Annie, a Polish matron with boyish looks and a capacity for hard work, led our team of waitresses during this period. It wasn't long before all of our waitresses were Polish.
The combination of Vietnamese paratroopers in the kitchen and Polish waitresses out front led customers to suggest that we must be a front for the CIA.
My own brush with international intrigue came when I hooked up with Heidi (not her real name), a beautiful German girl.
I'd seen her around, admired her looks, and one evening she was in Tricky Dick's all alone as I was preparing a launch to the pubs. I asked if she'd like to join me and she said sure. After several hours out, we drove to my place and got high.
Heidi became giggly and started talking about what she was doing in London. She wasn't an au pair like the others in her circle of Swiss-German friends, she told me. More giggling. Heidi said she worked for a terrorist group and was part of a two-person advance team; the senior partner was also German, male, in his 40s, and they shared an office north of London. Neither knew the other's real name or home addresses.
Heidi became hesitant, but then her tongue loosened and she said they were loosely associated with the Red Army Faction.
Her role, she added, was strictly "research and information"; her work in London almost complete; she and her partner had received marching orders to Lagos, Nigeria, and would depart in a few weeks.
Next morning, Heidi said, "For the benefit of both of us" I should forget her story.
I didn't push it. I knew she'd return to Tricky Dick's and we'd pick it up again.
That was the greatest thing about my restaurant: it was my social life. I never had to go out to seek people, see friends. They all came to Tricky Dick's.
Sure, I'd go to the pubs, mix it up with whoever was around, but Tricky Dick's was the hub. And anyone I wanted to see would eventually turn up, and if they didn't, someone else would.
That doesn't mean to say I was fulfilled. I knew I had to grow up eventually; transcend the unreality that was Tricky Dick's, a kind of college where I was majoring in sociology.
But working nights was getting old. I started looking forward to a time when I could work days, like most normal people, and have my nights free. Part of me still wanted to be a 9-to-5 bureaucrat with a briefcase. I was still naive. I wanted to be a journalist; see my name in print, get an ink fix at least once a month.
Back to Tricky Dick's, and Heidi, who returned a week later.
We went out again, finishing back in my place. She claimed to have inadvertently discovered that those who controlled her terrorist group were vastly different, in appearance and motivation, than the scruffy, idealistic young terrorists executing the program.
Heidi told me that her group planned to blow up an airliner in flight a month later, sometime during the first week of December (this was 1977). The precise day and flight had already been determined.
I took her only half seriously; it was so far-fetched; like, sure, a 22 year-old wannabe reporter is really going to hear this stuff from a voluptuous German girl... If I believed it, I told myself, it was because I wanted to believe it.
I humored Heidi, told her we had to try to stop it from happening: I was suddenly in a movie, I was the good guy, my dialog riddled with cliches, and Heidi said the guy running the operation was in Stockholm and only he knew the details. And that if she called him and asked questions, he'd get suspicious; and if he told her and it leaked, she'd be dead.
Next day I drove Heidi to a German merchant bank and she collected a wad of banknotes, the expenses, she said, for first-class seats to Lagos.
During the first week of December, a Japanese Airlines 707 blew up over Malaysia.
Heidi never reappeared in Tricky Dick's.