Published earlier this month, Sara Barron’s book People are Unappealing, Even Me is what happens to a bildungsroman in the Craigslist age. It follows the author on a mad-as-hell/not-taking-it-anymore complaining spree through the dregs of thankless, low-wage jobs. Along the way, Barron makes several keen observations about the strange things people do, and also manages to canonize John Stamos as “the most flawless man who has ever lived,” which had to be done by somebody. We asked her primarily about a waitress-nightmare story told in one of the book’s chapters, which recently garnered the author some major Page 6 column space: Up until recently, Barron worked at a restaurant not-to-be named (she calls it, simply, “Hell”) where she had the opportunity to wait on a rock star who didn’t tip after an epic and fully comped, after-hours meal (for 19 people total) that dragged on until 5 a.m. No longer a waitress, Barron is the host of The Moth; her next gig is March 30 at The Bitter End.

One chapter of People are Unappealing relates your experiences at the restaurant called Hell, and the appearance of a celebrity customer who's known to millions now as “Twat Waffle.” Can you explain how this nickname came to be, and what your experience was with this Twat Waffle character? My pleasure, truly. Twat Waffle is the very famous front man of a very famous band, also the best friend of the celebrity chef—I call him “Luigi”—for whom I was employed for many years. The long and the short of it—and read the book for the ‘long’ of it; there are soooo many Twats involved! And so many waffles!—is that there’s an occasion wherein I’m forced to wait on him and his entourage at an after-party that forces me into a fourteen hour workday, Twat Waffle isn’t charged a cent for his $2000 meal, and he fails to leave a tip.

That’s unfortunate. But it’s typical celebrity-diner behavior, sadly: they arrive after-hours, which, again, always forces a significant portion of a staff into a significantly longer workday, for line cooks who already average 12 hour days, and they don’t get a check. Why charge a multi-multi millionaire for the product he consumes, when the money could be used instead to, let’s just say for the sake of example, raise the wages for all the line-cooks and dishwashers forced to make do at the poverty line, right?

Makes sense to me. Since they don’t get a check, they’re under the impression that they needn’t leave a tip either. This is exactly what Twat Waffle did. And it’s Luigi who enabled him.

But the nickname? Oh! And the nickname: my Twat Waffle experience wasn’t atypical, apparently, and according to a co-worker who’d worked at “Hell” longer than myself, the last time he’d come in, he demanded blueberry waffles at 3 a.m. To which a line-cook said, “Fucking waffles.” And the on-duty waiter responded, “Fucking Twat.” And so it was.

You've chosen not to identify the chef, restaurant, and customer in the book, but it's commonly believed you were writing about Batali, Babbo, and Stipe. Care to comment?

What's your favorite R.E.M. song? I have two: Shiny Happy People and also Everybody Hurts. I listen to them at the same time while masturbating to the idea of Michael Stipe masturbating to the idea of Mario Batali masturbating to the idea of Gwyneth Paltrow.

What's your favorite R.E.M. song that doesn't exist and what would it be called? It would be called “Besties4evs,” and it’d be about celebrities who spontaneously combust when they try and be friends with people who aren’t famous.

After having worked bars and restaurants for tourists [Olive Garden and Coyote Ugly, both of which are in the book] and restaurants for celebrities and people who don't eat [the pseudonymous Hell], I imagine that you're soured on dining in general. People these days are writing about things like "the death of fine dining" and about the sad, superfluity of restaurants. I was wondering if you thought there was any point to restaurants at all? In light of everything, I do think there’s still a point to it; I still find one of my favorite activities to be eating out, in good company, and so greatly appreciate the art of good food and good service. My problem lies instead with those diners who lose sight of just exactly this sort of appreciation, for whom such evenings out become routine. This habit of being catered to inevitably morphs people into rude, entitled disasters. I don’t think I’ll ever recover from how uncommon it is for most adults to say “please.” Or “thank you.”

What's your favorite place to drink? I like bars—and I swear to sweet Jesus, I’m not saying this just as a laugh line; I really, really mean it—with lighting dark enough to hide what used to be my acne but has recently become my sun damage. So, dimly lit places. I love Zablozki’s in Williamsburg, International Bar in the East Village. If I’m being strong-armed into a night of Fancy/Shmancy, I’d say Death and Co.

What's next for Sara Barron?
First, I plan to try and get famous, then do lots of interviews wherein I talk about how I wish I wasn’t famous. On the off-chance this falls through, I will no doubt keep waiting tables as I work on my second book tentatively titled, People are Jerks. This one addresses subjects as diverse as sing-a-longs, arson, sac-lunches, the word ‘panties,’ marijuana on a first-date, and also, hand sanitizer.

What prompted your move to New York? I had this really bizarre and wholly original idea that I was going to make a career for myself as an actor. I’d purchased a beret, a pair of jazz shoes and a book of contemporary monologues for women, and was shocked when a five-figure annual income managed to elude me.

Which New Yorker do you most admire? All the ones who—in the context of eating out—know to use the words “Please,” and also “Thank you.”

Given the opportunity, how would you change New York? I’d make it legal to sucker-punch the people who 1) get into a subway car before letting the current riders off, 2) wear non-prescription, large-frame hipster glasses, and 3) bother the homeless people sleeping on the subway.

Under what circumstances have you thought about leaving New York? There was this one day in 2004 in which it took me two hours to get from my then Park Slope apartment to a birthday party in Astoria which was technically six miles away. The commute back also took two hours, and when I finally got home I turned on my kitchen sink so as to fill up my Brita, and a cockroach flew out.

Best cheap eat in the city.
La Caracas on 7th street between 1st and A. No cockroaches in faucets there. Just very delicious arepas.

Please share your strangest "only in New York" story. I was once vertically spooned by a midget in an East Village bar. I could feel his boner in my knee. Additionally, I dated a man when I was in college, and when I ran into him years later in the Union Square subway station, he’d be working as a clown. And not the Barnum and Bailey’s sort. The sort that, you know, digs through the garbage cans in the subway so as to find new props that he can juggle.