drown.

WordBowl Word-of-the-Day from my longtime coast-to-coast co-conspirator, the social activist and culinary entrepreneur (and mom!), Erika K

Day forty-seven, barreling toward his two-month medal, the most he has done is four, four months working straight-through. No need for a repeat performance  — hospital stint, strapped to heart monitor — but, shit, they’ve just reopened after a remodel, owner and money men tight with cash, he’s got a staff of newbies, undocumenteds, relying on him to steer the ship.

GUATEMALANSQUARE at the east village bitters emporium, Amor y Amargo

GUATEMALANSQUARE at the east village bitters emporium, Amor y Amargo

Just a neighborhood place, good drinks, honest food — unlike the complicated shit he cooked in the hushed temples of gastronomy — all would be fine if the hostess hadn’t quit today. He’s been pressed to put his sole suit into service, double duty, front of house not his domain, he prefers the sweat and swear of the kitchen.

His idea — or maybe his owner’s — to add “General Manager” to “Executive Chef”. An after-hours brainstorm, his owner swilling rye, shouting for penne a la carbonnara, which he dutifully whipped up before pouring himself into bed upstairs, the studio apartment “loaned” to him by his owner.

Only to be called the just after the crack of dawn for the day’s deliveries. Good morning, GM.

Killing it tonight, triple table rotation, bar four and five deep, regulars buying rounds for each other, him, proximal strangers.

He accepts a shot of Jack. Owner joins —sketchy money men not in sight —possibilities swell and crest. The gang rush in anticipation of last call, stacked drinks, traded digits.

Dwindles, the night, the crowd. His cooks shuffle off to wives, outer boroughs. Another round for he and his owner. Bartender counts out. Swing by a friend’s bar, decamp for a throbbing dance club managed by a former colleague, nightcap back at their place.

bespoke cocktail deliciousness at DBGB

bespoke cocktail deliciousness at DBGB

Owner’s vitriol over his soon-to-be-ex-wife’s latest salvo weakening to momentary melancholy. Another slug of top shelf bourbon — the serious stuff — owner on the phone, sniffing, arranging to meet his girl du nuit. Another shot, another decline of powder  — he needs to unwind, not rewind — his owner off again, a trail of useless menu ideas in his wake.

Home. At last. He sits on his sole chair — a restaurant renovation castoff — sips a desultory Jack in the first hesitant morning light, before the day’s confidence dawns.

Finds an innocuous flick, settles in with a leftover spleef, mentally runs through tomorrow’s specials, food cost-to-customer price ratios, back invoicing, private party scheduling. Waits for sleep. Roots around for the half-bottle of wine abandoned by a couple of amorous diners earlier in the week. Starts another movie. Smokes his next-to-last cigarette. Counts the hours until he anticipates the first delivery call, more subtraction than sum.

Longs for the riptide of sheer exhaustion. Calculates the week’s grosses. Smokes the last cigarette down to filter. Scrabbles for another bottle, emergency smoke stash. Looks at his missed messages, a couple of friends, his mother. Missives from an alternate universe.

He’ll take Monday off. Shit. Inventory. The next Monday, then.

The day arrives in full force. He stumbles to the futon mattress, stubs his toe, plunges into the scratchy sheets bought cheap. Just short snooze. A nap.

Pause. Repeat.

 “drown” handwritten at

Amor y Amargo (Yes, second week in a row. Forgive me. They have Cocktail Kingdom Wormwood Bitters, which makes for  one heck of a flavorific Negroni) east village, nyc  & DBGB on the bowery, nyc

airbook, wee notebook from the australian outback (gifted by Madam Editrix), americano at elsewhere cafe

airbook, wee notebook from the australian outback (gifted by Madam Editrix), americano at elsewhere cafe

post fueled by and uploaded at Elsewhere Cafe, east village, nyc

Do you have a WordBowl word? Use the form below. I look forward to your wordspiration! 

paradox.

WordBowl Word-of-the-Day from Laura Owens, who writes words for empowered living at http://Laura-owens.com

The first word submitted by someone with whom I am not personally acquainted.

 

“All Men are created equal”

—   Declaration of Independence, United States of America, 1776

“All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others”

—   George Orwell, Animal Farm, England, 1945

“Equal Opportunity Employer”

—   Civil Rights Act, United States of America, 1964

Language, vernacular, defining roles, shaping expectations: Women “succeed”. Men “win”.

paradox

Kickin’ it Old School with a “Santiago’s Perfect Margarita” at El Quijote

Professional clichés: Old Boy Network. Men’s Club. Prick.

“Bitch” muttered with murderous breath, or flung with defiant pride  — unlike “cunt”, which requires a dramatic lowering of the voice, the “t” a whisper — heard over and over, “My boss is a bitch.” “The bitch threw me under the bus.”  “Could she possibly be more of a bitch?”

As professional women, body is not the only language to which we are highly attuned.

For us, our tribe, the in-between generation, coming of age after the first flowerings of female choices but before working women morphed into economic necessity, we assumed opportunity, our Equal Opportunity. Unlike our mothers who toiled in traditional jobs — teacher, secretary, bookkeeper, nurse — we embarked on careers.

We worked hard, or smart, or both. We assumed — because our girlfriends were all within the same payscale — we had salary parity with our corporate peers, promotion potential parity, partner track parity. Faulty baseline assumptions produce imperfect theorems.

We rose through the ranks, accepted incremental raises, pushed for bonuses, asked for assistants. We agreed to share — office, staff, credit — we worked longer hours than those who worked for us. We reveled in our very vital-ness to the success of our organizations, as our bosses tapped us to represent the company at a client-hosted weekend boondoggle, the emergency out-of-town meeting, or lead the overnight presentation crunch. These mandates from on high, surely nothing to do with our not having families, no clamoring children to attend to, we who were not yet mothers, with little to nurture other than our professional aspirations.

We leapt to other companies, opportunities for career advancement. Downplayed our reproductive abilities — we dare not think of them as biological advantages —in interviews, as we crossed the threshold from late twenties to early thirties, and early thirties to late, we danced around the unasked biological clock questions, our ticking time bombs, we walking, working, Moltov cocktails.

GRANDYMAN at Amor y Amargo (savory, 3-booze cocktail soused with Creole Bitters)

GRANDYMAN at Amor y Amargo (savory, 3-booze cocktail soused with Creole Bitters)

Our male peers had babies, back at work the following day, shell-shocked or beaming, passing cigars.

We soldiered on through the corporate kerfuffles, mergers, reorgs, acquisitions by overseas conglomerates. We made lateral moves in the wake of the 2001 dotcom bust, the 2008 economic collapse. When we grasped our first rung of the corporate ladder, we assumed an upward climb, steady ascent. None of our childhood books depicted ladders laid horizontal.

We tell our young female staff that everything is possible, and they believe us, because they have spent their young lives medaled and certificated for participation.

We assure them of their assumptions, even as we bemoan their requests, twelve weeks into their first job, to discuss their opportunities for advancement. We are flattered by their view of us as the success to which they aspire.

We assure them, even as we begin to examine our own assumptions, experience breeding observations too uncomfortable to quash.

We, who are the embodiment of The American Dream.

Posts assisted by the good folks at:

El Quijote, chelsea, nyc

Amaro y Amargo, east village, nyc