Cooking Duel Theatre 3000

Cooking Duel Theatre 3000

     ​There was no reason to split a 12 pack in their parent’s living room on a Tuesday night while watching The Food Network, but there was no reason not to, so they popped open a Yuengling each.

​     One of the many Chef-off competition shows had started, and they were about to introduce the contestants as Stevie and Emilia lounged on their respective couches. The first chef was introduced and his audition tape began to play. “I’m Giacomo Roccorito, Executive Chef at Strive in Manhattan, a fine dining restaurant in the mecca of modern cuisine.” Emilia wasn’t having it, “oh my god, I already hate this guy. Your name is not Giacomo Roccorito, that’s nobody’s name, shut up.” “I’m classically trained and sickly ambitious. I like sexy, exciting food, the kinda food that just pops off the plate.” “Anyone who refers to food as sexy really needs to kill themselves, and quickly,” Stevie added. “I may be young, but I’m already very accomplished in the industry, and these other Chefs better watch out… yea, I got a few tricks up my sleeve,” Giacomo confidently laughed after this statement. Stevie put his beer down and began gesturing at the T.V with his hands, “why are you laughing, stop fake laughing, stop being you.” Emilia added, “he really needs to stop being him, he has to be someone else, immediately.” “I hate him.” “He better lose.” The next chef was introduced and her audition tape began to play. “I’m Stacy Stason, I’m 24, I’m a Sous Chef at Berri in Williamsburg in Brooklyn, and I came here to win, so these other chefs better steer clear.” “I bet she’s here to prove that she can hang with the guys,” Emilia said. “I live and breathe food, I may look sweet, but I’m a fierce competitor. It’s a male dominated industry, and I’m here to show the boys what we girls can do in the kitchen.” “I think Stacy is setting women back by trying to show the boys what she can do in the kitchen.” “It’s only setting us back if she loses to that first douchebag.” The next chef was introduced. “I’m Jeffrey Gosewich and I’m Chef/Owner of Morning Catch in Portland, Maine. I may not work in a fancy New York restaurant, but I got the experience and skills to take this money back to Portland.” “I think Big Jeff should focus his bitterness on Portland, Oregon before he goes after New York, baby steps.” Emilia replied, “Jeff Gosewich has already surpassed that Portland in his mind, he’s going right for those fancy bastards.” “Bold Jeff Gosewich, very bold.” “I have two beautiful daughters, and unfortunately, this business doesn’t afford you much free time. So I wanna win for them. The money would let me spend more time with them, and they can say ‘hey, my dad’s a champ’.” “They’re never going to say that, you’re living in a god damn fantasy land Jeff Gosewich.” Emilia laughed, “how would ten thousand dollars help him spend more time with his kids? What’s he gonna abandon his restaurant for 3 weeks and hang out with them, until he realizes ten thousand dollars isn’t life changing?” “Hahaha seriously, like you can’t even get a new car with that money. Buy a plane ticket out of that fantasy land Jeff Gosewich and just start a college fund or some shit… and continue to neglect your children to pursue your dream, you selfish fuckin Jeff Gosewich. What a fuckin Jeff Gosewich this guy is.” “Yea they don’t need you anyway Jeff Gosewich.” The last Chef was introduced, her tape began to play as Stevie opened up two more Yuenglings. “I’m Mia Bertones, I’m 28 and I’m a Personal Chef and Caterer living in Miami.” Stevie took a few sips from his beer, “big gal.” Emilia had a mouthful of beer and was trying not to spit any out, “terrible.” “I know, I’m sorry Mia, for all I know you have a glandular disorder.” “I’ve always loved cooking and being in the kitchen from when I was a little girl cooking with my mother.” “Here it comes.” “Earlier this year my mother passed away… but I know she’s looking down on me… and I’m gonna win this for her.” Stevie asked, “how long until she brings up that her mother’s dead to the judges?” Emilia replied, “maybe she’ll do it before the first round even starts. They’ll unveil the ingredients and she’s gonna just yell out ‘MY MOTHER’S DEAD’.” Stevie laughed, “these people have no shame, what do they think like they’re not gonna care that their food sucks because their parents are dead?” Emilia began imitating a judge on the show, “well, this is the absolute worst, most over cooked, under seasoned piece of salmon I’ve ever eaten… but it’s really tough what you’ve been through, so here’s then thousand dollars.”

     ​Stevie was younger than Emilia by three years, but had a good eight inches on her. “How do I always end up on this retarded, tiny ass half a couch?” “Shut up, that’s how.” Stevie took a long sip from the bottle, “ohhhhh, that’s how.” He shifted around trying to find a way to get comfortable with his lanky limbs hanging off all sides of the couch, “this couch is fuckin ridiculous!” “You look very funny right now,” Emilia said while taking out her phone, “don’t move.” She took a picture and laughed, “that’s quite good.” “I’m glad… Let me see.” She threw her phone over to him, he laughed, “I look like a fuckin giant, invading a planet of dumb little couches.” “Yes, yes you do.” “But seriously, why is this here, why do we have this?” “I really don’t know… Not mom’s best decision. I’m surprised, she usually has better taste. I don’t know why she went with these like modern art chairs that are hard to sit on.” “Time to take her out back. If these are the choices she’s making, her time is up.” “That’s your line? For killing your mother? Poor couch choices?” He took another long sip, “yes. What’s the saying? Time to let her go graze? Throw her outside?” “Put her out to pasture?” “That’s the one. We gotta do that, you get a bad couch, you get put out to pasture.” “Harsh.” “Harsh, yes. Harsh but fair.” Emilia laughed, “but is it?” “There’s gotta be consequences. You can’t just go floating through life buying little couches when all of your sons are over 6 feet.” “Yea, but you’re the only one who still lives here.” Stevie felt his argument dwindling, “stop defending this dumb little couch, you come sit on it if you think mom should live.” Emilia took a sip from her bottle, “on second thought, maybe she needs to go… Speaking of dead mothers, this Mia broad is trying to make rice in the appetizer round.” “When will these fucks learn?” “How many people have to undercook rice on this show before they realize rice takes too long.” “She’s gonna be pushing that sob story hard.” “Yea, make up some lie about how her mother was able to cook rice in five minutes.” “I wish Joe Pesci was one of the judges for that, ‘was dis magic rice? Did she buy from da same guy who sold Jack his bean stalk beans?’” Emilia laughed and there was a brief pause in the conversation as they watched the show, then Stevie went back to his Pesci impression, “’are you sure about dose five minutes, are you sure about dose five minutes?!’” They both laughed, “I would give anything for that to happen right now.” “Let’s just put Cousin Vinny on.”

     They didn’t change the channel. They didn’t switch seats. They opened up a bag of Garden Salsa Sun Chips, they still had half the 12 pack left.

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Girls With Strange Names

      My alarm would go off at 430, everything would still be dark, and I’d just think, “fuck, still? I still have to do this?” And that’s how it was for the entirety of our relationship. I’d wake up before the sun and just feel like, “fuck…” As I started driving in, I would think, “maybe I’ll get into a wreck and I won’t have to go in today, wouldn’t that be awesome,” but it never happened. She was away at school about 86% of the time, so it wasn’t like I was waking up next to a beautiful, warm body. I was just waking up and feeling “fuck.”
    My exes name was pretty standard, but it had a twist, a nice lemon twist. She had a “Y” where most white people with her name used an “I.” So it was different, she was different. She had a lemon twist, and a “Y” where there was typically an “I,” she was intriguing and smart and hilarious, stunning, but she was also intense, felt a good many feelings, intensely. It wasn’t easy. Her not being white was a lemon twist as well, but in a way I hadn’t considered, I wouldn’t say that was the main reason she was my ex, but it wasn’t not the reason.
   People told me interracial relationships were hard, but I would say, “pfffffft, it’s 2014-2016, wake up people, it’s merely a lemon twist!” And it was to a certain extent, but a more complex lemon twist, a lemon-lime twist, the kind of twist that could make your lips pucker. We ended on good terms, but I’d be lying if I said there weren’t moments of puckering towards the end.
      I wasn’t waking before the sun anymore, I was waking up whenever I wanted. Funemployment the kid’s were calling it. I was however still waking up cold. Waking up next to a beautiful, warm body was down from 14% of the time to 0%, due to the puckering. When I decided to finally rise for the day, I would go to a local urban farm where I volunteered most of my free, sober time.
    The first girl I hooked up with, post puckering and lemon twists, was named after a famed European city, but she was American, borderline southern. We met at the Jersey shore, she did farm things as well, that was my in. She had a ridiculous voice, almost cartoonish, but she was a delight to look at, and even a greater delight to roll around the sand with. I didn’t even mind her unshaven legs, like her name, they had a strange appeal. She was couch surfing and wasn’t comfortable having sex on a public beach or her friends living room couch, so we never consummated. I never fully recovered from the blue balling of that weekend. But I’m confident that if I ever found myself near the borderline south, I could pay a visit to the famed European city.
   The girl who snapped my drought was a friend of the famed European city, and her name, well her name actually sounded quite Southern. But I think she was from like Connecticut or something, go figure. Her name sounded like hospitality, or a tire swing next to a rickety old porch, or sweet tea, or a pie made with some berry you’d never heard of before. We were hanging out at another mutual friend’s birthday party, a few months after my fling with the famed European city. We were back at our mutual friend’s house later on that night, and the dog kept trying to cock block me, every time she would touch my dick, the dog came over and use it’s mouth to throw a pillow on my face and started barking. The dog eventually left us alone, but I was like fuck, what has to happen for me to get laid. This drought was lengthy, and I really needed this sweet tea, this farkleberry pie. I wasn’t particularly attracted to her, maybe that’s why I didn’t remember exactly where she said she was from, or any other information about her at all.
      I had to wake up again, but the sun was up when I did, so it wasn’t all bad. The pay was bad, I guess when you were limited, you had to wake up before the sun to make decent money, who knew. The farm wasn’t able to employ me, but the restaurant that bought there produce was, so suddenly I was a cook. I had zero professional kitchen experience, so I was uneasy, felt like a fraud. I dreaded every order that came in.
     I was seeing my future sister in law’s best friend. She had a boy’s name with a few extra “e’s” added to make it sound feminine. I was a fan of that. The sex was phenomenal. The conversation, less than thrilling. This was a delicate situation. Not too long before that, before the farkleberry pie, I was in a Californiaesque drought, I remembered how tough it was out there, most girl’s had regular names. She was one of my future sister in law’s bridesmaids, I was one of my brother’s groomsmen. We were gonna be walking down the aisle together at their upcoming wedding. This was a delicate situation. We were fucking around for like a month or so, and it was feeling pretty casual. I felt like she wasn’t looking for that, perhaps because she mentioned she wasn’t comfortable with a casual relationship after the first time we had sex. I made her a nice birthday card, but wasn’t taking her on dates or talking to her that often or anything like that. I figured if i kept this up any longer, I was skating along the edge of being a pretty shitty person. The longer I kept up this charade the more awkward walking down the aisle at my brother’s wedding would be. The sex was phenomenal, she was quite attractive. But the conversation…less than thrilling. I had an out, I had just started cooking professionally. I pulled the “its not you, it’s me,” but with a lemon twist. I said, “it’s not you, it’s not me… it’s the job! Too much stress, too many hours, I don’t know what I’m doing, it wouldn’t be fair to you. I couldn’t be as present as I would want to be in a more than casual relationship.” Hook, line, and sinker, I couldn’t believe how well that worked. Nobody was hurt, but I was back out there.
    I woke up hungover and went to this party where I didn’t think I was going to know anyone, I was dreading it all day before going there. Ended up having a blast, I met this girl who I kinda met a few times before, but had never had a conversation with. I just assumed she wasn’t interested, but on that day she was interested from the second I walked in. She was named after a color, and not some bland primary or secondary color, it was a tertiary, or whatever comes after tertiary, color. We hung out, danced, talked, all that jazz, the entire party. She was smart, and the kind of hot only rich girls could pull off, charismatic, and kind of annoying, but I was very drawn in. I was in the beginning stages of what felt like could be another substantial drought, who was I to knit pick just because she was harmonizing without jest with her sister to a Mariah Carey song. She was a Manhattanite, openly and knowledgeably talked about the anatomy of the vagina and how orgasms worked, you know that kind of girl, the kind that’s named after a tertiary color. After the impromptu anatomy lesson, I figured I was in. After I dropped her off at the train and we exchanged numbers and later got one of those dumb ass emoji things sent to me, I knew I was in. A few party goers even went out of their way to say things like, “by the way, you’re totally in.” I texted her some pedestrian joke about my terrible spelling a few days later, trying to get a conversation started, and she didn’t answer me for a day. When she finally did answer, she was short and uninterested. I was baffled. These storm clouds were a fake out, they passed right over, leaving me parched and smoldering.
   I had to wait for a girl named after a poem, or the wind, or something to come along now. Who knew how long that would be. I didn’t have many options at work, but they finally hired a real looker as a waitress. I felt like we were flirting a good deal, but then she mentioned something about a firefighter boyfriend. This wasn’t surprising, she had a pretty regular name, girl’s with regular names loved firemen, and dudes in the army. Heros. I was no hero, I wanted to wake up when I felt like it.

Lemonade Stand

Seriously, who am I? Who am I to give this guy any shit? We’re all on this train alone, I’m gonna judge this guy? I’m gonna judge this guy because he’s old and fat? I’m gonna judge this guy because he’s old and fat and looks homeless and has a jug of pink lemonade? I’m gonna judge this guy because he’s old and fat and looks homeless and has a jug of pink lemonade that he knocked over while he was sleeping? Who the fuck am I? I’m gonna judge this guy?  Because he knocked over this pink lemonade and it’s flowing down the entire length of the train and looks like the Nile River? I’m gonna judge him? Because the pink lemonade split the train in two? Have I seen the Nile River? Has he? I don’t think so, so neither of us has seen it. So who the fuck am I? I’m gonna judge this guy? I’m on some kinda superior Staten Island train? Some higher train than this fuckin guy? Why? Because I’m younger and thinner and have options in life? Do I? Is that why? What, I’m gonna judge him? We’re on the same train. So what’s the difference, really? I had a lemonade stand when I was younger, sure, it wasn’t much money. Now I’m grown, and not a whole lot is different in that regard. I’m on the train, and I’m not going back to my own place, and I’ve never seen the Nile, and I bet he’s never seen the Nile, but who am I to judge? Maybe he has, I don’t know this fuckin guy, I’m gonna judge him? Sure he spilled a jug of pink lemonade, sure it split the train in half like the Nile, sure he’s old, and fat, and looks homeless, and he spilled the pink lemonade, sure. But who the fuck am I? I’m on the other side of the river, I’m taking train too at 2 a.m. on a Tuesday. I’m going somewhere. He’s going somewhere. And who the fuck am I anyway? Get real, we’re both going somewhere, and it ain’t the Nile. I got off before him, by that time he picked up the jug of pink lemonade, but who cares, it left a stream, like the Nile River, but who cares. I got off before him, and he got after, and we both had less lemonade, so what did it matter.

You Know What I’m Saying

It’s that thing, it’s like that thing. You know the feeling, you know, you’re at a party or at work or some shit, and you meet this person and you’re like “fuck, woah, what the fuck is this about.” And you get excited, you get too excited, but you play it cool, because you have to. You have no other choice but to play it cool. Not playing it cool would mean losing that feeling. And let’s face it, that’s the best feeling, you’re talking to this person and you’re like “wait a minute…” That’s the best.

But let’s face it, even if it goes well, and you play it cool, you don’t know this person. You like to think they’re thinking “holy shit,” but the vast majority of the time they’re thinking, “I wonder what’s the quickest way home if I leave in a half hour,” or “how late is that taco truck open,” or they’re thinking “holy shit.” But it’s usually the taco truck. And you can’t really blame them, because they don’t know you. Not that it would matter if they did.

That’s the thing about that thing, that feeling. Even when the stars align and all parties involved are feeling that thing, and they have that feeling, sooner or later they’re going to know you, at least some of you and that’s no good, because you get too excited. And “wait a minute…” turns into “can you gimme a fuckin minute!” it turns into “can I get a fuckin word in!” it turns into “you’re putting words in my mouth.” And nobody is playing it cool anymore, everyone is playing a game of is this still worth it, and even when it isn’t, you still hold on, because who wants to wait for the next time lighting strikes and you get that feeling. The next time you think “woah, what the fuck is this, wait a minute.” Because even if you do think that, they’ll likely be thinking of tacos. And you don’t want to wait for the stars to align, and why would you. That thing doesn’t happen very often, and time alone is mostly spent drifting towards and around insanity. It’s mostly spent drifting around thoughts of that thing.

Drinking With Dogs

It felt like you were doing something, and at the end of the day that’s all you were looking for. You just wanted to feel productive, like you were contributing to the greater good in one way or another. It was something you could put on a resume, so fostering dogs wasn’t nothing, however it rarely felt like work.

It beat drinking by yourself, that’s for sure, you did that for long enough, and sooner or later you had to start asking yourself some tough questions. And let’s face it, you’d rather stare at these pups than stare in the mirror.

It may not have felt like work, but hey, they weren’t gonna let themselves out of their crates to piss. You got thumbs, and that was something.

It wasn’t like they were plants or robots, these guys and gals had personality, hell, you could call them guys and gals. Fritz, the main guy, your permanent one, was a real shit. Cute as fuck, but a real shit. But you loved him, and you forgave him for being such a shit. But if ever it did feel like work, it was usually because of him. He was the jealous type, and small as fuck, you never saw a dog who hated other dogs like Fritzy hated every other dog he came across. You would say to him, “why can’t you just play like every other dog on the god damn planet, why are you such a shit?” And he would jump up and lick your face, and keep licking your face. With some dogs it went beyond hate, the second he saw them all his hair would stand straight up and he wanted to kill them. But he wasn’t killing anything, because he was a little shit. He would bully the smaller fosters, and try it on the bigger ones until they eventually had enough of his shit and would beat his little ass. You would say to him, “how many dogs need to beat your ass before you get that you’re a little shit?” And he would jump up and maniacally lick your face.

Patches, the latest long term foster, put Fritz in his place the other day after Fritz was bullying a little guy. Fritz yelped and bared his teeth, but Patches just calmly held him down as if to say, “look at you, you’re such a shit,” and you laughed and sipped your beer, because Fritz had it coming.

Patches was choice, he’d seen some shit in his day, was locked in a trailer somewhere in the sticks with a bunch of other dogs. He was scared shitless of you when you first got him. You couldn’t go within 5 feet of him or he would whine out of pure fear,  shake uncontrollably, and his stomach would make this crazy rumbling noise. You didn’t know exactly what the previous owners did to him, and you didn’t really wanna know. But now he slept on your head at night and he’d whine when you weren’t petting him.

Outside of work, you spent about 87% of your time with dogs. And not at dog parties with other dog owning humans. Only dogs. You felt justified for talking to yourself so much. You just said all the bullshit that came out of your face to them, then told them how cute and stupid they were. So it felt more like a give and take. And if they barked you would say, “shuttt upppp,” then you would pet their faces. They would keep you up sometimes with their barking, but hey, nobody’s perfect.

You’d call all of them “buddy.” You’d say, “hey buddy,” “what’s up there buddy,” but then you took in a dog actually named “Buddy,” and boy, was that a confusing couple of days for everybody involved.

Patches recently got himself a little girlfriend, you teased him mercilessly, but it did’t phase him. They run around the yard, biting each other’s necks, while you’d leave Fritz in the bedroom. Fritz wouldn’t stand for other dogs enjoying themselves; Fritz the Fun Police, you’d call him.

Fritz loved eating shit. At first it was just his shit, now it was everybody’s shit. You’d catch him in the act and yell, “HEY,” and he’d get the last few bites before you ran over to stop him. You’d say, “Stop eating shit, you fuckin’ weirdo,” and he’d jump up and try to lick your face, but you’d swat him away because his breath smelled like shit.

Fritz and Patches tolerated each other, sometimes they’d attempt some form of playing, but Fritz was dumb and a shit, so he didn’t know exactly how to play. They were indifferent towards each other, but that’s all you could really hope for with Fritz. But they were your core crew for the time being, until Patches eventually gets adopted, but you didn’t want to think about that. For now, they were your guys, and you weren’t alone, ever if you were the only one drinking. Patches slept on your head, Fritz curled up at the back of your knee, he’d contour with how your leg would bend.