Call Me Cato

If you ever come to a family gathering, don't be surprised if some of my cousins are calling me Cato.  It's been a nickname of mine since I was around 7 or 8 and started working at my grandparents restaurant.  

  The restaurant was named El Bandido.  It had pretty typical Tex-Mex style cuisine, complete with enchiladas, tamales, chile rellenos, etc.  Did I mention I'm half hispanic?  It was probably because I was so young, but the area of the restaurant where people ate always seemed huge to me. Funny enough, there used to be these miniature TV's at every table.  Your could insert 10 cents and watch TV while you ate.  I remember that when you entered the back area where the kitchen was, there was an office filled to the brim (it seemed like), with paperwork and several massive garbage cans with freshly made tortilla chips right next to it.  In the kitchen I have three memories: one of a massive prep table, another of an industrial washing machine, and lastly, one of the biggest cheese graters EVER.  You could literally put massive blocks of cheese in it, and this machine would grate all of it, no problem.   Well, like I said, I was a working girl at the restaurant.  I was paid $10/hr (which was an INSANE amount in the mid nineties), and I could keep the tips off the tables I cleaned.  My shift was on Wednesdays, after school.  I LOVED it.  Sometimes, I got to work with my oldest cousin, Lisa.  Her and I were buddies.  She is still the only person to have made me laugh so hard while drinking that liquid came out of my nose. Lisa said that at the restaurant, I would always somehow sneak up behind her and was suddenly there.  Kinda like Cato from the Pink Panther.  I must have done it often because she decided that Cato would be my nickname from now until forever.  The name stuck, and here I am at 34, still called Cato.  

  After my grandparents sold our restaurant, people would still ask me about it.  It was really popular.  I drive by our restaurant every once in a while and have seen it change hands several times.  Currently, it's an Indian restaurant.  But I love that the building has stuck around.  It makes me smile every time I pass it.  

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