After days of varying sobriquets
[Dimples, Goldilocks, Curly Sue, At the Bat]
Amber Eyes has become my daily moniker to Shelia and Don.
She grabs me, everyday, this intense mid-eighty year old lady.
Everyday, she grasps my face between her palms,
holding my cheeks to keep my head still.
She pushes her face inches from mine
and stares into my eyes.
As if to make sure that I am who I appear to be.
Are the eyes, in fact, amber?: I swear I cam intuit her asking herself,
I take a deep breath, knowing what will follow: secrets.
Heavy ones. Ex-drama teachers seem to always have them.
It is 9 a.m. and I still force myself to meet her eyes and listen.
A man arrives.
Single diners can be sensitive.
Especially when a restaurant hostess says: just one today.
So, I do not say this.
Hi. Good to see you. How can I help?: I say.
He takes my hand as he removes his sunglasses.
He speaks with an accent I cannot identify.
I hear him say: I’d like a date.
Pardon?: I ask. Hand still in his.
I’d like to eat: he says motioning to his mouth.
I can help with that. Right this way: I say, leading him to the bar,
hand still held by his.
There is one elder lady at the bar.
He sits five seats away from her.
She collects her things and leaves.
I think nothing of it.
“I love you,” server J. says.
I know: I tease: but what makes you tell me?
You made the racist leave: she says.
Huh?: I am confused.
That was the woman from yesterday. The one who I told you the story about. She took off when she saw him: she says with a big smile.
It was Mother’s day a year ago when this woman revealed her ignorance. Well before I started working here. The story was worse than any I had witnessed in Alabam’.
Point her out next time, so I can tell her we don’t serve her kind here. Many of these old white folks, all look the same to me: I say, not joking.
I get cut when the rush dies.
I stop by the hardware store to buy a pint. Jane is working. She is my favorite.
You must be done working. It’s good to get off your feet: she smiles.
Aww, you remember me. That means a lot.: I say and mean.
We meet so many people.: she says.
Yup. Ya know I worked from a chair, in front of a computer, for many years. Turns out I’m better, happier, on my feet. Plus, I am a bit reclusive. It’s good for me to talk to all these people: I say.
We are all actors. You and I are good ones because we are authentic.: she says.
I freeze at her gravity. I look into her eyes. In silence.
You know me. I appreciate you. I also appreciate your help today.: I say.
I exit and feel energy coursing.