Mrs. Lee and The Experience

The first time I ever tried “Tofutti” I lived in Berkely California. I waited tables at two different restaurants, The Buttercup Cafe, which was owned by an Ethiopian guy named Fessah who always thought I was stealing his wine (I was not) and The Mongolian Barbeque on the main drag, Martin Luther King Way. That place was run by a Korean Family, whose matriarch, Mrs. Lee, was a tiny little Tazmanian Devil of a woman with a loud, harsh voice who only ever referred to me as “Girl” (really more like “Ghorll”) as in: “You! Ghorll! New table!” There was always a new table in that place, and Mrs. Lee didn’t hesitate to let me know it. One day, when I showed up for work Mrs. Lee was rocking a new ‘do: a tight fuzzy perm that looked like a giant afro. This ‘fro somehow possessed the magical ability to transform Mrs. Lee from a snarling imperious wolverine into a sweet, lilting songbird. Her tone was almost singsong when she lilted “Ooh, Ghorll, you look so pretty today, so nice, so CLEEEEEN!” (the old familiar Tazmanian Mrs. Lee reared her medusa-head on that last part like she was just barely holding it together, songbird-wise, and a little Tazmanian Devil couldn’t help but slip out around the edges. Apparently, Tazmanian Mrs. Lee was backhandedly implying that I was some kind of unwashed hippie on non-‘fro days).  Her change in attitude and new, transparently insincere-yet-complimentary tone was owed entirely to the fact that she felt so cute, what with the new ‘fro and all.

My boyfriend at the time, Scott, was a giant tattooed Pacific Islander guy who had a thing for Jimi Hendrix (one of the tattoos is Jimi’s face). He worked for an auto detailing company which may or may not have been a front for dealing illicit substances. As a perk I guess, he often found himself getting little dime bags of what they call “Chronic Hood Weed” which we may or may not have smoked in abundance, I cant recall. On one such occasion (having maybe or maybe not just smoked the Chronic Hood Weed), Scott opined: “You know, with her new ‘fro, Mrs. Lee looks alot like Jimi Hendrix.”

I called in one day and quit with the weirdest excuse I could think of: “I broke my ankle on the toilet, and I’m never coming back.”

Now, whenever I’m in a better mood due to some external factor like a particularly good hair day, I say I’m having a Mrs. Lee moment or, simply that I am Mrs. Lee today. Like this:

Me (feeling really cute in my new top): “Man this is some great stuff”
Tres: “What? I thought you hated that stuff.”
Me: “I did, but that was yesterday. Today, I’m Mrs. Lee.”

or

Me (fresh from having gotten a massage): “It sure was nice to see Barnabus.”
Tres: “What? I thought you were never going to talk to Barnabus again.”
Me: “Yeah, but I’m Mrs. Lee about him today.”