There’s something to be said for a good, cathartic cry–that is, for everyone else but me.
I’m not a big crier (I’d only be into public service if I was promised my coworker would be Andy Dwyer), and I’d like to think I’m pretty well in control of my emotions. There are a few exceptions, of course, that turn me into a babbling brook:
1) My Dog Skip–the saddest, most sadistic movie ever made.
2) Those abandoned pet commercials, shot in black and white and narrated by Willie Nelson, and set to that Sarah MacLachlan song that every school in the world plays at graduation.
3) Thinking about the $13.50 I spent on seeing Like Crazy, the newly released version of Blue Valentine for hipsters.
But beyond those mostly animal-related sights, I’m good. I don’t like babies, and the Olympics aren’t until next summer, so I have plenty of time to steel myself for the gymnastics finals.
…a very large and important event. This is an event at which people pay thousands of dollars to sit at an ordinary table and eat a meal.
I was told time and time again by my superiors that this was an important event, perhaps the most important event of the season. Now, my approach to catering is very simple: don’t drop anything. Keely can do whatever she wants when she caters, except drop something. That’s it, that’s all Keely requires of herself: the ability to not drop things. Sometimes, it’s hard to have that ability
Especially when you’re balancing eight glasses on a silver tray, and your arm is starting to go weak because you haven’t had a baby, and you aren’t required to have the upper body strength to wield an infant in order to get seated first at the airport, and let’s face it, that’s the only reason you’d ever have a baby, but you’ve probably made yourself barren anyway through sheer force of will so it doesn’t matter anyway, so long as you keep that arm up and those glasses balanced.
Unfortunately, I can’t say I dropped a tray of eight stone-goblet-glasses. I dropped a tray of one glass.
I had one champagne flute, full of the prettiest, bubbliest pink champagne this side of An Affair to Remember, balanced on a the prettiest, shiniest silver tray. And then someone bumped me. As I tripped, the glass tipped, and spilled lovely pink champagne all over the back of a woman’s head. It spilled down her beautifully coiffed hair, then down the back of her tailor-made gown. I could not have aimed it better if I’d tried.
And she was so cool about it. She was upset, of course, but she didn’t shout or curse, or even ask to see my boss. I, on the other hand, graciously thanked her for being so understanding, apologized for the thousandth time, sprinted to the bathroom past the Hispanic maids who smoke out the bathroom window, and burst into violent tears. I sobbed, loud, and I don’t sob, loud or otherwise. I studied theatre at the Lee Strasberg Institute. I believe in silent, beautiful, solitary tears that glide slowly and cinematically down the cheek. This crying was deeply unMethod. I even did that thing that kids do when they sob so hard that when they try to take a breath, they choke on their bottom lip. This will forever after be known as “lipchoke.” The Hispanic maids whispered quickly and departed.
Once I had choked on my lip one too many times and the lack of oxygen knocked a little composure back into me, I went back to the kitchen. My serving partner came up to me with a worried expression on his face. Maybe it’s because my serving partner looks just like Henry from Henry and Mudge, but regardless, thus began the evening’s theme, which was: I cannot say “I spilled champagne on a woman’s head” without bursting into tears. Our exchange went just so:
Henry: Hey, I covered your table–woah, what happened to your eyes?
Me: I have a cockeye.
Henry: No–what? There’s black stuff on your face.
Me: Oh, it’s nothing.
Henry: No, seriously, what’s wrong?
Me: I–I spilled champagne–(lipchoke)
Henry: Oh my God. Please don’t cry. Have you told anyone?
Me: No, I–I should.
So I go in search of my boss to confess. If the catering company hierarchy mirrored that of the Seven Deadly Exes in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Henry would be Matthew Patel, and this boss I began searching for would be Todd Ingram the Psychic Vegan–beautiful, intimidating, and full of menacing authority. I found Scott, who was standing right next to the bar where all of the servers pick up their drink orders. Our exchange went just so:
Me: I, I was serving drink orders, and when I went out to me table, I was holding a glass on the silver tray, and I tripped, and I–I spilled champagne–(lipchoke)–I spilled champagne–
Todd: Oh my God, sweetie. Are you upset? Look at me.
Me: Uh uh.
Todd: Come on, look at me.
Me: (looks up)
Todd: This is catering. Of course you’re going to spill things! It’s so fine. Take a minute, go outside, stop crying, and then show her to me. I’ll take care of it.
Meanwhile, all of the servers are walking by, witnessing my breakdown as they pick up their drink orders from the bar. I go outside the kitchen, and I just can’t stop crying. I’m crying just as much, if not more, as I was when I scared the Hispanic maids out of the bathroom. I lipchoke enough oxygen out of my body again and go to point out the poor woman I’ve wronged to Todd the Psychic Vegan. He begins walking over to her, while I wait silently and watch. I feel a hand on my shoulder, and figure it’s Henry checking on me. I turn around, and find myself face-to-face with the Gideon Graves of this catering company. The Organizer, The Awesome and Almighty Purveyor of Snacks and Such. I am absolutely about to lose my job. Our exchange goes just so:
Gideon: Todd the Psychic Vegan told me what happened.
Me: He did?
Gideon: Yes. I need to know, why are you so upset?
Gideon: The important thing is that you care, that’s all that matters. You care about your work.
Gideon: Is there something else wrong? Something you want to talk about?
Me: No–that’s just–just such a nice thing to say.
And so I cried for the first time at work, and I cried like a small, slow child. And it was humiliating, and awful, and I go into every job thinking that someone will recognize me as “that” girl and treat me like a rabid animal.
But even in light of that, it’s nothing, nothing compared to the ocular waterfall that’s going to flow in Summer 2012.