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.

Sweeping up

Sweep me off my feet.:he said.

This was different.

The difference between breathless and breathlessness.

I could set fruit on you.

I’ve been dreaming of restaurant work. Not stress dreaming.

The other night I was seating songs on the dining room floor.

Color swirls and wave patterns that

you could not

visually perceive yet

you still see

And, they made hummin’ noises.

Dreamy little lilts that were not parts of the songs they represented.

I just got off a great yawn of a breath.

Imagine the inconceivable: you say.

Well,: I say: gladly, assuming you recognize

you have requested i prove gödel’s sentence g

[trans. The very constructs of the query are technically

impossible to prove by the rules

enlivening the question as reasonable to me.]

I look up and

my neck cranes over my left shoulder,

to shudder and squint into the sun.

The moon will be in its place soon enough.

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.

Collected Strands

Restless a.m.

I

Ayes running through my mind’s eyes like little cottontails scrambling into the brambles.

Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

Robins bobbling around for worms.

The only animals appearing sleepy are tethered. A dog walking a human.

A clot of hair collects about a nail head that is pounded into the railing.

I suppose it is mine.

Strands tugged a’loose like feathers, after the daily ritual of:

arrive home, sit outside, and, let the waves down.

Like little feathers lost only to be reassembled into

a new configuration.

A merkin for the metal.

Hosting Flaneurs

The chill in the air smells like the last time I fell in love.

Knitted woolen leg warmers donned. Chestnut brown and unraveling from overuse.

My sister gave me three pairs, last year.

“You want, like, Flash Dance legwarmers for your birthday?” she asked.

“Yeah, I am standing on my toes these days.”

An hour ’til I walk to the restaurant.An hour of coffee, words, and nicotine.

I will pluck my heavy comforter (trans. duvet) from storage after work.

I seat a one top.

Coffee?: I ask

I insist on it: he says.

We have that in common.

No cream. Bring white sugar if you have it: he says.

White sugar?: I think.

Kat, do we have white sugar already on the table?: I ask, unsure what white sugar means.

Bleached sugar, you mean?: she asks.

Smiling, I say: dunno. He wants white sugar. Those words.

Well, we have raw sugar, nutrisweet, sweat n’ low, and truevia in packets on the tables. We have Splenda packets here, just in case. Brown sugar for breakfast…:

The dishwasher (who provided his own sobriquet [call me MC BlackCoffee: he told me, when I first started] ) interrupts her.

He wants this: he says, holding a shaker the size of two coffee cups stacked on top of each other.

What kind of sugar do you call this: I ask him.

The good kind: he says.

We need to reevaluate your nickname. Sugared coffee is not black coffee: I tease.

Don’t change the color, does it?: he nods, smiling.

Server T. touches my shoulder: the guy at table six has a book for you.

Oh, word. I was hoping he would make good: I say.

How do you know him? He wasn’t sure if you were the right person. Plus, you just seated him.: he says confused and a bit irritated I had let one guy sit at his four top.

I don’t know him. I didn’t recognize him: I reply.

He shrugs. I smile.

Two nights ago, I discovered this server knew philosophy as well as, if not better than, me. And, he discovered a coworker that could keep up with him. We had discussed the very book table six has brought me. He seemed happy.

~

I met table six when he came in for breakfast a few days before. I noticed him reading a Martin Gardner book.

I dig that guy: I say.

This seventyish year old man looked up at me. I recall one eye not opening all the way, although both eyes appear open today.

I found Hofstadter, Penrose, and Feynman through him: I say.

He stared at me.

He wants to be left alone: I think.

I walk away, after offering: I’ll leave you to enjoy.

As he left, he stopped by my hostess post and asked: how did someone your age find out about these guys.

Well, I was ten years younger in Alabama selling collegiate clothing in a boutique and I got very bored.

~

I go up to table six. He has brought me his second copy of Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, thoughtfully wrapped in plastic as it rains heavy. This was a gateway book for me and I lost my copy during my move from AL to WA. I am thrilled a copy has found it’s way back to me.

What kind of restaurant is this? You and my server is a philosophy graduate.: he says, looking quite serious.

One that is open to hiring ex-academic flaneurs: I joke.

I have him sign and date the book.

By the way, your server is also a third degree black belt: I mention.

~

Server T says: Don’t you think it’s funny we were just talking about that book the other night?

Ha, I am surprisingly unsurprised. Things like this happen a lot to people like us, don’t you think?: I respond.

Well, I think there would be some observer bias in such a thought: he says, quite rightly.

But, observer bias is unavoidable by definition because we are observers at every moment. What are your thoughts on metaphysics?: I push him.

I try to avoid metaphysics. Too messy.: he says, walking away.

Yeah, yeah. That’s what all you philosophers say these days. Too messy and too close to mysticism: I call out as much to myself as to him.