—“2107 Curious Word Origins, Sayings & Expressions from White Elephants to a Song Dance” by Charles Earle Funk (Galahad Books, New York, 1993).
For almost 4 fun-filled, but sometimes stressful angst-ridden years, I worked at the Hard Rock Cafe at Universal Studios in Hollywood, CA. At the beginning of all most every shift, there was a pre-shift meeting. If you've worked in a restaurant, you are familiar with "pre shift". Usually the comically chaos would begin during this meeting....a smart ass comment, a snicker, something ridiculous. it would then stream out of the pre-shift and carry over into the shift and sometimes setting the tone for it. Sometimes, the laughter was the only thing that would get you through a shift....especially during the busy summer tourist season.
We were each others' barrel of monkeys. Kelly was my partner in crime who I got hired so we could work together (which sucks cuz they forced her to work my shift the night they canned me), Jason would make sexually harassing comments or insult the piss out of me and I'd throw it right back. Lisa would offer some sarcastic comment that would bust you up with laughter when you wanted to kill everyone in sight (though she probably would've told me where to hide the bodies and then helped me bury them), John C. would just say "ah fuck it, let's go get a drink and relax", Tina would just talk sports with me to calm me down when someone stressed me out, Adrienne would be all Pollyana hopeful ray of sunshine (sometimes you need that) and John W. would just try to offer some calming perspective.
The cast of characters were varied....you had everything from tattooed, pierced and mohawked to sweet-as-pie all-american girl-next-door along with everything in between (I was one of the rare non-tattooed but I went crazy with the hair & makeup at times. No, the MAC cosmetics counter didn't explode on my face. I spent time doing this to myself.) These barrel of monkeys made working there fun.
It's been about 5 years since i was (in my eyes) unjustly & unfairly relieved of my duties at the Hard Rock. I was crushed and devastated when it happened, but my barrel of monkeys (who had become my circle of friends) rallied around me & proved to me that true friends don't leave you when shit gets bad.....Kelly checked up on me constantly & she also kept me in the loop with the restaurant gossip, helped me pick out outfits for job interviews, etc. Jason talked me out of giving up and moving back to Ohio along with all the other various panic attacks and hypothetical ledges he talked me off of), Lisa....she kept my spirits up, again with the sarcasm...she even took me out to eat a few times when i didn't know where my next meal was coming from because all my unemployment was denied and all my money was going to pay rent/bills. John C & Adrienne (who were dating) would have me meet them for a beer or just encourage me. Tina....she would help me find job opportunities or just come over and watch tv with me (cuz she was also my neighbor). She also eventually helped me land the weekend gig I have now. She was also my ranting rock because she got unfairly canned as well so we would vent together. John W. went so far as to bring me smoothies and water while I waited hours in lines on the hot & sunny sidewalks of Hollywood for open call job interviews in the heat of summer (ugh, the worst! worse than any casting cattle call i've ever been on)
They also stuck around later that year when my modeling agency dropped me, when i found out that my father had terminal cancer, the whole time he was sick & when he passed away & my mental breakdown from grief i had after his passing. Some of them I don't see as much as I'd like & some have moved away (which breaks my heart but I know they are happy where they are), but these monkeys are as loyal as the dog sitting next to me while I'm writing this. Dear monkeys....I love you all and I'm so grateful for the laughter, joy and support that you have brought into my life. You are not just the barrel of monkeys who brought me so much fun at a restaurant job, you are some of my best friends in the world. thank you.