I have come to the conclusion that everybody in the entire world should work in the service industry at some point in their lives. It's not much to ask, and I really think that it would serve the greater good. This would automatically offer any waiter/bartender/hotel worker/anyone else that has to try to remember that the customer is always right and not actually a raving lunatic a very easy comeback the next time some moron gets too big for their britches. Have a rude customer at a restaurant? Simply reply "I'm sorry, sir (or ma'am) but do you remember when you were a waiter? Do you remember what you did to the food of people who acted like you? Wonderful, would you like to take another pass at that last statement that you made then?"
If you can't tell from the opening of this blog, I think my time in the service industry is starting to come to a close. I'm not sure exactly what the straw that broke the camel's back was...or perhaps it was more of a parade of straws. The hotel guest who ordered three vibrators so his bevy of prostitutes could simultaneously pleasure themselves (seriously, dude, people are losing their jobs, and you just dropped almost $300 on fake penises that aren't even safe to use in the shower). My friend Lisa's customer at her restaurant who, rather than simply ordering a drink, mixed ketchup in with his water to make tomoto juice (seriously, dude, people might be losing their jobs, but a tomato juice costs $2. And that's really gross). The Irish woman who kept me on the phone for an hour wondering why the price quote she got from one of her friends wouldn't be honored by the hotel (seriously, you drunken nitwit, if you don't have the money to come to New York, don't come. Crawl back to your pub, throw some Guinness down your gullet, and pass out like you do every other night of the week).
Regardless of the reason, my temper grows shorter daily...and as we all know, it didn't exactly have a large cushion to burn through. This has forced me to consider other options. Should I try to get a desk job that will still give me the freedom I need to audition? Two problems: a) that job doesn't exist, and b) if I get a desk job, it better be on a low floor, because I would give myself about a week before I leapt through the window in an attempt to escape, or at least end the misery. I've thought about becoming a fitness instructor. I'd be good at that; I can put on my music, boss people around for an hour and get paid for it, besides the fact I look good in a tank top. Unfortunately, they want you to have things like certifications and CPR training to do that; I suppose this is because if someone collapses in class you're supposed to be able to take care of them. I'd rather do it like the trainers on The Biggest Loser: when someone collapses in class, I get in their face, scream that they're weak, and if they don't get up immediately they won't have time to eat themselves to death because I personally am going to rip their porcine arm off and beat them with it until they stop darkening my doorstep. This tactic, it seems, is generally frowned upon by the community at large.
Which leads me to my great idea. Some people have just one talent. I, of course, have been blessed with intelligence, a fantastic sense of humor, and let's just face it, the face of an angel and the ass of a Greek god. However, there is one other thing that I can do better than a lot of people, this is something that I can make money doing, and no, I am not referring to my fully conquered gag-reflex.
I can bake. I mean, I can really bake. I can make cookies that will change a life, cakes are a cakewalk, and pie is my bitch (except for lemon meringue...the entire family has some kind of genetic malfunction on this dessert. I don't want to talk about it). The time has come to use my mother-given talent to further my own economic ends; and since I can't get married in this state or this country, I think I shouldn't have to pay taxes on it. Now, since the feds disagree with me on this, and I'm way too pretty to go to jail, I need to find some way to keep it under wraps. Which leads me to the title of this post.
The Underground Pie Railroad.
I'm fully convinced that the UPR is my ticket out of financial dependence on tips, hotels and the service industry in general. First of all there is the engima factor. Everyone likes to be on the inside of a joke, or be the first to discover a new fad. There is a bar by the name of Milk and Honey which literally changes it's phone number regularly, and doesn't allow anyone in without reservations. Finding the number is a game, and people play it eagerly. The UPR is going to be a pie service of the most top secret level. In order to place orders, one must first find the contact information, which can be determined by solving an Amazing Race-esque scavenger hunt that will send interested pie-lovers throughout New York City. Once the clues are gathered, and the contact information found, hopeful customers can place their orders.
The second factor is exclusivity. All orders must be placed at least a month in advance, and the UPR Management team reserves the right to refuse orders at any time due to demand, acts of God, or a personal dislike of the client. This will not only encourage people to order early, it will also create an atmosphere of fierce competition among the client base, while at the same time being certain that they will treat all UPR employees with the utmost respect. The first time an Upper East Side maven hits her rival with a Manolo Blahnik, and sneaks her order into UPR headquarters, we have an immediate ticket onto Gossip Girl.
The episode almost writes itself: Serena tries to use her connections to help Dan get his hands on an exclusive apple pie, which he has promised his math tutor as payment for his sessions (remember, Dan's the poor one). Unfortunately, Blaire, who is feeling slighted by Dan because she has a completely delusional view of her own importance, sneaks into the UPR baking facility and drugs Dan's pie with a large dosage of quaaludes. In an homage to my dearly departed Pushing Daisies, Kristin Chenoweth guest stars and sings a cover of Fiona Apple's Criminal, while Blair drugs the pastry and makes her quick escape. Then she goes and stands very close to Chuck and they discuss how their love could never blossom; they both breathe heavily and she desperately tries to not tear off her headband, because she knows it's the only thing that makes her remotely believable as an 18-year old. Dan and Serena take the dessert to Dan's tutor, and she gratefully accepts it as payment, and invites them both in to sample "a piece of the greatest pie ever made." Serena senses a love connection between Dan and his tutor, and starts to angrily shovel her portion into her mouth, thinking how he would never have gotten his common peasant hands on the pie of the gods without her help. She gets about halfway through her slice before the 'ludes take hold, sending her and her weave plunging headfirst into the remainder of "the greatest pie ever made," to the horror and abject despair of Dan's tutor. Shocked, she believes Dan meant for her to pass out so he could have his way with her, and throws Dan and his apple-speckled ex out of her apartment. When Serena wakes up, she quickly realizes what happened as she remembers Blair smelling suspiciously of cinnamon and nutmeg the previous day, and quickly levers her friend into tutoring Dan so he doesn't fail his math class. Meanwhile, Jenny is annoying, Nate is inexplicably attracted to her and Vanessa makes coffee.
The third and final factor in the future success of my fledgling bakery is, of course, quality of product. No one is going to go on a city-wide scavenger hunt for a cookie that crumbles. No one is going to beat a neighbor with an over-priced piece of footwear for the kind of cake one can get at the diner down the street. And no one is going to base an entire episode of television around a pie that doesn't make one fall on one's knees in gratitude. Luckily, like any good young homo, I spent my formative years clinging to my mother with every fiber of my being, and while entangled in her apron strings, I learned quite a bit about making desserts that will make a grown man weep. I have complete faith in anything I bake being able to send throngs of dessert lovers over the moon and directly into orbit. And as The Underground Pie Railroad slowly takes hold, the service industry will finally, ultimately lose it's hold on me. Free at last, free at last, oh sweet God I'll be free at last.
Sigh. It'd be nice, wouldn't it?
**You'll notice that I've been fairly silent on the Proposition 8/Pastor Rick Warren fiasco (debacle? implosion? nah, I like fiasco), but this is not because of a lack of things to say. I say this rarely, but I think someone else said it better. Interested? Read this.**