Thursday, July 29, 2010


Jimmy was a six foot four, two hundred eighty pound, wildly flamboyant some-time drag queen waiter I met at House of Pies when we were hired within the same week. It'll be 25 years ago this November since we worked our first shift together. We eventually shared a couple of apartments and I was also friends with his Mom and brother for many years.

Jimmy was always kinda high-strung, and though he covered his tables well in a rush, he could be a hoot to watch because he was so dramatic when he was busy. I loved playing pranks on him and one of my favorites was to get him to proposition the dishwasher in Spanish. I knew just enough dirty slang to get him in trouble, and he would fall for the same joke over and over. We'd be slammed and he'd ask me, "How do I say, 'I need water glasses in the back station?'" Two minutes later, Jimmy would be running away from the dish area screaming, "What did I say? What did I say?" with two or three guys from the back of the house cat-calling him. The dishwashers and bussers were in on my joke - they were the ones that taught me those phrases. After a while, I think Jimmy was doing it more for our entertainment than out of his own naivete.

Likely the worst fun I ever had at Jimmy's expense was the night he farted in the middle of his station. We were really busy, and he was mortified that someone might have heard him. I found him in the back service area trying to rip a hole in his pants so he'd have an excuse for what he said was a fart "so loud it sounded like a Buick backfiring." I told him that I doubted if anyone even noticed, convinced him to stop ripping his pants and we went back out on the floor. My station was right next to his, so as soon as we got to our tables, I said (real loud), "PHEWWW! What's that SMELL?!" Jimmy turned 13 shades of purple.

I may have been the better prankster at work, but Jimmy got even at home - even if he didn't always mean to. The first apartment we lived in together was a shotgun. There was a window over the door in the kitchen that led to a small pantry, and if that window had been left open, when you opened the front door, the window would slam shut and sound every bit like someone going out (or in?) the back door. I didn't know that yet the night I came home about 7:00 to Jimmy's car in his parking space, but no lights on in the apartment. When I walked in and heard the slamming sound, I called out for Jimmy. There was no answer - I was scared - and I picked up the first thing I could reach inside the door (it was probably something stupid like a magazine) and started doing my best Sabrina Duncan moves through the apartment. We didn't have an overhead light in the front room, so the first light switch I reached was the bathroom, and when I flipped it on I saw blood all over the mirror. It looked like Jimmy had tried to write a message, but I couldn't read it and I was dreading finding his body ... he must have been in pretty bad shape to actually write with his own blood.

I searched the rest of the apartment and there was no sign of Jimmy, but I was really puzzled about why his car would be there and he wasn't. Had he been kidnapped? I finally drove up to the restaurant where he worked and darned if he wasn't waiting tables! I was so mad and so relieved at the same time, I almost cried. When I told Jimmy the story about the "blood" he said, "Oh, I just wrote myself a note with lip gloss on the mirror so I'd be sure to see it. It must have melted." I asked, "What about your car?" and I found out he'd gotten a ride with another waiter. And to think I came within inches of beating someone to death with a magazine.

Jimmy and I had a few more adventures - and they usually involved me teasing him, and him scaring me - until we parted company about two years later and he moved in with his boyfriend. He died as the result of a fall about ten years ago, and I stayed in touch with his Mom for three or four years after, but we'd always wind up talking about Jimmy. After a while we just stopped calling each other.

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