Thursday, February 23, 2012

I Hate People With Gluten Allergies

Don't get your wheatgrass in a twist, I don't actually hate anyone. I am actually full of Christ-like love for all mankind but goodness do they make it hard. Hate is just a perfect word for blogs and the blazing sensation I get for people when I'm at work.

This is a continuation of my blog "I Don't Care About Your Stupid Diet."

Gluten. Everybody and their dog is allergic to gluten. Where did this come from? Did gluten not exist before 2008? I respect that scientists and doctors learn new information everyday but you would think that the gluten epidemic would have been discovered ages ago. "Does this have any gluten in it? If I have gluten I just might die." I'm sorry, but if gluten is something that could kill you not only would you already be dead (since I know you just found out you have a "gluten allergy" last year), I would also put the burden on you to know what foods have gluten in them before you put them in your mouth. I have no idea.

Ok, fine, I have an idea. Now. I had a general idea what gluten was before the massive, never-ending stampede of sensitive digestive tracts started plowing into my restaurant, but I certainly wasn’t aware of every single food product that has gluten in it. IT'S JUST NOT MY JOB. I get paid minimum wage (in some states below minimum wage) to generally know the recipes of menu items and serve them to people. I should not be required to study nutritional therapy for celiac and Crohn’s disease patients. I'm sorry. Maybe I would care more if people cared more about tipping…

I really just hate people with gluten allergies. And I’m not just being mean, I have viable reasons. They are always attitudinal (because everything worth eating has gluten in it) and they not only expect you to know all about their health condition i.e. personal problem, they also demand you worship them for it as if they were a bald, prescient 7-year-old with leukemia. You have weak intestines, that’s all. Your body is not being ravaged by a malevolent, debilitating cancer or disfiguring virus…you just can’t eat bread and other goodies. You get a little sympathy but certainly no martyrdom. Chill out, be nice and don’t bite my head off when I’m not sure if something has gluten in it. I’m also not sure if my head has gluten in it either so beware.

The gluten-free movement has forged way too much space for any idiot, hypochondriac, or Manchausen suspect to get a tummy ache and diagnose themselves with gluten intolerance. Now my tables are being clogged with every Tom, Dick, and Mary that has a little gas insisting it is my ordained duty to be their gluten police.

Another reason I don’t like gluten free allergics is because 90% of them are faking it. Yep, that’s right. I live in Los Angeles where everyone’s number one goal is be thinner. Therefore a diet that consists of not eating bread, cookies, cakes, pasta, fried food, chips, beer, etc., is perfect for the general LA population of rabid skinny jeans aspirants. These flagrant counterfeiters pretend like they’re suffering victims of a relatively painful disorder and bark demands for their own gluten-free menus only to fit into their whorish club attire better. Some of these cons fake it to treat their low self esteems and low intelligence quotients in effort to feel important and clever. "I have a gluten allergy. Name every single thing on your menu with gluten in it and then I'm going to debate you so I can feel superior and prove just how stupid you are."

I served one of these people the other day, a woman; we'll call her "Bitch," who yelled at me because I wasn't sure whether there were "traces" of barley in what she wanted to order. The manager had no idea either. How should we know if there are "traces" of barley? We know barley is not in the recipe but cannot guarantee there are no traces. She wouldn't take "cannot guarantee" for an answer and instead of simply ordering something else, proceeded to have a temper tantrum, vehemently expecting us to call the food distributors or someone, anyone to find the answer at eight o'clock at night. Called us stupid and unqualified. Verbatim. Bitch was HEINOUS.

There was a man who desperately wanted to order an item that had wheat in it. It was pre-prepared so it could not be made gluten free. Horns literally grew out of this man's forehead. I saw the Anti-Christ in the flesh. He growled,  

"What the hell do you mean you can't make it gluten-free? What kind of place is this? You don't cater to all the millions of people that are gluten-free?!" 

"Beside the fact that we don't actually serve millions of people, sir, we actually do cater to gluten-free guests. We care deeply about the dietary needs of all of our guests; it is just that this particular item cannot be made gluten-free; it is pre-made."

"I got it gluten-free last time."

"No, I'm so sorry, but you didn't, sir. Unfortunately, you are mistaken since that item cannot be made gluten-free. I am very sorry for any confusion," 

I hate it when people tell a bold-faced lie and claim they got something last time when there is no possibility that could ever happen. He asked for the manager who repeated the same information, cursed him out, and then ordered the item anyway. He slopped the meal down like it was his last meal before mounting the monumental task of destroying the world. Gluten allergy my foot. 

I can tell an honest person with a real gluten allergy because they know what the heck they're doing. They don't act hoity-toity and don't ask stupid questions. They don't wear their allergy like one of those sad backless hospital gowns. It's not an artifice for sympathy, individualism, or a ploy for self-gratification; it's merely a personal circumstance they live with. No pretense, attitude or assumptions. I am happy to help people with genuine questions and concerns that don't treat me like an incompetent when I can't alleviate their private struggle by knowing the ins and outs of their condition or don't have any options for them to eat. Those are the people I can't stand and who deserve a nice gorging at The Olive Garden...

Sunday, February 12, 2012

I Don't Care about Your Stupid Diet

Alright, maybe it sounds harsh, but it's true. Unless someone has a truly life-threatening allergy, I could care less about the intricacies of puerile hypochondriacs' latest fad diets that make them feel like individuals instead of the hackneyed sheep they really are. It is not my job to know and understand your new special Hollywood-inspired diet. That is your job. My job is to serve you food.

Clearly, it is my job to know the primary ingredients of menu items where I work and try my best not to kill people with allergic reactions. And I really do a great job. However, I do not know every single last morsel and trace remnant included in every single item on the entire menu; I'm not a chef nor did I father the menu. No one in the restaurant has those answers; even the managers only know the basic recipes, not the exact ingredients of every recipe item (and you should know all, yes, ALL restaurants use processed products somewhere along the line, usually even when they say they don't.) Therefore, if you are worried about whether or not a miniscule amount of some random food product is in your food, assume that it is and either don't order that item or protect yourself and cook at home.

I'm tired of smug stiff necks getting mad at me because I don't have a good answer when they bring up their medical condition that requires a special diet. "I have IBS. What items on the menu are OK for me to have?" What do I look like? Your nutritionist? You better ask your doctor or spouse because I have no idea, nor do I care to learn.

In no way do I wish to seem bitter or insensitive. I genuinely do want to cater to my guest's needs, as long as they understand reasonable limitations and don't get rude or condescending when I answer as one who has never seen their medical records. I have superb knowledge of my menu, not medical pedagogy. Here's one: "I don't eat nightshades. Are there any nightshades in this or do you prepare this dish in a pan that is shared with nightshades? I avoid them because they are known to cause decreased I.Q." You're joking. About .3% of the population knows what a nightshade is. Why on earth would you assume I'm one of them? (Even though I am...?) Clearly, a nightshade or two has crept into your diet at some point.

This whole thing started with peanuts. Peanut allergies were the gateway drug. "Are there any peanuts or is peanut oil used in this?" Ok, fine. I'll know that. I get that. You're allergic to peanuts and if you eat anything with peanuts in it your throat will swell and collapse. Let's make sure that doesn't happen. Shellfish allergy? I got you. Dairy, fish, eggs, and nuts are all allergies I am familiar with and readily capable of adhering to. We servers are trained to know menu items containing these because they are the most common food allergens. But then began the War Against Carbs. "I'm not eating any carbohydrates, what's on the menu that I can have?" I know what a carb is, they're easily avoidable, and since you obviously also know what a carb is, why can't you answer your own question? Then came the soy problem. "There's so much estrogen in soy, it causes ovarian cancer/makes you fat/turns you into a woman. Is there any soy in this?" Really? Do you know how many products have soy or soy derivatives in them? Then it was corn, sugar, and of course, the colossal pandemic, gluten...

 I don't want this particular blog to be too long so I'm going to write an entirely other blog about the most common offenders of my nerves at work: vegans and gluten antagonists. TBC...

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Married Actors are No Fun

So I have the hots for a guy in my acting class. When we do a scene together I quite literally dissolve underneath his gaze. It would be all fine and dandy if he just wasn't MARRIED.

I feel horrible. I feel guilty, dirty, and down right sinful. I've never been attracted to anyone who was married because I find wedding rings to be highly unattractive. When I see a handsome man and get a whiff of a wedding band, he's instantly transformed into asexual brother/father figure. I just don't think of married men that way because A. It's not right B. I have too much respect for marriage (and their wives) C. If I were married I would never want anyone looking at my husband. I might cut a hoe.

But he's dreamy actor dude and he's prompted a moral dilemma in me:

How will I ever be able to have a healthy, happy, highly functional romantic relationship when I'm slobbing on hot actors all day long on set, stage, or in class?? How do people do that?!

It's just not human. Even if you're not particularly attracted to someone initially, after weeks or months immersed in realistically portraying someone's romantic partner, getting intensely intimate, it's only natural to bond. And what if you were attracted to them to begin with? How do you turn off those feelings, then genuinely depict them, then "turn them off" again, then go home to your significant other as if nothing out of the ordinary happened? Just because you're getting paid for it doesn't mean it's not cheating...In my case, the severity of the problem lies in the fact that there is mutual attraction and hence the intimacy exercises in class can be used as a means to act out what is morally corrupt outside of class. Though I would never act on my attraction, nor do I show it or consciously pursue time with him in class, I am aware of our attraction and that tension in itself bothers me.

Is it really possible to be truly faithful as an actor? There's a deep, dark crevice in my conscience that's loudly whispering maybe not....

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

You're Always Someone's Role Model

An actor friend called me asking for advice today. Honored. I was simply honored!

Me? Giving industry advice? I often forget exactly how far I've gotten because I'm too busy being ungrateful and hopelessly unsatisfiable. As an artist, I enjoy being depressed and unsatisfied. I find any excuse to linger in it. I'll be having the best day and when someone asks me how I'm doing I instantly revert to my rote, "Meh, I've had better days..." like some dry old lady. It's pathetic. My acting career has taken me to 35 states and Mexico, bought me my first car, allowed me to have deep spiritual experiences on stage in front of hundreds of admiring eyes, took me to Harvard to study with the faculty of the incredible Moscow Art Theater and put my cute little mug on national television several times a day, every day. And yet I still don't feel like I've done enough. But today I got the best medicine for the aching actor heart; VALIDATION from another human being. You're always further along than someone else in life, and hence, you're kinda always someone's role model.

This friend of mine is battling the graduate school audition circuit right now. Graduate school auditioning is a soul-sucking experience that transforms actors into quivering slabs of meat stuffed with exasperated soliloquies and pedantic personality quirks. When you take it as a no-strings attached dance with destiny, it can be quite fun. When you take it as, 'I'm going to die if I don't get into one of my top five,' you're going to be mortified...and also very likely disappointed. After several auditions with several universities, my friend has received zero callbacks and is feeling angry and weary.

He asked me: At what point do you just stop caring and do good work?

My answer:

You stop caring and do your best work after you release yourself from your expectations and learn to embrace failure.

You gotta have the proper relationship with failure. As an actor, you better have a love affair with failure. I would say that the ability to persevere in the entertainment industry comes from understanding and accepting that 90% of the time you are going to be rejected. You are going to "fail." It is simply how it works. It's cool. That 10% success rate is all you need and everything you hope it will be. You have to LEARN TO LOVE IT. You've really already won: You booked an audition AND you got the chance to do what you love AND every time you do that, you get better.

I never expect to actually book a job. I know that I'm fabulous and should book them all. But I realize that there's hundreds of reasons why I won't book a job that have absolutely nothing to do with my talent. Therefore, when I go into an audition, I see it as just that: an audition; an opportunity to show what I can do and have fun doing it. Hopefully I show them what they need but if not, I always know that I showed them something good because I am confident in my PREPARATION. In the end I don't care whether I will book that job in particular because I know that if it's not that one, it'll just be another one. There's always another audition, another job. No audition is the end all of my career. As long as I went in there and did what I said I was going to do and had fun, I succeeded.

So after a few years of "failing" in Hollywood, I have officially stopped caring. I don't care whether I book this job or that. I don't care whether I was too pale, dark, skinny, fat, short, tall for whatever job. I care whether or not I went into that audition and kicked the teeth out of it; I care whether I truly had fun. Hollywood is a place where you have to find all your strength from within; you have to truly believe in yourself and be loyal to yourself. Be OK with things not going as you planned. Release yourself from the dreams and expectations you have for your life and commit to simply doing what YOU planned to do, not what you planned for other people to do for you. You're not going to get any validation from this industry. You have to learn how to validate yourself. Be your own role model and you'll be someone else's too.

After basically saying all that to my friend, I told him not to give a crap whether or which graduate school he got into; his life would be a success no matter the outcome of the auditions because he'd know how to persist proudly even after "failures."