07 September 2004


Although working as a freelance editor is going better than I ever imagined it would, I could still use a few extra dollars, and so I accepted the offer when an old cooking chum of mine offered me a few wedding catering jobs this month and the next.

It's just Saturdays, it's good money, and there's certainly no obligation to continue after the season ends if I don't want to. Which, after one Saturday, I can assure you I do not.

It started when I buttoned up my crisp white chef jacket again for the first time, and realized that this was somehow wrong... that was the first blossom on my rose bush of unease. Then my unease escalated into thorns of discomfort, as I realized we would be out in the blazing late-summer heat all day, and washing dishes amongst the bugs for most of the night. Then, after humping around untold numbers of glass racks and infinite milk crates of porcelain plates, my lower back started to scream ugly profanities at me.

I was right last spring. I'm really So Done with the cooking thing. It's a little sad, because I did enjoy it quite a lot for quite a while, but I'm just done.

I was chit chatting with the sous chef as we waited for the wedding party to arrive. He's a nice sort, kind of looks like someone I dated long ago, and his eyes lit up when I asked him if he had a garden. Not that I'm all into gardening, really, but it's always nice to see that light in people's eyes when you hit on the Thing That Makes Them Go. He described his tomato plants with such loving care, you would think they were his own creation, that he had originally come up with the idea of Tomato, and was eager to share it with the rest of the world.

It also turned out he had spent time in Syracuse about ten years before I arrived there, so we exchanged notes on that funny, cloudy, endearingly dirty burg. Then he let slip that he regularly works at three different restaurants, in addition to running the catering for this joint. He mostly works triples every day, all week, with maybe a half day off every other week. Which he spends lovingly, carefully, tenderly weeding his tomato patch.

See, that's why I'm just not a pro cook anymore. I'm just not hardcore like that anymore. I love sleeping in. I love my air conditioning. I enjoy being able to sit down if my back hurts. I especially enjoy simply avoiding activities which might cause my back to hurt.

In short, I'm a sallow-faced, lilly-livered, cringing, mincing, whinging little bookworm. And they pay me for it.

It's good to play to your strengths.

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