Wednesday, November 28, 2007


That which pulled me out of my annual mid-February slump -- the time of year when winter really gets to me and I seem to strike new lows -- was neither a woman nor a large sum of money. It was not a vacation to warmer climes, or the promise of a job I was pulling for. My hex of ill will and poor attitude was broken when, after two months of unemployment, I took work as a server at a Lebanese restaurant.

I had recently graduated from college, moved to Cleveland, and failed to find a real job. I surveyed my options locally – bakery, bookstore, bagel shop, supermarket. At the month-and-a-half mark for my joblessness, I had nearly drained my bank account, and any purchase of more than ten dollars would have me ringing my neck. I could no longer buy my own food, and realized my life had struck a new low when I had to ask one of my roommates to buy me a loaf of bread. Shortly thereafter, I was offered a job at the restaurant.

I started my serving job on the 15th of February – typically the pinnacle of the mid-Feb. slump. I nodded sternly and politely as various Lebanese entrees were thrust in my face and named. My first day was spent acquiring the nomenclature of the menu – a combination of Arabic and terms the owner had made up.

At the end of the day, in a gesture of immense goodwill, my manager offered me a meal to take home. I had not yet experienced any of the menu items, though I did mention that I liked falafel and hummus. Dany procured me a Vegetarian Combo – a large appetizer consisting of hummus, tabouli, baba, falafel, and dawali. I took it home.

The Combo can easily feed 4 as an appetizer, but for me, having not eaten anything other than cheese and ramen for the last 3 weeks, this was to be my meal. I gorged, mopping up the baba and tabouli with pita, shoving that into my mouth and almost biting off my fingertips. It felt as if I hadn’t eaten in a month. In a way, I hadn’t. I considered leaving a little behind for my roommates when they got home, then reconsidered, and finished it all myself.

Overstuffed and satiated, I stumbled onto the couch and turned on The Simpsons. For the first time in quite a while, I could get comfortable and relax. I was full.

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