Tuesday night, 12/31/13 I was driving around looking for hot soup. I passed the Range, and drove down to the Frontier which, it ends up, closes at 3pm on New Year’s Eve. And, that probably makes sense. Because, if they were open, they would have to put up with all the New Year’s Inebriates. “The amateurs” as my old boss called them.
So, Saggio’s is across from the Frontier. They had two soups listed on the menu thing by the door. At the counter, I asked for a big tub of soup to go. The young lady told me they were out of soup. That is, both soups. She apologized for “derailing” my whole plan. She was nice. But, no Italian Wedding soup? My wife would have gone for it, loves the stuff, but denied.
I didn’t tell you I was searching for the soup for my wife, who was sick at home, with a sick baby. She was waiting for me because I’d gone back to work, after an early dismissal. Well, I hadn’t gone home at 12 when we’d been told to go. I’d had some work emergency and stayed. When I did get home, at 4pm, I was pushing the baby in the swing when it dawned on me. Actually I kind of panicked inside. I hadn’t entered some notes that had to be in before the end of the day (because the end of the day was the end of the month and the end of the year, really, but that part didn’t matter for the notes). I went back to work, baby still in the swing. Not actually, I took the baby back to the mom, told her I had to go, then went off.
You can see, I felt guilty. Guilty for forgetting my work. Guilty for not spending a few extra hours with the baby when I’d been given time off (basket leave, you know what that is). Guilty my wife was sick. Looking for some soup which always helps sick people, give points to the people bringing it.
On a side note: after I quit my job working with the homeless downtown, I served in a restaurant. Once in a while a board member from the homeless shelter I worked in would come in and order soup. She always said it was for her sick husband. I felt like he was sick a lot, but that’s probably not a fair assessment.
The Bandido Hideout was open. I had seen it driving by to get to the Frontier. If you’re reading this you probably know that the way to the Frontier goes by the Hideout. So I doubled back through the alley, back to Central and parked in front of the Hideout. The dining room was decorated, they had a sound system up, the CNN was on showing everything that had happened in 2013, Univision was on. I was the only customer. I thought I was back in Cuernavaca. The music, the furniture, the colors, the Mexican bottles, a fellow in a Luchador mask... The people of Mexico are so warm, and the people of Bandido’s are very warm and welcoming. The Luchador shook my hand, told me they were having a party later and suggested I should come back. There was no one there for the party, yet. But, they let me buy some soup. The Luchador recommended the beef soup, so that’s what I ordered.
So I waited for the soup. And while I waited I noticed the beautifully decorated restaurant. I’ve driven by for years. We all have. But I had never been in. The staff seemed excited about the party and the arriving guests. One told me that several families had reserved tables for the event. They dance. No, I’m serious, they would suddenly break into dance while walking, cutting lemons, messing with the sound system. I imagined the cook, cooking up some soup, quiet back there, waiting for the rush. Him: waiting in the calm before the storm. You know about the calm before the “storm,” if you’ve been a cook. Of course, the cook could be a lady, but either way, the calm before the storm. I wondered why I had never been in the Bandido Hideout before. It is grand, and the atmosphere swept me away from my thoughts of work, the stress, the things that need to change with our social service system. And I realized, this is a new year. We have come this far. We are lucky to be here, and the only people that I know, right now, who know this, are the staff at the Bandido Hideout.
Oh, and the soup. My wife and I concur. It was wonderful!