The passion of the cook (with apologies to Mel Gibson)
Where: Another greasy spoon in a rural upstate New York town I call Hooterville, population ~2,000.
~85% of the Hooterville population, when I lived there, were the most racist, homophobic people on the planet.
The Cook of this restaurant, a married white woman in her 40s, with three young children, was desperately in love with the Night Manager.
Night Manager was a white thirty year-old gay (not one iota “bi-curious”) man.
Night Manager didn’t know whether to shit or go blind.
But back to Cook’s passion.
She followed him all around town; if Night Manager went to pick up a loaf of bread, Cook would be in line right behind him.
Cook bought Night Manager flowers and delivered them to him at work, complete with mushy greeting cards.
Cook had Night Manager’s dinner ready, when he presented to work, five nights a week.
Night Manager really started to sweat when Cook started sending hate mail to his current boyfriend.
And then, one night, Cook’s husband walked in for a quick dinner before a Rotary meeting.
I was on duty, and I heard Night Manager ask Husband, “Can we talk?”
Husband never made it to his meeting.
Night Manager and Husband sat at a corner table for three hours, having a serious talk.
At nine o’clock, when we closed, Husband was still there.
As we walked out the front door, Husband announced he needed an alcoholic beverage.
Perhaps several alcoholic beverages.
I went home, glad to be single.
Husband and Night Manager went to The Buck Naked Bar and Grill and got wasted.
That wasn’t the actual name of the place, of course.
It was called The Buck Naked because the owner of this hot spot (P.J.) also ran a motel that was just to the right of the bar and grill.
When life got boring in Hooterville (and it frequently was a real snore), people drove by The Buck Naked to see who was cheatin’ tonight (Of course, in a town of 2,000, your car is just like an identification card).
Anyway, back to that night.
P.J. stopped serving booze to Night Manager and Husband at 11:00 p.m., ’cause they were falling off their bar stools, puking drunk.
P.J. told them both, “If either of you drive, I’m calling the state cops, ’cause I’m not getting sued by the families of people you two kill.”
P.J., always the small town business tycoon, rented Husband and Night Manager two motel rooms. Husband had to just about carry Night Manager to his room, tucked him into bed, then passed out next to him on the double bed of Room #2.
The next morning, The Buck Naked Grill was having the best breakfast crowd it’s ever seen, to this day.
Diners drank coffee, ate P.J.’s greasy eggs, and stared out the picture windows of the grill as Husband and Night Manager staggered out of room #2, together, and got into their cars.
P.J. had, of course, told his customers that “the boys” had tied one on and slept together.
In the same bed.
Husband went home, called his wife home from work, and begged her to make their marriage work.
Cook, enraged because her Husband slept with Night Manager (and she couldn’t), packed her bags and left for Parts Unknown that same morning.
As far as I know, Cook has not seen her children since that day.
Husband moved to Syracuse a few months later (To be closer to his family, and to escape the story that he was gay, I suspect). He married his High School Sweetheart two years later, and they’ve been married ever since. High School Sweetheart helped raise Husband’s kids (with Cook) with love and devotion.
Night Manager’s grandmother died six months later and left him a bundle of money, so he moved to Key West and opened up a first class restaurant.
Night Manager did travel to Syracuse to be Best Man at Husband’s wedding to High School Sweetheart.
In 1995, Husband and High School Sweetheart traveled to Key West, so Husband could be Night Manager’s Best Man (Night Manager married [well, it was a Commitment Ceremony] HIS High School Sweetheart Tom).
And, the last anybody knew, Cook was tending bar at a [men’s] gay bar in Greenwich Village.
NEXT: P.J.’s Heartbreak (Give me that old time religion)