For those of you who are just joining us, you’re going to have to go back and read the other two parts. This isn’t Netflix. Well, not yet.
So there I was, sitting in my trailer – and not the one I had dreamed of. The one on a movie lot. The one with my Name on it. And a Star. A BIG Star.
I do have a dressing room, and by dressing room, I mean a tack room on the ranch where I was living in that tiny trailer and where my horse was living large. I actually love this tack room because this tack room was once upon a time a Dressing Room from a Big Hollywood Movie Studio. Once upon a time it had wheels and they would wheel it onto a soundstage for some Movie Star. Now it was mine. Well, not actually mine. It belongs to the ranch and I have to share it. But I can pretend it’s mine. And I do. And I can pretend it’s still a Dressing Room on some soundstage on a Big Hollywood Movie Studio.
And I do. Because if you look very carefully on the door of my tack/dressing room, you will find a little star. I found that star at the bottom of the box of I had marked “Christmas Ornaments”. It no longer contained any ornaments because I had thrown all of them out the last Christmas I spent in Florida. Did I tell you about that? Don’t worry. I will. It was actually the first and the last Christmas I spent in Florida.
But now I had a trailer and I had a dressing/tack room, even if they weren’t on a Big Movie Studio Lot. You gotta take the snippets of your dream where you find them.
I had my iPad and I had YouTube and I had $1000 of extra data on my AT&T Plan and because of that I had Gordon Ramsay.
Sitting in my trailer, with the odor of chemical toilet wafting through the air, I watched every episode of Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares. And when I finished watching every episode of Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, I watched them all over again. And when I finished watching every episode of Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares twice, I watched them again.
I watched every episode of Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares 5 times.
And I came to realize that every episode was actually the same. Some poor family who had invested every last cent into their restaurant, some poor family who had had their restaurant for generations upon generation, was in trouble. Big trouble. Houses were in jeopardy. College educations were in jeopardy. Cars had been sold. Families were divided. All was lost. Almost.
And just when they thought that almost all was lost, in walks Gordon Ramsay.
And he looks around their restaurant, with the dusty Christmas lights and the fake flowers and shrubbery, with the ceiling fans that haven’t been cleaned since the restaurant opened, with the brown 1950’s panelling, the multitudinous brick-a-brack, the weird, torn banquet hall chairs and the stained carpet that smelled even worse than the odor of chemical toilet that pervaded and permeated everything I owned in the little trailer.
And he looks over the menu, which runs about 50 pages, which is covered with a thin film of grease, which hasn’t been changed since the grandfather or great-grandfather who started the restaurant had created, or the owner who never owned a restaurant before but whose husband or relatives or friends had convinced them that they were such great cooks, they should open a restaurant and they actually do, or which has very faded, very bad photos of the food he will invariably have to taste.
And then he tastes the food. Which is never good. Almost never good. I think in all of the episodes I watched 5 times, he liked the food maybe twice. Maybe three times. Let’s just say a lot of napkins died in the making of Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares.
And then he starts yelling. And the family starts crying. He asks them if they want to change, if they are willing to change. And through the tears, they agree. They want to change. They want to do the things that will save their restaurant. They will do anything to make things better.
Except anything that has to do with the menu. Or the staff, which is all made up of friends or relatives or drug addicts. Or all three. They really only want Gordon Ramsay to change the decor because they think that that is all that’s really wrong with their restaurant. They want a facelift. And Gordon Ramsay knows this.
And he threatens to leave and never return.
But Gordon Ramsay will not be denied. And the restaurant owners will not be moved. And so after some more yelling on Gordon Ramsay’s part, every one goes home to do some Serious Thinking.
And then Gordon Ramsay shows up early at the restaurant. Earlier than any one of the owners, or the cooks, or the drug-addicted staff.
And he looks in the refrigerator.
And all hell breaks loose.
Because there in the refrigerator are things that have begun to take on a life of their own. Dead Chicken Legs are alive with bacteria and dancing the Tarantella. Red meat has turned green and has begun to pulsate. Pork, the Other White Meat, is White Meat No Longer.
And in the freezer is box after box after box of Pre-Made Frozen Food. Hamburger Patties, Chicken Wings, French Fries, Calamari, Chicken Parmagian. If it could be frozen and boxed, it was frozen and boxed. Box after box after box after box came out of those freezers.
And in the kitchen were stoves that hadn’t been cleaned in years, with more layers of grease and grime and dirt than had been in my little trailer before Master Cleaning Service had shown up to clean for 8 hours non-stop.
I should have stopped watching after the first episode, because in my little trailer was a kitchen and thanks to the tireless work of 4 adults with power equipment, I did have a clean kitchen. All my pots and pans were in my POD and even if I did go to The Dollar Store to exchange the $100 worth of cleaning supplies I had first purchased when I arrived at the little trailer, for some Dollar Store Pots and Pans, I was not about to cook in that trailer.
Because that trailer lived on a horse ranch and where there are horses, there are flies. I know I didn’t mention that before but there are a lot of things I didn’t mention before. Like the $300 worth of curtains from Walmart I had to buy to cover the now-clean windows. Or the $200 worth of fly tape I had to buy from the Do-It Center in Tujunga. Because every time I opened the door of the tiny trailer to go in or go out, or let my 3 little Chihuahuas in or out, about 500 flies did what flies do. They flew in. And they stayed in.
That is the thing about flies. They never seem to know when to leave.
And so I was eating out. And by eating out I mean I would call and order food and pick it up and bring it back to eat at the tiny built-in dinette.
And as I watched Gordon Ramsay take rancid bowl after rancid bowl of sauce or gravy or metal pan after metal pan of putrified lamb chops out of those restaurant refrigerators, I started to become very afraid.
Because I wasn’t about to start cooking in that tiny but clean kitchen to feed any of the 500 flies that shared the tiny trailer with me and my 3 little Chihuahuas.
But suddenly ordering in didn’t seem to be such a great option, either.
I had let go of so many things in the past month from when I decided to leave Florida and return to Los Angeles. I had let go of a beautiful house, and the dream of spending time with my parents before the clock ran out. I had let go of new friends, of an Avocado tree I had grown from a pit which had made the trip across country in my POD to be buried in my new, and what I thought was permanent, backyard. I had let go of tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that in my new city.
And now that I was back in Los Angeles, living in a tiny trailer on a horse ranch along with 3 little Chihuahuas and about 500 flies, it looked like I was about to have to let go of eating as well.
And just when I was about to blame Gordon Ramsay for that last blow, everything changed.
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END PART THREE