I dug up an old journal that I started back in 1996 when I was working at the snooty country club. The club was a place where people who made a fortune off of tobacco and other related things came to play golf, hit on each other's wives, and generally feel superior. I had been there for about three years, and I don’t know what prompted me to start a journal, all I know is that it didn’t last long—probably only two months or so. Some of it is funny and a great deal of it is poorly written. (I didn’t have a computer back in those days, can you imagine?) Some of it is sad because I write about Margaret during a time when we, at least as far as our relationship went, were very happy. (We split up three months ago.) But it’s not all that sad because it was during the time when the great Dan Eades showed up and married my sister Lindsay. I’m going to recreate some of the scribbling here, taking editorial license with some of the grammar and spelling. (I just misspelled grammar and license; I wonder if I’ll come back to this in eleven years and criticize the style of this post.)
This is the first thing I wrote:
“This is the first entry into what is going to be a day by day account of IMM’s entire life from this day on. A bold declaration but one made in complete earnest. I am going to record every event of significance that has happened to me, good, bad, revealing or otherwise. Also I’m going to record thoughts, opinions (lots of opinions) observances, wishes, dreams, and other matters of the mind so that this may be a highbrow, detailed account of the times we live in.
Everyday. Not just when I feel like it, not when it is convenient, but every single day for the rest of my life until I am struck with arthritis or chop my fingers off (I’m a chef)."
Quite a mission statement, but I have to believe that I wrote it with my tongue planted firmly in my cheek. I was declaring all of this with the full knowledge that I would probably loose interest as I had with journals in the past. I ended the first entry with this:
“Good, now that that’s been declared I’m off to high-minded adventures…i.e. oil change and car inspection.”
I think this entry sums up a day at the club pretty well:
“I made a beautiful Christmas tree out of fruit skewers, curly endive and star fruit. After some skeptical comments from Mr. Hartsock (the general manager of the club) during its creation, I plugged on and things really looked damn good. But, it was delicate. It was built around a Styrofoam cone connected to a small round base with six inch skewers. It was top heavy.
We got it over to Secca (Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art where we were doing a catering) with me holding on to it in the back of the van. We had a flight of stairs to go up. Gingerly, Marvin (a chef) and I mounted the steps carrying the tree with Mr. Hartsock behind us watching. On the last step the base broke and suddenly the tree looked like a shrub. Gerald, the assistant assistant-manager started making tactless jokes which helped nothing. This made Marvin mad. He spent the rest of the evening picking a fight with Gerald—rightly so—while I tried to rebuild the tree. I did a good job. Sunny ( a kitchen peon) couldn’t tell it had been damaged. Showed my temper a little.”
Some of the entries are short:
“I was almost asleep when I remembered that I hadn’t written in the journal. Now I’ve written in it. Good night.”
Some entries include updates on the baseball team I follow, the Atlanta Braves:
“The Braves lost last night. Actually they didn’t really lose necessarily; they really GOT THE SHIT BEAT OUT OF THEM. They aren’t playing tonight. In retrospect they weren’t playing last night either.”
Here is a piece about trying to see the clock.
“I can never see the clock when I wake up in the night. Usually I wake up and there is a pillow on the other side of Margaret blocking the view. This means that I have to reach over Margaret and throw the pillow on the floor or at the kitty or something. Last night a skirt was draped over the clock and I bumped Marg pretty hard trying to get the thing off. Then the skirt and the clock fell on the floor and Margaret was yelling (sleepy yelling granted) and I was grumbling and it was a right unsightly situation. So, after that, the little kitty started f**cking with the big kitty and Yowee I was getting hot. But I pulled it together and snoozed for the rest of the half-hour until I had to get up.”
Here is something about retrieving a 300 pound block of ice.
“Had to take Sunny out to get the ice for the ice-carving we’re doing for a catering. First went to the wrong place, Forsyth Country Club. Then got lost going to Graylyn Conference Center where the ice actually was. The hand truck was broken and the wheel would fall off at any given moment. I didn’t know this until the 300 lb. block of ice was lying cracked on the loading dock. It was still usable though. Sunny was grumbling and being a damn pain in the ass about it all. Ice carving came out fine.”
These posts make it seem like I was part of a Three Stooges catering operation. I remember that Sunny might have had good reason to grumble seeing as the ice landed on his foot.
What was I reading at this time?
A tell-all book about the NFL
Marlon Brando’s autobiography
A biography of Ty Cobb
Jackie Chan’s “Rumble in the Bronx.”
More about work:
“Work was weird. Debra, the new dining room supervisor, is feuding with the Angela/Collette coalition. Angela/Collette has kept a stronghold on service now for three years, being bitchy, acting unmotivated, moaning, groaning, writing shitty tickets and passing the buck to the kitchen. Debra seems to know what she’s doing. So when I walk in, Angela’s threatening to kick everyone’s ass and she had to be escorted out by Arthur.
Gabriel dropped a can of slivered almonds on Marvin’s hand giving him a pretty nasty gash. This pissed off an already agitated Marvin. He blew Gabriel out and Gabe went skulking upstairs to mend his wounded pride.”
Yea it was a strange place to work, but know that it got better as the years went on.
Lindsay, my sister, let me in on the state-secret that she and her boyfriend were getting married. I was honored that she told me first. Our family doesn’t keep secrets very well, but I’ve been told that I’m pretty good at it because I forget what people tell me so easily.
“Lindsay bummed a cigarette off me and right after lighting it she casually states; “Well it looks like Dan and I are getting married.” She said it so casually that I couldn’t really react at first. It was kind of confusing, but Happy! So I tried to get some details (not easy with Lindsay) while the stupid restaurant chose to blast crappy generic alternative music in our ears.”
On politics, right after the 96 election:
“Bill Clinton is still president and Jesse Helms is still redneck senator supreme.”
This was a series of short entries I did at the end of the journal
“Burnt hand, can’t write.”
“Burnt hand, still can’t write.”
“Damn thing won’t heal.”
“Should have more tomorrow.”
Then, about six weeks later:
“That burn on my hand turned out to be more trouble than I expected. It became infected almost overnight, then gangrenous until (before I even had time to notice the pain and swelling) my hand suddenly fell off. It was really a shock. So you see there was a reason for the gap between entries.”
That was the last entry. It’s funny though, I don’t ever remember having my hand fall off. It must have been very traumatic.