Or: The things I can do to a chicken.
Razors pain you Rivers are damp Acids stain you And drugs cause cramp Guns aren't lawful Nooses give Gas smells awful You might as well live.
About a week ago, I spent some time on the patio of a dear friend, enjoying good food, good beer and good weather.
It’s a rarity in the Deep South, to be voluntarily outside in the middle of an August afternoon, when temperatures regularly reach stratospheric heights. Sweltering days of 100+ weather are not uncommon. So it was lucky we got to get together and just relax in a balmy 80 degree afternoon.
While sitting around the table, we turned our attention to the closure of a spate of local restaurants, why this place went out of business or the problems with that place and how it will be going out business. How ever did such-and-such ever manage to build a successful restaurant? Just your typical armchair quaterbacking by a bunch of foodies, when Bob Eisenstadt, an economist-friend, chuckled.
“This from all of us who’ve never run a restaurant,” he says.
I sheepishly raise my hand. He nods.
“Oh, that’s right.” Then he smiles. “You’ve done a remarkable number of things.”
It wasn’t meant nor was it delivered as an insult, but rather an observation I chose to take as a compliment. It’s true I’ve done a ton of different things. But while some people might think that’s because I’m multi-talented, maybe it’s just because I can’t hold a job?
My last therapist called it best. She said, “Michael, I fear you are ill-suited to the corporate world. Perhaps a career as a landscaper or handyman? Something not requiring you to have a boss.”
It occured to me later, after I’d gone home and taken a shower, put on the PJ’s and piled up in front of the TV for an episode or six of The West Wing, that Bob’s statement and the pronouncement of my therapist were probably related.
The “remarkable number of things” I’ve done aren’t a function of some inate talent or ability. They’re because I’m severely ADHD and I bounce off the walls if my mind isn’t going a million directions at once. And once I reach a level of mastery sufficient to succeed, I grow bored.
Professional student syndrome anyone?
At any rate, I’ve now spent the last few days piecing together my work history – including the things that, while not professional endeavors, did take up a lot of my time.
So without further ado, here’s my own Resume:
1.) Office Bitch. Aka “here, do this” and “can’t you find something productive to do?” Position held from 15-17, when in high school.
2.) Computer Repair Technician. (Did this in several stints, but we’ll just talk about the first one — after the boss from the job above realized I’d worked myself out of a job and now needed new skills.)
3.) Network Admin/Deskside Support. The local District Manager of H&R Block paid me to fix their computers, build the networks, and train the tax preparers. It was so successful of a post that the company — the national company — paid a site visit, saw what I was doing, and duplicated it in all 980 districts nationwide. I was 19.
4.) Theatre junkie. That means actor, director, stage hand, set builder, props master, chorus line, starring role. I was even trained in stage combat by some of the same people who choreographed Braveheart.
5.) Marketing director. This is the one I come back to…over and over and over again…if only because it provides the most variety and steadiest income stream.
6.) Reporter. Newprint, magazine, television. Even a couple of radio spots. I’ve done it all.
7.) Novelist. Two down, how many to go?
I’m sure I’m leaving things off. But looking back over it, I’m beginning to grow nostalgic, like I want to go back to some of them for a time and see what new, exciting things I could learn.
Of course, I’d probably get bored, stick my head in the oven and finish myself off. Maybe Dorothy Parker was right. That thing we do, while moving through the days, weeks and months of our years, is life.
Oh well,Â you might as well live.
P.S. I almost forgot:
While you’re living, try this out. Just a little something something I came up with tonight. Improvisation was one of the first skills I learned running restaurants for Paul Elias.
This is a recipe of threes, so it’s easy to remember. Assembly is important…otherwise you end up with a chicken stew.
3 – Frozen, boneless chicken breasts
3 – Tablespoons, Butter
3 – Tablespoons, each, Garlic, Basil, Oregano. (3×3=9 total)
3 – Tablespoons, Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 – Teaspoons, kosher salt
3 – healthy splashes, Merlot
3 – Tablespoons, bread crumbs
3 – Teaspoons, Parm. Cheese, grated finely.
3 – Yukon gold potatoes, roughly cubed.
ASSEMBLY: In a glass dish, place the three chicken breasts, still frozen. Add olive oil, drizzling atop the breasts and into the dish as well. Sprinkle seasonings onto chicken then into olive oil in pan. Save some seasonings for later. Pour three healthy splashes (roughly 2/3 cup) of Merlot into bottom of dish.
Once the chicken is coated in seasonings and herbs, sprinkle 1 TBSP of bread crumbs atop chicken. Carefully surround the chicken with the potatoes and sprinkle remaining seasonings atop the potatoes. Finish off the breasts by placing one tablespoon of butter atop each and dusting the entire pan with the parmesan cheese.
BAKE: Securely cover the entire dish with foil, so moisture will not escape. Bake in a preheated oven for 1 hour at 425 degrees. The chicken will thaw while cooking. For the final 3-5 minutes, remove the cover and switch the oven to broil to brown the chicken.
Remove, and serve with lightly steamed asparagus spears or brusselsprouts.
It’s heaven, let me tell you. Your guests will be licking the plate.