Thursday, May 29

Surreality, cont'd

I notice that BetteDavisLies over at Complacencies of the Peignoir has a post up about strange encounters of late. (If you're not already reading this blog, may I politely insist that you do so immediately? It's good stuff.)

I have an incomplete and unoriginal theory about the strangeness that periodically seeps through the linen-wrapped Southern spring and summer days: It's all about the heat. We all go a little more nuts the higher the mercury climbs. We try to be still and watch the world move around us so as to not get any hotter and sweatier than we already are, so what usually feels like molasses-as-usual moving around us is suddenly transformed into something completely cracked out. Something like anthropomorphic, slightly mentally unstable dandelion seeds floating in all directions, carried by whims and wind. But just because you remain calm and still doesn't mean those crazy seeds won't find you and implant themselves directly in your slackened mouth.

This weekend my oldest friend Palm Tree, who lives in Buffalo, N.Y., came into town, driven by none other than Lady Sarah Saint. We had less than twenty-four hours together, so we crammed as much of Memphis in as we could. Okay, as Much Memphis food as we could.

Our midday milkshake break took us to Quetzal, where I planned to knock down a Dark Ruby (an unholily delicious combination of ice cream, espresso, chocolate sauce and raspberry). We pulled into the back parking lot and, upon seeing the establishment's proprietor standing with another person at the back door, I decided to pantomime putting money into the parking meter so as to not risk death or, even worse, a parking ticket. (I remember when Quetzal's back parking lot was free and I refuse to acknowledge that it is anything but free now, but I will pretend to put money in the honesty slot when necessary.)

We walked to the door slowly because the proprietor (whose name I know but feel uncomfortable using because I don't know him personally, so let's just call him, I don't know, FRED) and his young gentleman friend were having somewhat of a friendly spat there in the doorway. Both of them were wearing plain white T-shirts and I was briefly worried that we would be violating some sort of dress code were we to gain entrance. Fred put his hand on the young man's neck as if to pull him inside the building and clear the doorway for us, but the young man was having none of it.

He finally followed Fred into the building and cleared the path for us. We followed him down the ramp into the dining room, and I realized, upon tracking his zig-zagging path with my eagle eyes, that he was shitfaced. We kept our pace slow so as to not draw his attention; I don't care to interact with dudes who are so drunk that they can't walk a semi-straight line. Dude was all over the place. So the three of us stood and stared at the menu (I never can remember how to order at Quetzal) and waited for someone to ask us if we'd like to order something. This seemingly painless server/customer transaction took a painfully long time, as everyone there seemed to be completely engrossed in Drunk Dude's hijinks, which included wandering behind the counter and stumbling around in places where no one was standing.

Drunk Dude eyed me, PT, and SS, and asked, squinty-eyed, "How Y'ALL doin'?!"

"Pretty good," I replied, sparing my guests the awkwardness of interacting with a random drunk Memphian. "How are YOU doing?"

Drunk Dude gave me an enthusiastic yet squinty-eyed thumbs up: "I'm doing FUCKING AWESOME."

Finally, someone was prepared to take our orders at the register, but clerk dude balked when I told him our order was not to go. He told us to have a seat, and that we'd get quicker service that way.

My mind thoroughly boggled (I mean, how complicated would it have been for him to take our orders then instead of having us go to a table so he had to walk over to get our orders?), I led the group dejectedly to a table to sit and wait to be waited on. It took a bit, but finally some chipper blonde-haired lady came out to take our orders. We tried ordering various things, only to find out that the place was out of whipped cream AND white chocolate. FOR SHAME. But we rolled with the punches and placed our orders and waited, all the while keeping tabs on Drunk Dude, who was obviously either a current or former employee with a chip on his sleeve and a lack of things to do in the middle of the day that would keep him from coming to work completely drunk.

We got our 'shakes, finally, and they were divine. Truly transcendent. Then we heard the tell-tale whack-tinkle-crash of someone's accidental fuck-up as who knows how many glass items went crashing to the fashionable concrete floor. We're thinking that obviously Drunk Dude has started thrashing about, but I spot him next to the bar and he looks back at me and gives me what is possibly the best fist-pump I've ever seen. As in, Dude, did you hear that fucking shit crash?! Fucking A!

It is at this point that the funk music playing on the PA suddenly gets unbelievably, unbearably loud. Like, they took it to eleven. We were screaming across the table to be heard. I can only speak for myself, but I thought it was awesome because they were playing "Rollercoaster of Love," and if there's one song you need to crank up, it's that one. We start grooving to the stupidly loud music and suddenly it gets cut off and there's silence. The dining room — consisting now of us plus one dude on a laptop, one woman and her companion eating lunch, and three people sharing a computer in the computer lounge portion of the dining room — is confused. The music starts up again, this time playing "Brick House," LOUD. There is dancing. The wait staff is grooving. Our server is booty-dancing back in the kitchen. We're nursing our milkshakes. The three older people on the computer are dancing. Our server dances with another server out on the floor. The music switches back over to "Rollercoaster." I feel like I'm living a moment out of someone's much cooler life.

We're informed that within thirty minutes Quetzal will be closed. We suck down the remainder of our milkshakes and wait on our server to bring us the check. We send her back with a card and wait on the receipt to sign.

Suddenly waiter dude from earlier (the one who told us to go sit down) comes over to our table, caution in his eyes, and gives us a WTF look: "Um, we're closing!" he screams over the music. "Yeah, we know! She's got our card!" we scream, gesturing wildly toward the counter. How dare he make us feel like idiots.

Receipt signed, we grooved our way out of Quetzal that evening, taking note of our fellow restaurant-goers and their hilarious white-people dancing. (We were all doing hilarious white-people dancing.) It was one of the oddest forty-five minute sequences I've ever lived through. Odd in a good way, though.

Then PT and SS and I went to Rite-Aid for Advil and guess who was at the front desk being silly and outlandish with his customers! For bonus points, guess what toothy Australian disco band was playing on the PA.

I'm telling you, it's the heat.

UPDATE: Thanks to my pal PT, we've got a video snippet! If you watch closely behind Sarah, you can see our server doin' some brief rumpshakin'.

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Blogger TVonthefritz said...

You live a rich life.

Tell stories at The Moth. Shit, I wanna tell your stories at the Moth. They're comedy gold.

Thu May 29, 10:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am working on a monster post about the trip. You beat me. Damn you!!!!

Heh, but seriously I haven't had real, honest-to-goodness belly laughs like I did with you and Sarah in...well, a really freaking long time. It was awesome.

Thu May 29, 11:14:00 AM  
Blogger dave said...

a few things.

1. thanks for the referral, your friend's blog looks really cool. is that a memphian? memphibian?

2. i've long had the same theory about the heat. it gets even worse in place where the heat regularly spikes into the triple digits (that is to say, arizona, barstow ca, such and such) and truly odd folk sprout up, but because they're in the middle of the f*cking desert no one really takes notice. i think the rising temperature activates whatever evolutionary throwback part of our brain stem we share with the lizard kingdom...seriously though, can't you feel your brain kind of "shifting gears" or whatever when it starts to just get really ridiculously f*ckall hot out? i can

3. that parking lot belongs to the strip club next door, not quetzal. during the day you're probably not going to need to bother paying - at night they can be a little more vigilant in terms of booting/towing/etc so anyway just bear that in mind

4. as a former (and potentially future) employee of that institution i can attest to the fact that every single f*cking day is like that at quetzal. seriously, i never drew a breath in that place where i felt like i knew what was going to happen next. kind of hair-raisingly fun but also could make you want to shoot yourself if you just were in the mood for maybe a nice quiet day around the office, so to speak. glad it didn't rattle you too much, i wish i could have been there. i'll probably be back slinging milkshakes and sass by the end of the week. i dunno, we'll see.

Thu May 29, 11:24:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oooh, I forgot to agree that "Love Rollercoaster" is the most awesome, most worthy of cranking up song ever. And also my sister's ringtone.

Thu May 29, 12:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Robert in PA said...

Fantastic post, Lindsey, right up there with the Rite Aid opus of only days ago. Perhaps during your vacation you were exposed to some sort of mutant insect bite that caused your writerly skills to multiply to superhuman dimensions. I also would have to agree that Rollercoaster of Love is high on the crankability scale. Having been a schoolboy when Rollercoaster of Love originally came out in the bad old 70s -- I can hear it now above the ominous creaks and cracks of the Zippin' Pippin at Libertyland -- I associate this song with the urban folk myth that sprang up around it. During what a later generation of musicians would decide to call the "instrumental breakdown," an apparently feminine scream can be heard, way far back in the mix. This much is so. However, the UFM was that this scream came about because of a random act of stabbing in the studio somewhere -- yeah, right -- and that the band liked it so much they just left it in. I kid you not. They liked it *so* much they left it in.

Fri May 30, 10:22:00 AM  
Blogger sarah saint said...

Awesome!! *fist pump*

You know how to show a couple ladies a good time :)

Sun Jun 01, 09:32:00 AM  

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