I was punching in an order when Mae showed me one of the tent cards our new manager had just finished distributing to all the tables.
Christmas was a week away; the first since Doll & Penny’s had changed hands from father to son and, as the tent cards indicated, the first time it would be open on Christmas Day.
Mae and I marched to the bar where our new manager pretended he had nothing to hide.
“What’s the meaning of this?” I asked.
“I’m just the messenger,” he said.
“You and the angel Gabriel,” I said. “Only he didn’t deliver the news on a tent card.”
Mae and I bitched and moaned a few minutes until I came to the conclusion that when life gives you eggs make nog.
“I’ll work Christmas for New Year’s off,” I told my manager.
“Me too!” Mae chimed in.
“Deal,” he said.
Mae and I truly expected the café to be a ghost town. What moron goes out for breakfast on Christmas? We were sipping coffee with Bailey’s and deciding who would go home first when the café filled to capacity and there was a line out the door. We hadn’t been this busy since Halloween.
The kitchen ground to a halt. It was taking half an hour for bacon and eggs. The cooks were so far behind one of them actually started crying.
The strange thing about D&Ps was that no matter how terrible the food was or how long it took, people always stuck around for it to arrive; it was the culinary equivalent of a bad relationship – after investing so much time in it, why give up now?
At D&Ps, when the going got tough, the tough put on a show. I cued the cassette of A Very Special Christmas to Madonna’s “Santa Baby.”
“You’re on Mae,” I shouted.
Mae climbed onto a table and started lip-synching the song – poorly. While she entertained the troops I surreptitiously served food as it trickled out of the kitchen. She had performed the entire album in the time it took the cooks to catch up.
We toasted each other to a job well done. “What are you doing now?” she asked.
“Nothing,” I shrugged.
“Come to my place.”
I followed Mae home where her roommate was playing host to every orphaned drag queen in town. Mae put on a sequined gown and tiara, then made egg rolls and fried Spam for us.
Sitting on the floor, wiping Spam grease from my face and watching the drag queens taking turns performing Christmas carols in Mae’s living room, I thought whoever came up with the term “gayer than bells on a sleigh” hadn’t witnessed this.