and eras, must come to an end, so I departed the joint shortly before 3AM, taking advantage of a ride kindly offered by my friend, the foxy as a motherfucker Lia. All in all, a great sendoff, with the only thing missing being the presence of Tracey the waitress goddess, who was away for a reading of her literary works in New Orleans. I’ll see her again soon enough, though.

The scary part of all this is that I awoke the next morning at 11:30 WITHOUT A HANGOVER, and dropped in at the barbecue joint to turn in my final time sheet. Both joy and my former-kitchenmate, Andres, looked shocked to see me at all, much less feeling so chipper and ready to head into Manhattan for a full day of shopping. I bid them farewell and sauntered out into the beautiful, sunny day, my future uncertain but bound to be an upgrade, both creatively and socially.

So I bid you adieu, Bar BQ, and much continued success. My job there is done, so now it’s on to other things. Wish me luck!

Bunche — senior cook and force of nature at Bar BQ, A Brooklyn Barbecue Joint. March, 2005-March 2007

7 comments:

Jared said...

Now that's how last days should be. Much luck!

Red Stapler said...

I like how you can *just* see that Garth is holding Harley.

ADORABLE!

Also? Erin got a new bunny. His name is Bruiser.

::ded from cute::

See a pic here.

Coyote said...

Hey, Bunche- Fred here (that bald guy who came in with Velma and Soren once or twice.) I'm sorry I wasn't able to be there for your send-off; I'm glad it was a great one, and I hope to see you around!

Bobby the Blue Baxojayz said...

Steve, your tale nearly brought a tear to my eye. I remember about a dozen years ago leaving two jobs to start a career as an accountant. I t doesn't matter how much you might hate the customers or the work, it's still leaving a chapter of your life behind.

I only got to meet you once when Chi was in town. My wife and I still talk about the awesome you prepared that day. But in that brief meeting I was able to see what a delightful and funny human being you are. I wish you all teh best in your future endeavours!

Mike said...

bunche,
i'll never eat barbq again.
you are already missed sir.
The in-house stock of bear-porn is diminishing rapidly and i lack a partner for replacements.
-big mike

oneofhismoms said...

dangit. i didn't even ever get to go while you worked there. (dang distracting baby boy!) will you revive your yearly bar-BQ in the park now?

Chez said...

About a year and a half ago, I wandered into Bar-B-Q simply because it was the closest eating and drinking establishment to my apartment; I've never been sorry that I did.

The place became my home away from home for my entire stay in Brooklyn, and Bunche -- you became a good, good friend; one of my favorite people.

I don't get back there much these days, but I guarantee that when I do -- the place just won't be the same.

You'll be missed man, but congrats and good luck.