Period Pains – Homework (Peel Session)

No rights: homage.

/Do your homework/

/hand it in/

/do your homework/

/you can’t win/.

The newly hired, seventeen year old busser arrives for her fifth shift.

I have been training her; and, she is under the mistaken impression that she answers to me.

She walks up to me and says: I know I’m supposed to wear all black, but I felt like wearing green today.

She wears a lovely army-style green button down shirt.

Am I busted or does it really matter?: she asks.

Yeah, it matters: I laugh: They’re gonna make you go home and change, I bet, but talk to J.

J. sends her home to change clothes.

I think: she’s gonna fit in just fine, on this isle of misfit toys, if she can deal with wearing the uniformed colour.

A hallow on the high street.

I arrive at the restaurant through the back door.

I walk through the kitchen into the back office to drop off my coat and purse.

A book of poems by René Karl Wilhelm Johann Josef Maria Rilke sits on the employee table. I know it has been dropped off for me to take and read.

But, there is no note and no one says anything of it.

I do not bring it up.

The community blocks off the high street this evening.

No cars are allowed. Only hoards of costumed pedestrians.

The restaurant is booked. Chock full of reservations.

We are situated in the heart of the affair.

The previous owner, who retired two years ago arrives

to distribute candy with the new owner.

I introduce myself and

open with: so you released this place two years ago?

Yup. After twenty one years.: he shrugs.

Did you found the joint?

No. We inherited/bought it from the previous owners.

Was it called the same name when you took over, or did you change it?

Yup. It was called by the same name.

Do you want some hot tea to take with you? It is cold out there.

I want a glass of chardonnay at exactly seven o’clock, when this ends.

I make a sticky note reminder and post it where it will continue to catch our bartender’s eyes and thus,

Attention.

The seemingly ancient regulars begin arriving. None of the regulars made a reservation

for

Tonight.

Every reservation includes a note: window table requested.

Specters at a feast, watching the separate feast of the youngest generation,

through our looking glass.

The tables have been rearranged. The layout of the floor altered to allow more tables to be in front of the huge frame windows.

I intuit how unwelcomely our regulars perceive this change.

Understand the regulars eat every night here and have done so for over a decade.

Well, I suppose we’ll sit at this table. We want to watch the trick or treaters.: they huff, already walking towards the desired table.

In anticipation of this, i have placed placards on tables reserved for those who called ahead.

It bears their name and time of arrival.

I fear this one is reserved. I can seat you here or here. Anywhere there is no placard.

But, we never call ahead: they protest.

A lot of people did: I say.

I think: how do you not know what to expect tonight? You have been eating here for decades.

None of the reservations do I recognize.

The aura of the restaurant becomes maroon instead of its usual sunset orange.

{I hear a whisper say: tulpa.

I whisper: heyoka reads, tulpa.}

An exasperated, decorous but uncostumed, regular flags me over.

She and her companion dine with a couple I have not seen before.

[Trans. They planned to impress their friends here, this evening.]

She has been painstakingly doing panto. Craning her neck, trying desperately to espy the youngbloods in the street.

Yes, Misses ______?: I say.

I don’t know any of these people you have given the good tables to. All these people made reservations?: she accuses.

Yup. They all did. And, they all specified they prefer a window seat. You know, I don’t recognize any of them either, yet something led them here. Kind of magical, huh?

If those people leave, can we move to their table?: she responds.

Perhaps.: I allude, walking away.

These reservations are specters of the feast of the specters at the feast of future ghosts.

To them, i am tonight’s hostess.

Like them, I remember I have died before, will die again, and

I forget to remember it.

I will wake up.

I will fall asleep.

I will sleepwalk.

I will lucid dream.

I will remember to not forget that I am going to fail to remember

Again and again.

In delicious, concentric, Socratic circles,

Ever issuing out to the ether.

Efficient Efficacy

The lunch rush of the little restaurant passes by two p.m.

I feel a hand lightly touch my shoulder.

How does being driven to distraction feel?: he asks.

Like being hyper-focused yet still clicking the submit button and immediately realizing your digital letter included a typo.: I reply.

Most people include typos in their writing, these days.: he replies.

Not me.: I say.

So your precious words betrayed you?: he asks.

No, they were instructive as regards the affect of your distraction.: I say.

So, I am effective?: he teases.

At the least, the effect you produce in me is no affectation on my behalf: I concede.

And, I wonder: will it still swim in my stomach when I return to handle the dinner rush tonight?

Next Thing You Know…

No music rights: just homage to a soundtrackscape.

I am sick like dog: I say in my bestest, thickest Eastern European accent to the chef.

I am too ignorant to have a specific dialect, but the rasp in my voice is too deep to not enjoy, even if it hurts.

Ill since three a.m. The tasty haze of the deliciously grey day suits my fever.

Seven

a.m. texts go out.

1. The manager working.

I say: Ain’t well. Looking for a cover. If you don’t hear from me again, it means you guys are stuck with me doing my best.

I include exactly zero emoti-cons.

2. The potential covers.

I say: I’m sick. Host this morning?

No cover expected. Restaurant folk, generally do not rise before the early afternoon, at best, unless they are working. Were situations reversed, I would not come through either.

I sit on the patio and watch the day arrive between seven and eight.

Still and grey.

/Buckle up and endure, now, sweet thing./

I take puffs off my electronic nicotine machine, knowing full well it will help nothing.

My inhaler: I love calling it.

/Cancer for the cure/?

Ya know I can’t cite the source, but I recall a study saying folks are statistically more likely to prefer being shocked with a low charge, over sitting in a room, alone, in silence for fifteen minutes.

So I put on an album called electro shock blues.

I don’t mind stillness. I can shock myself with my own thoughts.

So who is the glutton for pain? The ones who like a bit of shock-pain because being alone is too painful or the ones who get off on stillness?

/well, hee hee hee hee/

/Next thing you know/ You’re eat’n hospital food/

I arrive to work. I am released and sent home after an hour. I think they wanted see if I would show up and try.

It’s good to have reasons to persevere and

over-come:

I say and i mean.

Because I get off on my intent to not let feeling bad make others feel bad or me feel worse.

Seems quite silly to say, as I put it into words now.

I am mostly light and love, but with a little bit of why-don’t-you-go-fuck-yourself for counterbalance.

Back home.

Bare beneath a grey robe.

Leg warmers over calves and most of my feet.

Earl Gray tea with a bit of cream and vanilla extract.

An American Werewolf in London Faux-Fog: I silently entitle the bootleg concoction, in homage of the traditional London Fog tincture.

Back on the patio.

The wind chops and dices the waters of

the Sound

into tiny, white-capped waves.

Little peaks of liquid mountains.

/What/

/What/

/I can hear you/

/I was…/

/Sing the one about the cat that’s always get’n wet/

Comes down the wires, from my tablet, into my Blue headphones.

I giggle.

Almost a double ewe.

The British invasion occured today, at the restaurant.
A delightful change of clientele in town for Birdfest.
Aside from the accent, the nearly, overly polite manners gave them away.
Along with the ability to smile and make kindly eye contact despite not having had their morning caffeine.
Who cares if they mean it.
Such civility for the sake of simple decency resonates with my Southern background. The South has little else to offer, currently. Hence, my leaving a few years ago.

(Serving people who have arrived to have their first cuppa in our dining room is always an intimate moment of raw honesty. Coffee, tea, or booze).

They enjoy my accent as much as I enjoy their’s. They laugh when I say ‘y’all’.”

I say it a lot. Habituated.

“Most practical pronoun in American English. Much better than ‘you all/guys’,” I tease.

Server P over hears this.
S/he snags me by my shoulder and, laughing, tells me, “I like ‘y’all’ as much as I prefer ‘they/them’!”

It makes me giggle. It makes me feel good to hear this.

Until today, coffee out ordered tea.
Eight to one.
We run out of tea pots to distribute, for the first time ever.

I convert our decaf urn to a simple pot of hot water, to meet the refill demands.

¤

A solo diner arrives.
I wave as I approach from the rear of the dining room, so he knows he has been espied and will be assisted as fast as my heels can click my steps toward him

“Oh gee, hi there. How are you? It is just me, I am afraid,” he says to the hostess (me) before she (me) has even greeted him.

I break into my you-are-dear-to-me smile, immediately.

He was not British, though he held the manners and demeanor.
He had me in age by at least one and a half decades.
Long lovely fingers, nearly sky eyes but not quite.
Like a mockingbird’s.
Like a seagull’s call, cackling at me, because I kept wanting to mistake him for someone else.
We swap a good moment.

He looks a bit bewildered when I tell him I can seat him at a table or he may sit at the bar.
I have put him on the spot and he does not know which he prefers. It makes him genuinely squirm a bit.

Most American folk are most happy to be asked for their opinion. People love to let you know that they think “this” about “that.”

“Tell you what, our best server is bartending today. You should enjoy her service. Let’s go the bar.”

He blushes, nods; and, again,
I want to mistake him for someone else.

I lead him to
seat 35, specifically.

I watch him as I work, this sweet, little, mockingbird.
He watches me working, when he thinks I am not looking, but my job here is to always be looking.
I watch him try to subtlety watch me.
I avert my gaze, at times.

Eventually, I can no longer refrain.
I walk over to him and say, “I just want you to know you have such beautiful eyes. Exceptional.”

He gives me a look of shock and discombobulated confusion.

I touch my palm to his shoulder and walk away.

‘Exceptional’ because he recalls someone shamefully impeccable.

Last Open Table: Trade Secret Talk

Hey Aimme, I only have table 18 open…: I say, hostessing.

Oh, the four top, newly remodeled to a three?: she says, jokingly but without a smile.

~

{trans: yeah, that guy that joined table 19, without a word, stole the fourth chair from table 18 and has blocked access to table 18.

/Some men appear to need to take up an unnecessary amount of space. The cunt in me thinks they are the same men who feel compelled to drive large trucks with flat beds they will never use/

Additionally, the small dining room of this restaurant is filled with only tables for two and tables for four. This makes table 18 a hot commodity to a hostess. Especially, a patient, thoughtful one working Sunday morning.

But, push has come to shove. I won’t run a waitlist for him, this joiner, unless my server says she thinks they deserve it.}

/some posers know how to tip/

~

[She should have been cut an hour ago.

We should have dropped to two servers already; but the gal closing told her: yeah, we could cut you if I wanted to work harder.

I overheard this. It disappointed; but, there may be reasons such a statement is more reasonable than it may sound to my ears.]

Am I cleared by you to do my thing with this guy: I ask?

She nods immediately. It is louder than words to my ears.

I wonder if she noticed I kept seating her out of rotation, when a table in her section became available. I made sure she did not lose a table because of the joiner.

I don’t mention this.

A table for three arrives.

One moment: I say, wearing a smile, for them alone, that says “I’m gonna let you in on a trade secret.”

I take two steps over to table 19 and begin with

a big, genuine (“here goes no-thing”) smile

{In a way it is my job to do so. /You see, hosti are notoriously flighty. /otherwise they’d be servers, right?/ giggle}

I say: hey there!

[I do panto, panto, panto, then a little soft shoe.]

{Sic. Hosti trade secret}

The entire family at table 19 laughs.

Me and the five year old are now waltzing in a tiny square.

The people standing, waiting, start laughing,

for a different reason.

We should get out of your hair: says the dad at table 19.

{This family had finished eating over an hour ago. We call such folk [campers].}

Well, I do need to get access to that table over there, to seat these fine folk: I say, motioning to actual humans waiting.

Table 19 kindly slide themselves aside while making small talk with the family I am about to seat at table 18.

I am now waiting on the waiting list.

The best kind of professional inconvenience, to me.

Table 19 leaves.

Table 18 is seated.

Thank you: says Aimme.

I am immediately and acutely overwhelmed by deja-vu.

I grab Aimme by the arm and say: I just got the most intense deja-vu I’ve felt in years.

Because, I experience the feeling not infrequently.

Because, Aimme is empathic, too.

Because, it feels so strong it calls into question scales of magnitude.

She stops.

You must be in the right place: she says before springing back into action.

I dig the gravity of her spontaneous response.

Over her shoulder, she calls out: thank you for making sure I got as many tables as the others.

Labouring in Unkind Kindness.

A day I play like Cool Hand Luke.

If you labo(u)r, you probably do not have Labor Day off.

You are probably extra busy with your labor, in fact,

because of all those non-physical labourers who do have the day off.

No judgement, just observation derived from experience as someone who has been on both sides.

This is pure assumption: I can tell if you have ever worked on your feet, by how you interact with me when I am running a waiting list for the restaurant.

Open secret x: I am the hostess. I want you happy.

Open secret x’: you will not piss me off nor will I say anything unkind.

You know why?

Because, nothing pisses cranky people off more than someone who will not take your anger bait.

Killing you with kindness quite literally, you silly folks.

This is where the Tao of Cool Hand Luke comes into play.

You trying to put me down on the ground?

I just keeping getting back up with a giggle and a smile.

I have been through far worse.

I can do it until you are uncomfortable.

Every now and then, I can even make you smile.

Score.

I appear daft. Too stupid to realize I am being insulted.

I appear sugary sweet, but I speak in a calm, deep, resonant voice.

Just so you get a grip on the power of my gravity.

Unkindly kind.