Archives for August 2013

The Mexican in the Kitchen (or Finding Happiness in Unexpected Ways)

Carnival Restaurant, 1954

Happy Waitress, 1954

“I totally hooked you up,” said our server, beaming at us as she piled extra grapes on our fruit et fromage plate. Then she leaned in closer and proclaimed, “I’m sleeping with the Mexican in the kitchen!”

 

My boyfriend and I made eye contact across the table. “Good for you!” he told her, enthusiastically.

The waitress squatted down beside our table and lowered her voice a bit. “I can’t tell anybody that works here, so I am telling all my customers!” she gushed, her eyes twinkling. “I think I’m having a midlife crisis or something. I mean, he is only 27 and I just turned 40 and, ha! He’s like five feet three and I’m almost six feet tall! But, it’s wonderful! We hang out every Tuesday night, and he is teaching me Spanish.”

While we sampled the cheese plate and sipped our wine, Kelly the Waitress proceeded to tell us about her fling with “the Mexican in the kitchen.” Apparently, she had a very successful 15-year career as a legal professional, and recently decided to “take a break” from that to experience life. She took the job as a server at a very laid-back, casual restaurant and was now living life to the fullest while contemplating her next career move.

She had flowing, strawberry blonde hair that was loosely pulled away from her face and adorned with yellow daisies. I could not even picture her all dressed up in a suit standing before a courtroom. She exuded a carefree, hippie attitude. It was contagious.

“My friends all tell me I should work in an upscale, fine dining restaurant so I could make more money,” Kelly was saying. “But I sweat too much for that! Besides, I like it here. And we just hired an Italian in the kitchen, so now I can learn to speak Italian, too!” She laughed and then asked us, “The Mexican is only like five-three. How short do you think the Italian will be?!”

Over the course of the evening, I found it ironic that Kelly was on a break from her lucrative career as a lawyer, and seemed to be loving her life. I, on the other hand, had given up full-time work in corporate America years ago, to pursue my dream of being a self-employed graphic designer and writer. Now in my early 40s, I was thinking it might be a good idea to enter back into that corporate world, if only for the steady income and insurance benefits.

“I bet she is a Cancer or an Aquarius,” I told my boyfriend. “She’s so flowy! She has to be a water sign.”

Kelly came back to our table a few minutes later and I posed the question to her. To my boyfriend’s amazement, she was indeed a Cancer, just like me. I was not surprised by this, but I was totally blown away when she told me that her birthday was the exact same day as mine! We were just a couple years apart to the day, living on opposite sides of our career paths. She is nearly six feet tall; I am just five feet. My midlife crisis is the thought of going back to work full-time; hers is waitressing and learning Spanish from a much younger (much shorter) Mexican sous-chef.

After a couple glasses of wine, and an empty fruit et fromage plate, we said goodbye. Kelly asked us to come back and see her soon so she could give us the latest update on her life. “You guys were so much fun!” she told us. “All my customers should be like you!”

Maybe, when you find happiness in your own life – whether it means taking time off from your career, finding pleasure in your freelance work, or sleeping with the Mexican in the kitchen – everything really is that much more fun.

How the Editor of Atlanta Magazine Guilted Me into Paying for a Subscription and Hollis Gillespie Made Me Write About It

My own paid-for copies of Atlanta Magazine.

My own paid-for copies of Atlanta Magazine.

The whole reason I became motivated to take my blog to the next level and become a professional, paid writer, is because Hollis Gillespie had sex with George Clooney. Who is Hollis Gillespie you ask? She is the very talented back page columnist for Atlanta magazine. If it weren’t for her writing, and Steve Fennessy, the editor in chief of the magazine, who guilted me into paying for a year’s subscription, you might not be reading this. But, thanks to Hollis and Steve, I am full of inspiration.

It all started at a class reunion in our small hometown in upstate New York where I gushed to Steve about how much I loved reading Atlanta magazine.

“Every time I am in a doctor’s office waiting for an appointment, I dig through the slew of tabloids and copies of Cosmopolitan to find the latest three issues of Atlanta, and then I read them frantically, beginning with your letter, absorbing as much as I can before I am called for my appointment!”

“Really, Karla?” said Steve, raising an eyebrow while taking a sip of his beer. “It’s like twelve bucks a year. You can’t pay for a subscription?”

I was ashamed. I had known Steve since third grade. We were in the same classes all through high school. I still remember the nickname our eccentric 11th grade English teacher gave him. The least I could do was pay for my own copies of the magazine to support my childhood friend in his literary success.

Today, when my paid issue of Atlanta arrives in my mailbox each month, instead of turning immediately to the letter from the editor, I now flip to the back page to read my favorite columnist’s latest belletristic masterpiece. What the editor in chief from my hometown has to say, now takes a backseat to Hollis Gillespie, because I aspire to write like her; to have her quick and biting wit (i.e. “Sold! One injectable procedure to the drunk in the red cummerbund. You’ll only feel a tiny little prick. I’m sure that’s nothing new to you.”  – From Ms. Gillespie’s latest back page exposition entitled, “Eating Your Words: Humiliation is a dish best served cold.”)

One day after reading Hollis’s column, “When Hollis Met George” (May 2013) about how, according to a local Southern preacher, she technically had sex with George Clooney, I decided to check out her website. The next thing you know, I was signed up for a six-hour writing seminar spearheaded by Hollis and her colleague, Mike Alvear, columnist, author and co-host of HBO’s The Sex Inspectors. The seminar was fantastic and told me everything I needed to know about taking my blog to the next level, drinking champagne before noon, and how advertising is like sex. Mike even thought that my blog was about my hymen. (Note to self: Speak slowly when telling others the name of my website.)

After taking this writing seminar with Hollis and Mike, the very next day, I wrote my most-viewed article to date: “How Kitchens are Like Penises and Why Women’s Feet Keep Getting Bigger”. It must have been all that champagne before noon and sex talk that inspired me. So, I need to pay tribute to Steve, Hollis and Mike for inspiring me in ways that they are most likely entirely unaware. This has absolutely nothing to do with namedropping the famous Atlantans with whom I know personally, or with whom I email regularly. Just because they don’t always reply, doesn’t mean they aren’t reading them. My guess is they are logging on to their laptops to read my blog every time they are in a doctor’s office waiting room.

P.S. You can purchase books by Hollis and Mike from the right column of this website. Some day, you will be able to purchase my books from the side of their websites.