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.

Confluence of a hostess.

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.

[Serious(ly).]

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,

before proceeding.

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 smile.

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.

I smile.

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.

She grins.

I exit and feel energy coursing.

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.

The Undercutters: A Banana Nut Muffin Introduction.

“You look ridulous.”

“What? I’m in all black. Scarf for my face. A colorful leotard beneath.”

“Scoff. The Undercutters use bandanas, not scarves. You look like a server.”

“It is my day job. Quite similar to yours. In fact, I have seen you wear that top and those pants at work, girl.”

“Well, girl, all will become clear. We will probably end up running from the police. Now, here. Take this bin of banana nut muffins and hide in the alley while I set us up in front of the bakery. They open in fifteen minutes.”

“What the fuck are we doing here? Where did you get these muffins?”

“I stole them from this very bakery’s dumpster last night. It’s what they didn’t sell yesterday. Idiots even collected them up in the box you now hold, before throwing them out. They aren’t even dirty.”

“Per se.”

“Oh shut up and do what I asked you to. We are gonna be legends.”

“Only cuz I am curious. Also, no legend begins with a box of banana nut muffins.”

“Yeah. This will be the introduction to The Undercutters.”

“Like a prologue?”

“No. The prologue was yesterday’s conversation.”

“No one likes a story with too many opening vignettes. Especially ones about banana nut muffins.”

“Yeah, cuz they are gross. Thank god you wore such an embarrassing leotard under your cover. Stripping off the black clothing to reveal a leotard? That will become legendary when you run from the police.”

“Why are we worried about cops? That’s a bit distressing. Especially since you keep calling us Undercutters.”

“Oh stuff it dummy. And, please, we are The Undercutters. “Undercutters” just sounds stupid. Let’s get set.”

“I need to know: have we brought muffins to a knife fight?”

The Undercutters: Prologue

“I couldn’t get accreditation. I simply lack credibility.”

“Too damn incredible, eh?”

“Am I working too hard?”

“Harder than most.”

“Then have I diminished my own returns?”

“Maybe.”

“I have a business proposal: The Undercutters.”

“Go on.”

“Meet in front of the bakery at 8 a.m. tomorrow.”

“Okay.”

“Wear two layers of clothes. All black on the exterior, but colorful clothing beneath. Bring a bandana. We may wanna cover our faces.”

Translations for the Deaf.

Douglas Hofstadter wrote about Googel translate not too long ago.

As an American, foreign languages are not the priority of inner city schools, at least not the one I attended. Not, their fault either.

I failed Kiswahili enough times, in college, to blow the socks off of any Kenyan who I meet stateside.

Ninasema Casey.

No one speaks any “Swahili” here. Not enough to even make the general populace know the language is factually called Kiswahili.

Bless you, Bibi Jane. And, bless you end of term oral examiner.

Can I write my responses to your oral questions?: I asked.

No.: she responds.

Shit: I think.

I’ve worked in enough restaurants to learn functional Spanish and Kiswahili.

(A surprising number of Kenyan immigrants in B’ham, AL. Magic City

We got a Nemo walking in: Robert would call to his kitchen, at Tavern on the Summit, whenever a catch of the day ticket came through. Howlarious.

But fish don’t walk, Robert: I’d always say

[After dinner rush, in the alley, smoking a cig.

Me: I thought “fish” was “samaki” in Kiswahili.

Robert: No, dummy. Nemo, like the movie.

Howlarious.]

)

I listened to this show, just now.

A few phrases in foreign languages hooked my attention.

I connect to Catalan, Frisian, and Corsican.

Don’t ask why, because I don’t justly know.

I love playing with Translate ever since the Hofstadter article.

But, I don’t have friends like his, to give feedback on the intimacies of Translate’s inadequacies.

On a cru que les données allaient nous libérer: appears in type face on the screen behind the band.

I make haste to Translate.

To triangulate my linguistic location.

If the phrase is in Frisian it translates to: On a cru que les données allaient nous libérer.

It translates to itself.

If the phrase is in either French or Corsican it translates to: it was believed that the data would free us.

In Corsican, the same spellings translate to: where it’s raw than the others were waiting for release again.

Hot and beautiful. Both.

Désormais ton monde est ainsi fait: appears in type face on the screen behind the band.

I make haste to Translate.

To triangulate my linguistic location.

If the phrase is in Frisian it translates to: this is a ton of things to do.

If the phrase is in French it translates to: now your world is so made.

Howl.