Sunday, November 22, 2009

Children and Mad Men Think I'm Pretty

Today at work an older gentleman dressed in various shades of plaid and drab told me that he would come back to eat sometime, but only if I was working. He would have to call, he said. He told me that he was getting over a heart condition, that is, a woman had just broken his heart, and that it didn't hurt to see a pretty girl. I assured him that we have other pretty waitresses and he waved his hand dismissively and said, "They aren't hags or anything, but..." and proceeded to give me a long and dubious metaphor involving double-bagged groceries and how you don't really need two bags but it's good to have them in case the primary one bursts. I believe I was the primary bag. At some point he also wandered to the rear of the restaurant to commend the chef.
A few weeks ago I met a man named Jimbo who lives on the streets in my fair town. I met him on the street, actually, walking from the health food store to my apartment. He was carrot haired and beet faced and swayed a bit as he walked. Approaching him I could not help but admire the way he owned the sidewalk. We said hello in passing and he called me Sunshine and asked me for some change to help a brother out. I told him I'd just spent all my cash money at the grocery store, and after he assured me that was alright I moved on and he paused to let me get ahead before he continued his walk. Later that same day I ran into Jimbo again, on a different street some miles from our earlier encounter. "Sunshine!" he hailed me, a grand bellow full of gravel and oboe, "Marry me! You are beautiful!" "Not today!" I returned, feeling every bit a Sunshine.
The day after Halloween I had the pleasure of serving a fairy princess, a Harry Potter, and their beautiful mama, who was herself dressed as herself. They ordered chocolate chip pancakes, sourdough french toast, eggs over-easy, fruit, and grits. The fairy princess ate only bacon and did so with tiny bites from baby teeth and pinkies out, like a lady. As I asked if they needed anthing else, the fairy princess hid her face in her mama's tummy and her mama said, "It's alright, you can tell her." The little girl looked up at me, her eyes like sugared gumdrops in her berry face and whispered, "I think you're pretty!" and then quick! back to the safe dark hide-away of mama's blouse. I blushed and cut my eyes at Harry Potter, who gave me a wicked chocolate grin.
People's eyes are as variable and unreliable as shop-store windows. In some we are tall and thin and young forever, and some cast every awful angle in sharp and haggard relief. I was once told by a manager that if I could not be cute, I would have to be good to cut it in the serving world, and I took that to heart. It's true, I'm not cute. I wear black framed glasses and have severe hair, which I call my Frida Kahlo hair. My bosom is small and my bras perpetually ill-fitting with straps that tend to slide off my shoulders and peek out my short sleeved black t-shirts. When I am thinking of a lot of things at once (which I am always doing while serving) I scrunch my lips and furrow my brow. However. Children and madmen think I am beautiful, and if anyone in this world can speak the truth as it springs flashing from the mind to the mouth it is the insane and the very very young. And if the man is not only mad but also drunk? Oh my, then it must be true.