For three summers, I waited tables at a famous dim sum restaurant owned by my girlfriend's family. The job was easy enough: The customers came in big parties, and I was expected to adopt the brusque hospitality of the entirely Chinese staff. Even though I was the only white boy working there, the staff treated me well. I got along especially well with the two dwarf busboy brothers who, despite their small stature, could run circles around anybody in the business. We were the youngest guys working there and would often take extended breaks out back for beers and smokes.
My last summer there, we got in the habit of loading up on Dexedrine before the dinner crush. One particular evening, I was flying high when the hostess, speaking barely a lick of English, told me that I was getting "a six-top of movie stars." As I ground my teeth and imagined who these celebrities might be, a jumble of forty-somethings led by an obvious fixer settled around my table. There was a handlebar mustachioed man, a baby-faced beer swiller in a cowboy shirt, a fat, chain-smoking German guy, a fast-talking American woman, and—my personal favorite—a brash British lady who downed cosmos. She became loud and obnoxious when her soup wasn't delivered.
Nobody had any clue who these "movie stars" were, yet every time I approached the table, their faces seemed more and more familiar. After they finished their appetizers, the woman in charge took out an agenda and stood up, saying, "First, I want to say that Gene is sorry he couldn't make it tonight..."
As I cleared plates, the kitchen doors swung open and my favorite tiny busboys rushed in from a smoke break to help. Then it hit me and all of the hairs stood up on my arms—I was standing in front of the original cast of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory minus Gene Wilder! The excitement, hilarity and incredibly large dosage of amphetamines almost caused me to have an aneurysm right on the spot.