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.

Humbling a Tuesday Hostess

I say: I’m sorry, did you just ask if this wine pairs well with beaver tail?

He says: Yep. Nice top.

You’re lucky I’m the kind one: I say.

This is 9:30 a.m.

It will be a ten minute wait for a party of four: I say.

Can we not sit there?: she asks, motioning to a table behind a divider over which she cannot see.

No. There are still are people eating at that table: I say.

It does not look like anyone is there: she says.

I smile. It is much easier for me to seat people and not run a wait list.

I promise I would seat you if I could: I say.

She finally attempts to confirm her assumption by walking around the divider.

She sees two people still seated and eating.

It looked empty from this side: she said

In realization.

Thank you for your patience: I say.

Would you like the table by the window (sic. best table in the house)? I ask.

I know how you do. Sit me here so the place looks busy, right?: she asks.

I’d wanna sit here if I were eating: I say.

I realize she is joking with me, by virtue of her kind reaction.

I stop. Let myself take a deep breath. Let her see myself smile

In realization.

One of those mornings: I say.

Shelia and Don arrive.

I am Dimples to Shelia today.

I get a hug and a kiss on my cheek.

You are my surrogate granddaughter: she says.

My heart feels warm.

A Hostess Double Hum

The beach preservation, busy body society returns for the weekly dish.

Silver hair happy hour but with coffee and tea only.

As lively and loud as any bar at midnight.

Eight women and four men.

I hear battle stories of having both hips replaced.

Today, the one tops speak few words to me, if any.

They lead me to the table they want.

The sun shines on the new mural in the alley across the street.

I see it through the reflection of a storefront window.

Suddenly, a silver hair exclaims: that’s what panties are for!

I turn away to lose myself in a laugh.

She says: I’d like a half glass of water with no ice.

Okay.

Early afternoon and the stranger birds arrive.

It is like summer in full swing.

People eat later.

Packs of wild children roam the streets like feral dogs.

B. and L. come in. I never remember them until they lead me to their spot.

Table 13.

One water and one merlot.

Oh yeah. I knew that.

The 4 o’clock hour. Brutally slow.

A man passes by on the sidewalk wearing a large ring on each finger.

I must be in a mood as I find it strangely attractive.

“If you were any younger I’d be worried about you.” I hear server J. say.

I ask what that was about.

“Oh, he produced a full-sized screwdriver out of his pants pocket and surprised himself. It’s what happens when you are nearly a hundred years old.”