Performed at “Exits & Entrances,” on December 9, 2019.
She was in a bind. Literally. Butcher’s twine to be exact. The string had been knotted and wound around her wrists by an expert. It wouldn’t budge. Damn. It criss-crossed into her plump flesh – she must stop pigging out. Ah her delightful dalliances with divine doughnuts, desserts and deep-fried delicacies…
Sitting on the floor, her pleasant reverie was interrupted. He was back. What an avalanche of a tirade, mostly indecipherable in its rushing gush of French. She’d had too much wine, her head throbbed… Little had she known tonight would be like this.
To see a squawking chef in his gunk-splattered plumage had been quite the surprise. That certainly hadn’t been in the reviews. In fact, a critic had enthused, “There are some wonderful flavours at work here at this hip new French restaurant. The special ‘Porc Parfait’ is a must – the closely-guarded secret ingredient infusing the roast pork is to die for. This dish is the ultimate umami experience!”.
Liar. The restaurant had been a disappointment and a joke. The waiter had announced the special wasn’t available and instead of pigging out on a great meal as she had anticipated, she was now sitting cold and ravenous on a dirty kitchen floor.
The evening had been going so well. She had been enjoying the end of her third or fourth wine, or something like that, she couldn’t remember. Her husband had been cracking his boring jokes, but luckily the wine had kept her mood level. Even though her heart wasn’t in it, she knew she had to make the effort. That’s what Date Night was all about wasn’t it?
Smiling to encourage her husband’s ‘witty’ flow, she had been surreptitiously signalling to the waiter for a fresh bottle when BANG! Out of the kitchen a bawling chef had stormed. An entrance akin to a train-crash ploughing the restaurant’s atmosphere. A French version of ‘Careless Whisper’ had carried on playing in the background though.
This bizarre scene with the chef had been played out in front of everyone. Chefs belonged in kitchens didn’t they, not marching around with eyes bulging, face reddening, veins pulsating, voice bellowing – making a right din. It wasn’t exactly civilised. He now veered between English and French where she started to catch expletives from the screaming torrent. Then some more words became clearer. Something about “ungrateful bastards”, “they belong in bloody McDonalds”, “who the hell do they think they are?”. How vulgar.
Waiters pointed and the chef had made a beeline for her and her husband. Ah… The baked camembert and sausage starters.
The camembert had been oily with a blob of sauce resembling a blood clot – quite unnerving. Her husband had picked nervously at the sausages, whispering in his weedy way, “Are they cooked, do you think? They look a bit strange. Are they supposed to be pink? Do you think I should send them back?”. She had glugged her wine and barked, “Why are you asking me? Can’t you make your own decisions for once in your life? It’s your food – you sort it out. Get me another wine.”
Waiter summonsed, dishes sent back, new wine in her hand and that was that. They perused the menu, ordered replacement starters, but also sending them back when they arrived. It was strange, she couldn’t remember now what the starters were and what was wrong with them. Her memory was a bit foggy… The wine had been lovely though, she remembered that bit.
And now here she was, sitting on the tiled greasy floor with sore wrists from the butcher’s string. Taking in the smeared walls, she regretted being so fussy. She should have told her husband to shut up and eat the bloody sausages.
Another sliver of memory segued into view, she groaned at the embarrassment… Everyone had turned to stare at them and the shouting chef, especially when her useless husband had leapt up to ‘have a go’, to defend her ‘honour’, or something. Idiot – alcohol always made him think he was King of the Jungle rather than Lord of the Mice. He’d soon been overpowered by the staff. They bundled him through their swing-doors into the kitchens: twitching head first, kicking feet last. Much like a dying cockroach. A sharp exit indeed. She had felt like she was in a demented pantomime; Date Nights in the movies were never like this.
Quickly following her husband and his yells, she had been hustled through the doors by the waiters. Looking backwards, she had seen the other diners quickly returning to their food and chatting like nothing had happened.
She was now in a stainless steel-walled room, listening to her husband’s howls reverberating through the metallic walls. The whooping waiters were probably taking turns spurting scalding-hot water over his soft manicured hands or some other appendage. She winced.
Yes, this was a great Date Night indeed. Shouts and spittle rained down on her. Amidst the swearing and globules of spit, she caught something about pigs. Was the chef telling her to feed his pigs or was it to eat with them? Or, even worse, was he going to…
Looming over her, the chef glowered and was suddenly quiet. His silence was worse than his raging. He started to lightly stroke then slowly caress something protruding from beneath his apron. His chopper? Was he going to cleave her head open like a watermelon? Or do something worse? She screwed her eyes shut to banish the queasy vision.
Pigs’ oinks could now be heard from the backyard. Their squealing crescendo made her jerk her eyes open again, just in time to see the chef’s sneering face as he grabbed the twine round her wrists. He yanked her onto her flailing feet before propelling her out through the door, ready to face her hungry shrieking audience.
With horror, she realised she was going to be the special that night.