The Boss is what my mother would call a "horrible little man". He's not my boss, but from what I gather he does something that's considered important at an ad agency near the restaurant. Maybe he's one of that new breed of ad people who just seem to have discovered irony and self-awareness, and who have taken this revelation to the nation's television screens, filling mine with endless smug, inane meta-wanks that – I think – are designed to sell me something purely by virtue of how loathsome they are. To be honest, I have no idea of the ins and outs of his day-to-day employment. I just wish he'd stop coming into the restaurant.
He has thick-rimmed glasses, roaming hands and one of those ridiculous shirts that is black but has a white collar and cuffs. Too vain to be fat, he’s somehow instead simply swollen, his body and character bloated, presumably, by years of no real work for too much money.
Tonight, he’s dining with his two favourite minions. Fanged little adders who slither their way through Soho doing his dirty little deeds. On Fridays, a big group of them come in for the team lunch. Working at an ad agency they’re all guff, gloating and bright clothing. Single colour T-shirts and big watches for the boys, ill-fitting onesies for the girls. They form a jungle-esque panoply of colour down the far wall of the restaurant, the one closest to the toilets. False lashes bat everywhere, making the place seem like a tropical butterfly house, if all tropical butterflies were wankers.
I’ve waited on The Boss dozens of times and it’s never been easy. He never says hello, never makes eye-contact and he’s always horrible. He’s so aggressive and calculatingly foul that like a comic book baddie, he must be crying inside. I picture him at home, naked in the mirror, sobbing at the sight of himself.
Today's performance seems like it'll be pretty standard. He’s on his feet. It’s taken half of Colombia but he’s finally convinced himself he’s the biggest swinging dick in the room. As we’re about to see, there’s no swinging, he’s just a dick: “Oi, waiter!” he shouts. “Where the fuck’s our food?”
I approach the table calmly.
“Where’s your food?" I say. "Sir, you ordered three minutes ago. Where do you think it is? It’s in the kitchen.”
My colleague places a bottle of champagne on the table next door. She tells me they’ve phoned ahead and asked for it to be open when they arrive. The Boss gives it his beady eye. “What’s that?” he yaps in my general direction. “Why haven’t we got some?” I explain that it’s champagne and that he doesn't have any because he hasn’t ordered any. “Well get us some,” he says. “We deserve it.”
“Yyyyeeaahh,” the minions chorus.
As I'm fetching the wine from behind the scenes I can hear them fiddling with something. On my return The Boss is smirking to his cronies, who avoid my eye and the pre-ordered fizz. It makes me wonder. Shake ’n’ Vac, then put it back?
Pouring their drink I realise they were never offered water. I ask The Boss apologetically if he’d like tap, still or sparkling? “Whatever,” he says, shooing me away with a waft of his hand. I tell him this only really works if he chooses. He rolls his eyes. “Sparkling. Alright?”
There’s commotion behind me and little Farruh our Uzbek runner comes flying down the stairs. The pre-order table have arrived and the manager’s bringing them to the table while Farruh readies the bubbles.
Pouring the water, I ask The Boss what they’re celebrating. Swelling with pride he stands again, thrusts his glass in the air and guffaws that they won Best Ad Campaign Ever at the Whocares Media Awards last night – BANG! Farruh’s cork hits him right in the kisser.
Farruh’s lost, he's swimming upstream. He tries to press his hand on top of the bottle but the pressure increases. An arc of champagne rises like a cobra and fires across the room. Farruh twists, wailing like a banshee: “AAAAAAAARRRRRGGGGHHHHH.....” It’s like 'Nam down here, everyone’s getting it. People are crawling under tables out of the line of fire, elaborately crafted hairdos have collapsed, booze drips from the ceiling and then woosh. Silence descends.
Through the fog of war a bloody gurgle drifts over from behind table 12. The Boss pulls himself up, his white collar dyed red. He spits out a tooth, landing it on the table next to two of its buddies. Perhaps I was wrong about the mirror at home, this man has never cried. Even now, covered in blood and hoisted by his own petard, he shows no shame. A caricature of disgrace. Looking me in the eye for the first time, he wipes his hand across his mouth, gobs on the floor, clenches his fists and says: “So, waiter, where the fuck is my food?”
Follow Max on Twitter: @lunchluncheon
Illustration by Thomas Slater.