Cheech & Chicken Wings

Below is an excerpt from my book — a mostly true story about my days as a strip club bartender in Austin, Texas where I mostly broke shit, drank a ton of booze, sometimes poured drinks, and always hit on my favorite manager.

“What’s up, Forest?” Cheech walked in.

“What up, my G,” I jutted my chin up at him. “Wanna make a bet?”

“Yep,” he said without hesitation.

“Your boy in the corner with the gray shirt ordered lemon pepper wings and asked for them to be cooked extra hard. How much do you wanna bet that even though I type in the computer for them to be extra crispy, he will still complain that they haven’t been cooked long enough?”

Cheech laughed before replying, “I don’t think he will do it again this week. I got $10 on it.”

We shook hands and I swiveled the chunky computer monitor around so I could show him on the screen the modified note I typed on the wing order for Kell (or James) to see in the kitchen. XTRA HARD, CRISPY AF, DUDE IS SASSY, COOK FOR 30 MINS IDGAF.

“Hope he doesn’t see that on his bill later,” Cheech remarked.

“I’m telling you he’s not going to even have a bill because he’s going to complain about the wings and then get them comped off his tab.”

“We’ll see, Forest.” He smiled and then took a seat at the poker table with the Mexican Coca-Cola bottle I had grabbed him.

A little while later when I went to the kitchen to check on the extra crispy lemon pepper wings, Kell was pulling them out of the deep frier. “Nope. Cook them longer,” I said.

“Trust me, the wings are extra crispy.”

“Trust me, this guy’s a douche.”

“What level of douchery?”

“I’d call him a Karen except for the whole having penis thing.”

“Oh shit,” Kell said as he dropped the wings back in the fryer. “Just drop off the wings and tell him, ‘One Love, Baby,’” he suggested.

If I were one of those people who woke up every day and said the things I was thankful for, Kell’s existence would be one of them.

“Kell, I have a question for you,” I began.

He turned away from the fryer to give me a small bow and said, “Yes, grasshoppa.”

“There’s this one guy who sits at the bar all the time and when he gets to a certain level of drunkness, he becomes cross-eyed. Where do I look when he talks to me? Do I look in the center? Do I pick one eye? Do I lean over and look into the crooked one?”

“Cross your eyes also dummy,” he answered without hesitation.

A few minutes later when I delivered the extra hard lemon pepper wings to homeboy, he took one bite and spit out the chicken wing.

“I said extra hard. I’m Jamacian! These are not extra hard!” I smirked and looked over at Cheech who shook his head as he smirked.

“What happened with that guy who was pissed about his wings?” I asked Thomas at the end of our shift in the office.

“I comped them off his tab,”

“I fucking knew it!” I abandoned Thomas and my end-of-shift checkout duties to go find Cheech and tell him. I found him out on the smoking patio with some marijuana in hand and, of course, elected to partake.

“Thomas comped the wings,” I beamed at him. Cheech laughed and passed me the blunt and a $10 bill.

Since Thomas was obviously in love with me by now, he came outside to say bye to me before he left. Just kidding, he only came outside to give me my tip money and to tell me he spoke with Chaz in the office just a minute ago. They needed me to stay behind and bartend for a few more hours. Apparently, the night shift bartender was running late because she woke up in Dallas — a casual three or so hours from Austin.

“Sure,” I agreed to it.

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