Friday, March 04, 2005

I Serve the Queen

In the early 1980s, I had a conversation with the Queen of England, who made a point of thanking me for all that I had done for her.

At the time, I was taking graduate courses in the history of science at U.C. Berkeley and commuting by Guttenberg Express from Stanford. To earn money, I worked as a bartender for Victoria Emmons Catering. Victoria was a French woman who had studied various languages, including Russian, and was married to Dr. Terence Emmons, who taught Russian history at Stanford. My 'significant other' and I often babysat their young children ... for free.

Victoria was a great cook and a wonderful person whose logic usually escaped me despite her sterling Cartesian qualities. I was so accustomed to disagreeing with her that upon being informed that she was on my side in a dispute, I quipped, "Well, if Victoria is on my side, then I must be wrong!"

Victoria hadn't yet opened her restaurant, but her cooking was already renowned enough for Stanford to rely on her when somebody important needed good food.

The Queen was visiting Stanford, and she was considered important.

As bartender, my job was to keep her happy. Since I was head bartender, I was also selected to serve her the initial drink. We caterers were behind the kitchen in Stanford's Hanna House, working out of a tiny space that seemed more like a passageway between rooms than a functional workspace designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Some little guy from the British Consulate was going mad because he felt that we were taking too long, so he tried to squeeze into that narrow room where we were mixing the the Queen's drink, saying, "I'll do it." In one of my rare moments of grace under pressure, I turned to him and said, "No, there are too many people in here already. You stay out there. I'll prepare the drink." He backed off.

I mixed a gin and tonic (if I recall), with a liberal amount of ice, placed the drink on a silver platter, and accompanied the British fellow (we were friends now) to the terrace where the Queen was standing. He said, "Your majesty, your drink."

She turned, looked at the drink, then looked at me, then looked at the drink, then looked at me, then stated in a stately head-of-state way:

"Thank You." (Yes, it was unhyphenated, with both words capitalized. Somehow.)

I rose to the occasion: "You're welcome," I assured her.

Later, I remembered that the British don't put ice in their drinks.


At 10:05 PM, Blogger Kevin Kim said...

I can't believe you blogrolled me with the label "X-rated," per Dr. V's move. It's not as though my site is a clearinghouse for porn links!

Anyway, I enjoyed the queen story. One of my little brothers has worked as a bartender, but I don't know how many famous folks he's met through tending.


At 3:42 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Kevin, you're right, "X-rated" doesn't quite fit (though it might increase your number of hits ... and mine). I thought about "Off-Color." What's your opinion? Should I go with "Off-Color." Or "Strong Language"? Or "Scatological"?

I'll think about this.

At 5:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Scatological...oh man that's funny. Well, it is to me :)

At 9:26 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Nomad, glad that you liked my "Scatological" language.

On reflection, I'm probably going to leave Big Ho's link without an adjectival warning of any sort.

It's the blogosphere. People have to get used to it.

Jeffery Hodges

At 9:59 AM, Blogger Conservative in Virginia said...

That's a hilarious story. Is it really true?

I'll never understand how the English can stand their drinks tepid, especially beer.

At 10:12 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Yes, CIV, it's really true. It's even really, really true.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 2:01 PM, Blogger Perla said...

Did you worked for Victoria Emmons in Palo Alto??? My dad and I worked for her too! But we worked in the 90's.

At 2:07 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Yes, the very Victoria! I tended bar when she hadn't yet opened her restaurant and was still only catering from her home.

Jeffery Hodges

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