A decade. Over 13,456 bodies served.
I promised myself that I would work as a massage therapist until I paid off my student loan. That took eight years of bitter monthly payments that seemed imaginary when I looked at the percentage that was clawed off in yearly interest.
It’s been 10 years this month, and last week I had a wake up fall. That’s right, fall, not call. I had a 45 minute break in my day that I thought I would fill with a foamy latte and biscotti at Tamaringo’s. What I hadn’t planned on doing was hydroplaning off the very first wooden stair behind the spa and landing not-so-gracefully on my hip and forearm. Monsoon rains fell from the sky and made my jeans wet so quickly, I wondered if I had wet myself.
My pride was hurt the most, and in my fear of being seen flat out on the stairs I fought off the crocodile tears, jumped up and ran to my vehicle. I had three heartbeats in my body, but the one in my arm was the biggest. Everything on my left side seized. Now what? Was this my career-ender? Just like that, for a stupid latte and biscotti? I was glad I wasn’t over the age of 60, with bones like biscotti, because I would have had a hip fracture for sure. I checked my radius and ulna for the dreaded “dinner fork fracture” which splits both bones at the wrist. I felt my ribs and thought I should eat more ribs. I thought of the last massage I had scheduled for the day and wondered if I could scrounge up any strength to do it.
As I lost myself in the routine that I know best (massaging, not the latte and biscotti, but I do know that routine well too), I thought of what I could do the day my body rejected any further future as a massage therapist.
My dream job has been taken by a determined 12-year-old. And no, I don’t mean that I want a paper route so I can buy a new, shiny bike at the end of summer. I’m referring to Le Petit Gourmet, David Fishman of New York. The kid is lunching with veteran GQ food writer Alan Richman.
Last November, Fishman’s mother sent him out to eat by himself. He walked into Salumeria Rosi without a reservation and agreed to give up his table by 8 p.m. As he was taking notes and chatting up customers, Fishman was spotted by a woman whose friend worked at the New York Times. She gave the boy her card which was passed on to his mother, and the headline ran shortly after—“12-year-old’s a Food Critic, and the Chef Loves It.”
Fishman has even had dinner with Tim Zagat and his story is being gobbled up by Paramount. He told GQ (March 2009), “I didn’t want a movie, if this was an adult aspiring to be a food critic, nobody would care.” Charmed, Alan Richman invited him out to three more meals, and Fishman wrote reviews of each to be printed as excerpts.
“Appearing like a schoolboy doing homework while he ate” Richman thought his approach was “more sensible than what we professionals do, which is to try desperately to conceal our spiral-bound notebooks under the table while we blindly scribble notes we can’t decipher when we get home.”
The kid can eat, Dungeness crab and sushi even, but can he write? The excerpt in GQ on their visit to Kouzan reads: “The sushi for two loomed in front of us, looking like a dish prepared for a TV show, almost fake. One bite and it tasted it too. This restaurant has a far way to come in my opinion to even reach traditional Japanese standards, and something tells me it isn’t even going to try.” The 12-year-old food critic gave the food at Kouzan an 11 out of 25.
When I was 12 I thought having Oreos for breakfast was close to living like royalty. Kraft Dinner with ketchup was de rigeur and cold straweberry frosted Pop Tarts were considered haute cuisine. Regardless, I was beginning to generate career possibilities even then, but I didn’t think of being a full-time food critic (only when my mother made pork hocks and lima beans).
I scribbled down financial windfalls like Kentucky Fried Turkey. KFC had mastered fried chicken, imagine the crowds at Thanksgiving and Christmas if they offered Kentucky Fried Turkey! Unable to find a reliable KFC contact who would allow me to copyright the turkey money-maker, I moved on to a more tangible idea. In Brantford, Ontario, where I grew up, a landmark location was “The Bookworm,” a used bookstore that smelled like Noxema and hair. This was in the heyday of cassette tapes and I told my mother that I needed to buy the space beside The Bookworm. I wanted to open a music store which would be called “The Tapeworm.” But then cassette tapes were pushed into medieval practice with CD marketing. “The CD Worm” sucked as a store name and my brilliant idea went into the ether.
Eating that banana slug would have given me a tapeworm…
My highschool yearbook is a testament to my ongoing fulfilling job search. In 1993 I was quoted as saying that I would like “to be a maxi pad commercial hand model.” Ambitious, yes. But how does one break into that scene?
Still in love with Kraft Dinner at that point, I thought a Kraft Dinner Cafe (not Kafe, because that would be too tacky) would win the hearts and guts of malnourished university students. The menu would offer KD with chopped wieners, salsa, ketchup, sides of fried bologna and retro desserts like chewy Jell-o cubes with Cool Whip. But then I had gnocchi and gave up KD for good.
This is when my letter carrier fantasies began to take a firm hold, but much like the fate of the cassette tape, the future of posties is delicate. I might have the career lifespan of a hamster if I sign up with Canada Post today. Will they even exist in two years? Regardless, I am envious of their bulging calves and the solitary nature of their work. Plus, I’ve had four really good dog bites which would give me a fearless edge.
So now what? All the good jobs are obviously gone. I am patiently waiting for a copy of Alpaca Farming For Dummies to learn where to begin with that enterprise. Who knows, maybe I’ll have a Susan Boyle moment and discover that I have the vocal chords designed for an Inuit throat singer.
I read the Classifieds like a good Catholic does the Bible–but where does one apply to be a Paint Chip Colour Namer? I know exactly how my curriculm vitae would appear for that position. An 8.5′ by 11′ sheet of paper—not white. No, it would be cottage cheese, July clouds, Tom Sawyer fence, French manicure, goat’s milk…and I would put my name on the bottom and decorate the border with Wite-out correction fluid. I’ll be a shoo-in.
If the Paint Chip Colour Namer gig doesn’t pan out, I’m thinking a street cart on Granville selling toasted marshmallows on summer nights would appeal to the urban crowd. Or, if I could just get my foot in the door at Thomas Haas Fine Chocolates, then I could share with him my very best truffle ideas. Like a dark chocolate truffle with cotton candy inside. Or, a charred marshmallow with graham cracker bits, which could be marketed as a reconstructed S’mores.
Drinking pedestrian wine, god, is that Arbor Mist?
If my Toronto neighbour, Claire, wasn’t such a snooty oenophile, I may have looked into becoming a wine critic. You know, talking about the legs and nose of a wine, describing it like a lover. Raw, notes of leather, lingering finish, soft on the palate. But Claire, she destroyed me with her glares at my “pedestrian wine choices.” That is, until she was already drunk, sleepless and wanting more wine after her shift at the bar. Then my pedestrain wine choices were tops on her list.
I could go on, really. Surely a distance education course will become available so I can become a hot air balloon pilot from the comfort of my own home. Wanda still says no to my beekeeping interests due to the allergy=death thing. The bed and breakfast (which I’ve already decided will be called the Bread & Bekfast for simplicity reasons—try saying it 10 times, you’ll get what I mean) is promising. And the Dog-Eared Bookstore? Well, I could just start selling off my heaving shelves.
Ngamba Island Chimp Sanctuary 10th Anniversary Cake–not made by me, but I could do that!
And then there’s cake decorating like the icing wizards on Ace of Cakes. I could do that! Or travelling on a camel across Ethiopia to Morocco delivering books to African kids like that woman did in the The Camel Bookmobile. Surely that’s a franchise!
For the time being I will continue with the hairy back industry. But I’m feeling the years of rubbing everyone the right way. What I know for sure is that I won’t be able to work at Tiffany’s helping customers with dainty necklace clasps. And making tiny little swans out of origami? Nope. All my fine motor movement will be gone after another decade of massaging. At that point I will be found cracking open jars and bottles much like hard-boiled eggs on countertops to get at the pickles or wine inside.
Any further ideas are always appreciated. As you can see, I will consider anything, within reason of course.
Another option, getting into the lucrative Live Bait market