New York was a great place to wait tables. The restaurant was called Fluties and it was located at South Street Seaport – near Wall Street. Lobster was the house speciality and every night, bankers, for the most part, would come in and spend spend spend on lobster, champagne and for desert – Mississippi mud pie. We had a language all of our own – 86’d meant something was out of stock, ’in the weeds’ meant that you were running behind and couldn’t keep up with your orders. The tips were good and afterwards I’d hop on the back of my friend Matthew’s bike and we’d cycle through the streets of Manhattan, stopping for a cocktail or two and a dance at Nells or Roxy or one of the other clubs we frequented. I’ve rarely felt that same sense of freedom since.
Last night, at one of west London’s flashiest restaurants, on a special occasion outing, I was taken right back to those days.
Our waiter was French and exuberant beyond one’s wildest dreams. His attention to detail was second to none. The plates (normal practice these days) were whipped away when barely the last morsel had gone from plate to fork to mouth. The table was ‘crumbed down’ vigorously with the delightful smell of disinfectant to erase all the mouth watering aromas of blackened cod and aubergine curry from ones memory. Napkins were whipped off knees and replaced with an almost aggressive flourish. Glasses replenished by the second.
‘Where are you from? ‘I asked as yet another dish skidded across the table in his wake, ‘Nice’ he replied with the same constant grin. ‘Where are you going now – after dinner?’ he asked. I looked at him as the memories flooded back. I imagined his life of partying after work, the camaraderie, the quest for adventure and inevitable fun that would ensue. I looked around me at the assembled group and suppressed the longing that I felt for that. ‘Home’ I replied as I wondered where and why that yearning and search for fun disappears.