... But in the very nature of the business there was always something that, usually around the end of dinner service, put you over the edge, into the craving of the nervous system and the need for a quick fix of calories, and so you reached for the Beaujolais, and along came all the consequences of physiology.
The server, who would leave earlier than I anyway, was nowhere to be seen when the large party in the wine bar, who were switching seats left and right, as is their culture, wished to order to dessert and coffee. So I took the order. In my meantime my veal cheeks had come up, as I waited on the entrees for the last dinner order, a famous wine importer from Palm Beach with his young lady friend. There was wine that the large party hadn't finished, and I wanted them to take the remains. The two guys with the bottle of Ventoux at eight past ten, kitchen closing, want a charcuterie. I order, politely, hoping the kitchen will not be angry with me, and then, I'm tweaked. I slump in the corner over a cold merguez sausage...
The guy in the corner knows me as a friend, another couple comes in wanting wine, and I am in for it again. He's a good loyal customer, on a date, she's nice, they like wine, I pour them a few sips of this and that, since they've finished the bottle of pinot noir. I beg off joining them for a good long time, but, but... The couple at the bar--they are entertaining actually, nice and respectful as well--pay their tab, appreciatively and depart down the stairs and into the night, and things at the bar have been put back in some order, so, yeah, I go over and sit with the couple for a while. She does elderly care. I let the guy pour me a bit of the organic Languedoc wine Stefan Defot brought us; it's higher in alcohol content, 13%, which for me is a big knock about 12%, but, I have to admit, it goes down easy, and then I go back, let them finish up, and I continue my clean-up.
I eat, the veal cheeks, devouring them, over the vegetable du jour, though the pasta would have filled me up better, but leaving I'm still starving, so then up the street for a gyro to take home, and I wolf that down, the bread and the fries I try to avoid once back safe.
But the cycle has been initiated. I wake up with heart racing, the sweats again, my central nervous system in need of the sugar water I've soothed it with. I need a good deal more rest, and then it will be off to work for Sunday night.
Which I make it through, even though the late arrivals, after four straight busy hours of dinner service and a full bar, people to entertain, familiar regulars, just when the bar clears out, the late arrivals are enough to make me nervous, partly for who, out of experience, might join them to cavalier the hard working barman's away from his exhausted attempts to restore order at his bar. Again, I'm slumped over in the corner, after a tomato juice, eating a merguez sausage like a hotdog over Ezekial bread, having bonked already. And when you bonk, you bonk, and there's no turning back.
The next day, around noon, I walk slowly back home from my therapist softly saying Our Father Who art in Heaven to myself. "Depart from me, oh Lord, for I am a sinful man," Peter tells the Lord coming to his fishing boat. In French, the words for fisherman and sinner are close, on the verge of sounding alike to the student. And I wonder, as we all know, from our inner Augustines, the sins are many, many, legion like the miraculous draft of fish somehow related to them. And the forgiving of our sins is maybe the only way around them, to admit one's own deep weakness, the physiological craving. Health can be restored only through faith, the best way to treat such things as the bartender's weakness, his stumble and fall at the end of night charged with a lot of running around.