After all my friends dropped out of the 2nd Ave Extension in September, I stayed on to help run the new restaraunt.
A new and even more bizarre collection of co-workers settled into my life.
Big Dave and Little Dave were a couple of strange characters in their own right. Ron, the new Manager who I became Assitant Manager to, was a fairly 'normal' guy, if we define 'normal' in the loosest way possible. Everyone, though, no matter how bizarre or strange, seemed refreshingly sane compared to Bob.
To write about Bob accurately, I have pulled an old notebook, from the time, out of my old stacks of notebooks. I want to convince you first of all that I am not making anything up about Bob. This all comes from notes I wrote down at the time.
Bob was obsessed with meeting a Princess. Literally. this was his obsession. And it wasn't just about meeting her, he had to win her heart the way a person won someone's heart in the middle-ages.
"No one WINS a girl the way they used to," Bob said to me one day.
"No," I said, "we don't really live like that any more."
"We should," Bob said.
I wasn't really sure where this conversation was going, so I tried my best to act busy and distracted, but once Bob started on a topic, he refused to let it go.
"In the old Norwegian tales," he began - I knew I would not be able to escape, so I sighed a sigh of acceptance and did my best to act interested. "A guy would walk right up to a maiden - " (a 'maiden'? I thought, really? 'a maiden'?) - "a maiden he had never even seen before, and say, 'Hey, will you marry me?' And then she would tell him to fight the troll, climb a mountain and bring back the horn of a Viking, and then they would get married."
I had to wonder if he had his Norwegian mythology right, but I decide to let it go.
Ron, our new manager, couldn't take the craziness. Believing I was the only sane person at the restaraunt, Ron often came up to me, pulling his hair, and whispering loudly, "This place is crazy! THIS PLACE IS CRAZY!"
Big Dave and Little Dave didn't help.
Big Dave hardly ever said anything. When he did open his mouth, it was usually to let out a loud, manic laugh. That was all. He would laugh like a wild maniac for a minute, then stop laughing, and turn back to whatever food he was cooking, as if nothing had ever happened.
Ron and I would usually make brief eye contact after one of Big Dave's manic laughing fits, shake our heads, and somehow just get on with things.
I don't remember much about Little Dave, other than the avocado pit he was trying to cultivate in an empty jar. Little Dave seemed more or less normal - if by 'normal' we mean he could carry on a converation without resorting to ancient mythological attitudes - until the day he was arrested.
I never knew what he was arrested for. He just didn't show up for work one day, and somehow we found out later that he was in jail.
Bob became obsessed with Little Dave's avocado pit after the arrest, as if Little Dave had died.
Ron wanted to throw the avocado pit out one day but Bob nearly lost control of himself. "NO!" he screamed. "You can't throw out Little Dave's avocado pit!"
"Why not?" Ron asked
"It's all that's left of Little Dave!" Bob exclaimed.
"It's not Little Dave!" Ron said, trying desparately to reason with Bob. "It's an avocado pit!"
"It's Little Dave!" Bob yelled back. "IT'S LITTLE DAVE!"
Ron looked at me, defeated. He threw his hands in the air and walked away.
One morning Bob came to work very excited. "I met a girl last night," he said.
"Yes, a Princess. A real Princess!"
I was curious to hear more, not because I thought he was telling the truth, but because I wanted to be entertained.
"She's a Princess of some small country somehwere. I don't rmember where. But I'm going to marry her."
"Marry her!" I said. "Really!?"
"Just as soon as I find out what my quest is going to be."
"Your quest," I said.
"Yes, I haven't spoken to her yet, but I know we will get married. I'll just have to fight a dragon, or kill the Evil Lord. Oh, this is great!"
He went off to tell Ron about his good fortune, while I turned to the sound of Big Dave laughing maniacally.
Moments later I heard Ron yell from the office, "Get out of here, you crazy fuck!" Apparently he was less open to the entertainment value of Bob's stories than I was.
The end of Bob's tenure at the restaraunt came a few days later.
Bob had failed to win the heart of his new Maiden, or worse, maybe he had never even been given a quest to win her heart with.
He began moping and dragging around the restaraunt barely doing any work at all.
Then one mornng he came to work an hour late. He was stumbling, acting a little bit drunk at 10 in the morning. He didn't say anything for a while. He put on an apron and leaned against the counter, staring blankly. He just stayed that way, staring blankly for 30 minutes. Ron and I shook our heads, the way we often did, accepting the absurdity of the monent, while continuing to do whatever work needed to be done.
After 30 minutes of silent staring, Bob, took his apron off, put on his coat, and left.
"Where are you going?" Ron asked.
"I'm leaving," was all he said.
Two days went by, and Bob did not show up for work at all.
Knowing he lived just a couple blocks away, Ron decided to go out looking for him. He found him in the neighborhood, sitting on a bench, starring up at the treetops.
Ron slowly walked up to him and said, "Bob, you have to come to work."
Bob did not look at Ron. He continued starring up at the trees. "No," said, "I don't think I should work right now."
"But you've got to come to work," Ron said.
Reluctantly, Bob came with Ron. As he entered the restaraunt, he looked around, shook his head, and said, "No, I can't work here anymore. No more work for me. No more drinking either. That's all there is to it. I gotta get outta here." and he turned around and left for the last time.
Ron watched him go and shook his head.
Big Dave let out a particularly loud and manic laugh.
"This whole goddam restaraunt is crazy," Ron said. "the whole goddam restaurant is fucking CRAZY!"
October 15, 2018