It was a black-pantsed and white-shirted Saturday evening.
“Honey! Honey! Could you grab me another plate from the back? I need a second salad plate.”
Could I? But of course! There are, after all, four of us working this room of 160 people. Who wouldn’t want to get you a second plate? People so often forget to fill up a second or third salad plate…
“Do not listen to this man,” the man sitting next to him says. He smiles at me, handsome with his black eyes and white teeth. “Do you speak Arabic?”
I admit that I do not.
A phrase using sounds not found in my own language rolls off his tongue. He says it again, perhaps hoping I will attempt it. Sadly, there is nothing for me to latch on to, no words I have heard before. I start laughing. Smiling, he translates: “He can stay at the table but he will not get a plate!”
Now there’s a phrase I could use in all languages.
Not that I mind running back to the kitchen for another plate, another fork. That’s what I’m paid for, and they are reasonable requests for the banquet hall of a church, after all, even if you require a second and third plate because you’ve used all the other crockery in order to offer those at your table plates of shrimp, of cheese and crackers, of grapes and strawberries.
Others may wish they had taken a few more shrimp, but not the folks at your table!
As an aside, do you know how hard it is not to pluck the succulent pink and white shrimp from those plates, how difficult it is to scrape them into the garbage pail back by the dishwasher? Almost as hard as it is not to run your finger along the edge of the dessert plate, where someone has scraped off the chocolate ganache…
Don’t think the dishwasher doesn’t see you eying those leftovers.
Michelle, the boss, is in the kitchen. “Hey, you ever talk to T anymore?”
“Sure. He’s working in a kitchen in Bradenton Beach, Florida now.”
“Next time you talk to him, tell him I’m gonna send him a picture of that bruschetta he asked for.”
“He wanted to see my bruschetta. Tell him I’ll send photos after work.”
Hmm. Photos of bruschetta? I think that may be code for something. Sounds dirty. But what are you gonna do? She’s the boss.
“I’ll let him know.”
It was a marathon of an evening, clearing tables and running from one end of the hall to the other and by the end of it, when your spine has been compressed and you are three inches shorter than you were when you started, when your legs are threatening to cede from the body union, and specifically, when there’s cash, what do you do?
You go out.
Time to relax.
Erin, Minh, and I went to the Spring for, and I quote, “a drink”.
And three women wearing the same outfit and a collective pony-tail-holder indent in their hair turned one drink into, um, five.
Envision, if you will:
Three women, after the second drink, flashing their “You been served, baby!” gang signs (the palms-up, invisible-drink-tray posture of the International Serving Class).
Three women, heads together, sharing alternately shouted and whispered stories of sex, fashion, intrigue, and politics.
Three women, solving the world’s problems and once again failing to take notes.
Three women, tipping heavily.
It was the night you hope you’ll have but cannot plan for: we came, we saw, and in the words of Erin: We killed it, man; we really killed it.
You been served, baby.
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