Saturday, May 1, 2010

the Brazilian Bartender

On Thursday night one of the local musicians pops in to ask if his group can play at ours one night in May or June. He plays the accordion, there is a drummer and then the singer on the guitar. Latin, reggae and ska mostly. Sounds good to me and a bit more laid back than our usual fare at the minute. But he wants to discuss the matter with mio marito. In fact he hesitates before even telling me what he has come in for – when to me it is perfectly obvious that he wants to ask us for a night. My husband is busy in the kitchen giving a hand to the cook – his mother at the moment! – because there are three tables all needing antipasti and second courses. So there’s no way I am going to disturb him when I can deal with the musician perfectly well. But the muso thinks I’m only good for giving him a drink. The hand shoots up to the mouth in a drinking gesture and he asks for a shot of rum. I remember the last –and only time – he came for a drink I gave him a very generous glass of rum by mistake, so that when mio marito gave him a second one he complained and ended up paying peanuts for the doubly generous dose. So I make no mistakes this time and get the tiny shot glass out.

I have to coax it out of him: ‘So are you wanting to play a night here then?’ He says yes, but he’ll wait to discuss it with mio marito. I let him wait and get back to chatting to my friend at the bar, a non-Italian who is watching this pantomime with amusement. Mio marito comes forth bearing three plates, greets the muso and whizzes on about his business not giving him as much as a second to get talking to him. SO I try again, ‘Look, tell me about your group, I’ll discuss it with mio marito and you can call us during the week for a date.’ I don’t have the music agenda as my husband books the groups, but at this stage all this muso needs is a date, which can be agreed over the phone. I know he probably wants to discuss the fee, and I know very well he won’t want to discuss it with me. So I don’t bother mentioning it. He still prevaricates, saying he can wait another two minutes. But in the end he has to go as there is no sign of my husband having a secondo for him. He asks for his number – which is on our business card, along with the restaurant number, as I point out, knowing well that my husband lost his mobile the day before. But I don’t tell him that either.

Well, what should I expect at this stage? Another couple who were dining that night put me in my place too: the guy declared loudly - 'So you're Irish! I was convinced you were Brazilian.' He beams drunkenly. Now how come, I ask, genuinely curious. I thought that myth was over. Is it the striking white Gaelic skin, or the blue eyes that convinced you? But his brain is addled with drink and he can't come up with a reason, much to my disappointment. His companion lingers a while chatting to me; she's on an extended holiday here in her home town because in Rome she hasn't been able to find work in her chosen field, art curation. We saw quite a lot of this girl over the summer as she hung around with the beach crowd who frequented Pachamama. 'So what would you like to have done with your life, if you didn't have this?' she asks, gesturing around the restaurant. Yep, that's me in the corner, the Brazilian Bartender, not a single title nor diploma to my name.

Last night was packed out with revellers who will be enjoying Labour Day today. But our temporary aiuto cuoco, who has been doing a great job, tells us he has been called to work in the refinery, which is better for his CV; and our temporary waiter, who was going to get us through May until he went over to Stromboli island to do the season there, also tells us that he can’t work from Monday on. Such a shame as both were excellent and fitted in with the whole team really well. So hard to find people like that. so we are back down to no cook – with my mother-in-law doing it single-handedly, and two waiters. Our Friday and Saturday nights are so busy now, especially since we have opened the two outside terraces, that we really need three. Our German-Sicilian cook has promised to be here on May 15th – but who believes him? And in the meantime there are no other contenders …

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