For three or four summers now we have been working parties on Carmel Beach for a group of Texans.
Now….don’t just diss Texans reflexively……there might not be a Carmel or a Pebble Beach without Texans. OK, I know that might actually not be a bad thing…but shut up.
When we first moved to town more than 30 years ago my wife Jane worked reservations at Pebble Beach. Starting from Memorial Day, she had no worries at all….the place was full with long term reservations for folks from Texas. Mrs. Lehman would check in on Memorial Day into her suite, and check out on Labor Day. So would Mrs. Hunt, etc. And these ladies were the Grandes Dames….the grannies…and the younger folk followed suit.
If town was not full of Texans, everyone else was from Modesto, Fresno, Palm Springs….anywhere where summer is insufferable. Carmel and Pebble are famous for summer fog….so bring it on, baby. This is why people came. Well, and golf….
Our summer weather report used to be: “Late night and early morning coastal low cloud and fog….clearing by mid-day…..” This is why we have the most stupid and useless TV weather folk in America….there is nothing to report most of the time.
“Late night and early morning coastal low cloud and fog…clearing by mid day…..”
Tonight on the Beach at 13th I heard the CEO of a jet company tell his buddies: “I’ve been here for 39 days…..and I have only seen the sun three or four times….and I have had the best vacation of my life……Fuck that sun anyway!”
Pebble Beach fucked it all up decades ago by booting the old ladies and trying to sell Carmel and Pebble as fun in the sun….Occupancy has plunged from 98% in Jane’s era to “don’t ask”.
Yesterday on Carmel Beach I ran into the owner of one of the top three or four charging restaurants and bars on the Peninsula. If this guy goes down…we will all be drinking in the parking lot of Safeway and sharing Cheetos…..
We talked for a bit….until he had to leave because my Grandpuppy was trying to madly hump his Golden…..
Meanwhile he let slip that he heard from a Board Member of Pebble that they are actually talking about closing down Spanish Bay due to total lack of business.
Whatever….we are neck deep in Texans who are renting houses in Carmel for $5k a week for a month and are perfectly happy to pay a hundred bucks a head and more to hang on Carmel Beach.
The sad part of that story is that our COSTS are terribly close to a hundred bucks a head…but who cares? Volume cures all….they told me in Hotel School.
Anyway…..I am not writing about Texans or the economy…but about rough justice.
My Texans are actually really sweet, kind, trusting people. Somewhere along the line they met an insane person from the cooking school on Cannery Row who does breakfasts and lunches, and small dinners…and hors d’oeuvres for them before they walk down to the Beach to have our food.
This person….and by the way, my choice of the word “insane” comes from a long, deep and special relationship with the DSM (I-IV) (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders….Volume IV)……but nevertheless, this is an informal and adhoc diagnosis….
This crazy person who masquerades as a chef has been haunting us for four years now. Let us call her “Phyllis”…
“Phyllis” does appetizers at the Texans' house before they troop down to the Beach to us. What is weird is that “Phyllis” follows the clients down to the Beach….and dines with them.
She used to wear her chef’s coat….Monterey Culinary Academy……or “Cannery Row Cooks” as most of us know them.
“Phyllis” would parade down with the clients like a diva….and demand instant service. She would actually snap her fingers at me for more white wine. One notable night (and we have done at least a dozen Beach parties for our Texans…complete with “Phyllis”)…..she arrived late. We had already stripped down our hors d’oeuvre scene and were trying to flog out dinner. “Phyllis” demanded one of each of our hors d’oeuvres….so she could “appreciate our style”. Little finger drops…..
Another time…during the fires last year when we were taking care of our Beach Texans AND driving down to Big Sur to feed actual firefighters…..”Phyllis” again arrived late, and again seemed…..overstimulated, perhaps…..”Phyllis” was so late that we had not just broken down our appetizers, but broken down the buffet and all the food but some strawberries.
“Phyllis” snapped her fingers at me, and demanded a plate of food: “I am a guest! You need to bring me my dinner!”
Meanwhile….it turns out that “Phyllis” was crashing all these parties. She was imposing on the great good nature of the sweet Texans that had hired both of us. Because the Texans didn’t know she was coming….we didn’t know…and there was never a plate, napkin, silverware, or even a fucking chair for this “person”.
Not to worry…..”Phyllis” would always go through the buffet line first….and sit down first. Since she was the wild card…this always meant that one of the real guests would wind up sitting on a milk carton, eating off a serving platter with whatever forks and knives we found in the bottom of our tool box.
Tonight was the Ultimate.
“Phyllis” arrived late….we were waiting for the hostess to fly back from Austin from the deathbed of her best friend’s husband…so we had waited dinner for a good forty minutes. “Phyllis” demanded one of each of our apps….When she tried one of our fresh Monterey sardine bocadillos she staggered and collapsed in the sand and shrieked that we had poisoned her by giving her an “anchovy”.
We helped her up and returned her to the party. We stopped serving her wine at this point.
My sweet Texans continued to talk to her, and involve her in their party…..
We noticed that we now had 15 people on the Beach….and only 14 chairs…..Our hostess had only ordered food for 12. One of the guests….these guys are Captains of Industry and definitely not stupid….had counted the chairs at the tables when he arrived (12) and was ribbing me when he realized that I had brought more chairs than the hostess ordered, just in case.
It was clear that the hostess had forgotten to tell me that Captain of Industry was coming.
Whatever. Her friend’s husband had died…..Twelve turns to fourteen, who cares?
We called Dinner……
First in line…..”Phyllis” the party crasher caterer. She takes her plate and sits down. My Captain of Industry guy gives me a look…..He and I both know that there are now not enough chairs, plates, napkins and silverware for the actual guests. We both laugh and shrug, silently. He ain’t paying….I ain’t paying….Whatever.
“Phyllis” is clearly now completely wasted. Not from us….she pre-gamed. And, as an expert….I am thinking her buzz is not just fermented. She babbles, staggers, crosses her legs at the table in the sand and nearly falls over backwards.
My sweet, kind Texans take one look….and opt to share plates….and stand and eat at the bar, rather than sit at the same table with the insane caterer. Meanwhile, one Captain of Industry at the other table is still sitting on a milk crate, because “Phyllis” has captured the other table and chairs….
We just go on doing our jobs…trying to take care of our folks…
“Phyllis” eventually gets up and staggers to the bar…..We give her Death Looks…as always….and ignore her. She sways over the bar for a while....and staggers off up the Beach. I warn all my workers to be ready for projectile vomiting. We all defer the possibility of actually drowning this dumb bitch disgrace to everyone who ever put food on a plate for the last 10,000 years…but not by much.
We go back to taking care of our folks……
We then hear a lot of crazy noise coming from the bluff above 13th.
“Phyllis”…drunk as a sailor, plus whatever else….has missed the gentle turn on Scenic and driven up onto a rock on the sidewalk. It is night, so she has not killed anyone….or worse, any dogs. She is so out of it that she does not run….she continues to rev her engine and try to spin her tires into some kind of heat vortex that would beam her out of her situation. She is five meters from driving down onto our party full of her own clients.
There is a tradition of military heroism, just short of falling on a grenade to save your buddies. It is calling in an airstrike on your own position. Think “Platoon”. On rare occasions we call in a Carmel Police airstrike on our 13th Beach position.
Long story short: cops come, haul away “Phyllis”. DUI arrests take awhile….lots of lights, drama…..the whole towing her car off the rocks thing….
My sweet Texans discover all this as they are walking back to their $5k a week rental house.
“Omigod! It’s “Phyllis”! How terrible. How can we help? This is awful!”
“What are we going to do about brunch tomorrow?”
Sorry….I love Texans…
And....."Revenge is a meal that is best eaten cold......and with the hands."
Or the cell phone.