Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Elevator Nightmare.....

Today I was interviewing a bride at The Store after brunch. All was going swimmingly until she mentioned her baker.......a famous local outfit. The baker......let's call them ''Layers''.....are owned by an old-school local Italian family one would be hesitant to call out in public.


We have been serving their cakes for years now, and they suck. Not always, but 85% of the time. We are almost to the point of refusing to do the the wedding if ''Layers'' is the baker. Gilda and I don't want to be stuck standing there with a pile of shitty dry crumbs, stuck together with chocolate glue funk, wrapped in oozy fondant like corpse skin.

Or worse......the shitty dry crumb stuff is still frozen in the middle from where the minimum wage illegal immigrants and high school kids (and illegal immigrant high school kids!) put it when they made it last month in anticipation of the busy season. My baseline worker is a 25 year old soccer player......if these guys and girls won't eat the cake in the middle of a 14 hour concerned. Talk about the canary in the coal mine......

(There are good bakers...... Two of them. Hire me and I will tell you who they are......)

Many, many people don't realize that the caterer doesn't bake the cake......(including one of my all time favorite brides, Debra.....well, she does now!). Being stuck serving a shitty cake is like being in the dream everyone has of being naked at high school......

I was trying to express this embarrassing frustration to the bride and the mom-of-the-bride without losing the whole wedding.

Then, I suddenly remembered.......The Horror! An event so scarring it doomed me to geekdom for years....maybe still. Sherman! Set the Wayback Machine for 1965!!!

I worked on Wall Street when I was in high school and college, at Smith Barney at 20 Broad Street. This is the same address as the New York Stock Exchange, but we were upstairs on the 9th through the 13th floors (though it was called the 14th floor). My dad was a banker in New Jersey, and he hired the kid of the guy that hired me as a professional courtesy. I don't know who got the worse end of the deal.....the other kid left a satchel full of bearer bonds on the PATH Tube, and I was dumb as a newborn newt. I was such a rube that I was still a practicing Catholic......

(Come to think of it.....maybe that guy didn't LOSE the bearer bonds! Wow! He might own a country by now.......It never occurred to me until now. See, I am still a rube. And I can still say the Mass in Latin....)

Anyway, I worked at Smith Barney I worked the news desk/tube station on the 14th floor. We read the Dow Jones, typed up newsletters every hour, printed them on an offset machine and shot them all around the building by way of a pneumatic tube system. Twice a day we did a special review report and hand carried them around to all the departments.

This meant we got to go down to the International Department on the 12th floor. Their secretarial staff was from Eileen Ford's modeling agency......literally. The Big Dude's personal assistant was a stunning beauty with a gap between her teeth......Every time I got within Arpege range of her the special reports would stick to my sweaty palms and new zits would break out all over my Irishy face . Wow. And the other girls were of the same ilk. Creatures from another planet.....

Because we worked under such pressure, we were allowed free lunch at the company cafeteria on the 9th floor. Multiple plates of food, multiple tiny bottles of real Welch's grape juice, lotsa cheesecake. A 16 year-old's dream.

One day as I got in the elevator after lunch I was joined by a messenger. The guy was short, fat and wide. He was chewing on a horrible wet cigar, and was carrying a messenger bag that looked like it was made from whale bladders. Old whale bladders. The cigar reeked, and the juices from it dripped down his chin onto his tie and the elevator floor. His suit was ancient, shiny with grease, and sprinkled all about with cigar ash and dandruff dendrites. Yeesh.

I pushed the button for 14. He pushed the button for 11.

The elevator rose. It stopped at 11. The doors opened.

Just as the guy stepped towards the door, he released a massive, wet, flapping fart.

I was stunned by the fart's volume, decibel level, and .......the ordure. The doors closed. I gagged.

The elevator stopped at 12. The doors opened.

Standing there was Lauren Hutton and three of her friends....Going up to visit the Bond Guys on 13.

There I was: alone in the elevator with the cigar reek and the fart. And Lauren Hutton.

In the ensuing minute I came to understand Death as a possible Friend......

Not to mention the weeks afterward when I would go around with my specials, and the International girls would all push back from their desks as I approached......

Come to think of it......if ''Layers'' does the cake......

We'll pass.


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