It’s the day after Thanksgiving – Black Friday. The bistro is crazy busy.

Almost every chair has an ass warming it. The few tables we have left are reserved for reservations. Countless walk-ins, holiday shoppers laden with packages, are being turned away. My waiters desperately try to turn over their tables. The scent of money, like blood in the water, elicits their predatory waiter instincts.

The owner is home with his family. I’m playing waiter, manager, and maitre d’. Saying I’m stressed is putting it mildly.

The door chimes. I go over to the door. Oh no. It’s Artsy Lady.

Mid forties with a manic depressive makeup job, bedecked in swirling over the top scarves and jewelry, she smiles broadly, asking for a table for two. She’s an affectatious twit.

“Do you have a reservation?” I ask politely.

A look of concern creases her brow. “No. Do I need one?”

“Well as you can see we’re pretty busy.” I reply.

Twirling her right hand into the air like some sort of dispossessed royalty she exclaims,

“Well the owner and I are old friends – I’m sure you will figure something out.”

I hate this woman. Let me tell you why………

A few months ago Artsy comes in alone and orders a bottle of wine. She asks for two glasses saying a “friend” will be joining her. I perform the bottle opening ceremony and pour two glasses. She thanks me and I go attend to my other tables.

A few minutes later Fluvio, the owner, pulls me aside.

“Why the fuck are you serving an underage girl?”

“Huh? What are you talking about?” I reply befuddled.

“Table Three – that girl is only eighteen!” Fluvio steams. He’s pissed.

I look over at Table Three. It’s Arsty’s table. Her “friend” is her teenage daughter.

In the State of New York the drinking age is twenty-one. No exceptions.

Sometimes parents ask me to serve their underage children. It’s a special occasion; they let their kids drink at home, blah blah blah. Sorry. No can do. I explain the law. If they protest I ask if the tip will cover my rent. That usually shuts them up.

Artsy Lady has pulled one over on me. She knows the law. She doesn’t care. She wants what she wants when she wants it.

If the Alcohol Control Board walks in Fluvio gets a big fine. His liquor license gets suspended. He would have to fire me. I would be well and truly fucked.

The damage already done Fluvio and I decide to do nothing.

“Get them out fast.” he orders.

That proves easier said than done. Artsy and her kid order one inexpensive bowl of pasta and take two hours to eat it.

Talking incessantly they slowly imbibe their wine. I have visions of the police raiding the place, dragging me away in chains.

Artsy’s daughter puts her head in her mother’s lap. The mother gently strokes her hair. They talk and laugh softly.

Now that’s just fucking weird.

Finally they pay and leave. Time elapsed? Three hours. The tip is under 15%.

Artsy Lady couldn’t give two shits about my situation. She just wanted to have her little enmeshed liquored up bonding time with her seriously age regressed daughter no matter what the possible consequences. I’m sure she never gave it a second thought.

I, however, never forget……..

“Well do you have a table?” Artsy says – snapping me back to the present moment.

“I’m sorry Madam but the only table I have left is by the door.”

It’s the worst table in the house. Whenever the door opens the breeze blows in – and baby its cold outside.

“I don’t want to sit there.” she puffs haughtily.

“I have nothing else I’m so sorry.”

“What about those tables in the window?” her husband chimes in.

They have Reserved signs on them. If these were people I liked I would have shuffled the seating around. But they aren’t so I won’t.

“I’m sorry but they have been spoken for.”

“You mean to tell me that people call ahead and ask for those tables specifically?” the man sputters.

“Yes sir they do indeed.” I counter.

“Get Fluvio I want to talk to him.” Artsy Lady asks pointedly

“He’s at home tonight.”

Artsy and I lock eyes. “Yeah I remember you and I don’t give a flying fuck what you want.” I telepath to her.

“We’re leaving.” she threatens.

“Have a nice evening.”

“What’s your name? I’m telling Fluvio about this.” the husband rages.

I spell it for him.

As they storm out into the frigid night air I hear Artsy say, “Where are we going to find a quality place to eat now?”

I hope you like Burger King bitch.

Payback is so sweet.

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