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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Three Servers On a Bed of Arugula with an Exhausted but Rather Amusing Dipping Sauce

When the opportunity arises to serve, one, of course, serves. Black pants, legs creased sharply; white shirt starched to an exactitude rarely seen outside of the military; sturdy black shoes that say “I shall remain on my feet until called upon to do otherwise, madam.”

Hello. My name is Pearl. May I refresh your drink?

I take you back to last Saturday night, where you are to picture me smiling and deferential.

Paulie was there.

Paulie’s a star, you know.

“We filmed for a week,” he says, arranging the shrimp-wrapped scallops on a tray. “It’s going to be on TV this spring.”

King of the grill, maker of spoon-licking-good dressings and sauces, drinker of vodka and one snappy dresser, Paulie will represent Nye’s Polonaise on an upcoming episode of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.

“Not that it will affect how I treat you,” he says, casually, a regal wave of his hand encompassing us all. “Hey, which one of you wants to rub my temples whilst I whisk?”

We laugh. Because that’s what you do when your chef makes demands. You laugh.

Being in the presence of a budding celebrity, however, does not affect the job at hand. Gol’ dang it, people, we have jobs to do! We can’t just stand around, feeding Paulie peeled grapes and massaging his various roasts and loins!

Saturday evening’s job was a private party in a home large enough to comfortably hold a dinner party of 17.

We served, and we served well, Mary, Min, and I being the very face of cheerful diligence. We served, filled, delivered, removed, scraped, stacked, and hauled.

And then we wiped and swept our way out the front door and into the brittle expanse of stars wheeling overhead. It was shortly before midnight when we stepped out the front door. We had been on our smiling, running feet for seven hours.

“I think my spine has been compressed. Do I look shorter to you?”

I look over at Mary, who is sitting under the pile of blankets I keep in the car for those awkward moments before the heater kicks in – roughly from November to April.

“Yes,” I say.

She moans softly. “Do your feet hurt?”

“They hurt so bad that I think they might be your feet.”

She sighs. “Still,” she says, looking up through the windshield, “it’s a beautiful night, isn’t it?”

I lean forward, gaze up through the windshield. We are far enough away from the city that the stars are a brilliantly winking sea of bright white and blue lights.

She’s right.

It’s a beautiful night.


the walking man said...

Did a job, made some cash, got your feet to hurt and saw a beautiful night. Now about Paulie...reminds me of a feline stew recipe I had once.

Pearl said...

the walking man, hey, with the proper sauces... :-)

vanilla said...

Well done. Massage the feet, curl up and relax.

mybabyjohn/Delores said...

The sweat and tears behind you, cash in the pocket of those black pants and a panorama of infinity spread out before you. You earned the right to enjoy the sight.

Camille said...

A job well done and tired feet to prove it!

Ah yes, the Chef as a personality. It brings back ancient memories of a middle-aged and particularly lascivious Chef named Hector. Every night we waitressess would turn up and ask for his dinner specials and every night his reply was always the same: Tube steak...smothered in underwear. Oh Hector! I wonder if he ever managed to capture a sweet young thing with that line.

Deborah said...

When will that be on?

I love Nye's like a bad child.

SherilinR said...

for some reason i never remember to keep blankets within reach of the driver's seat in my vehicle. why do i leave them in the trunk where they're only available for emergencies?
you're such a good little server lady with your happy smile and sturdy shoes.

Glen said...

“They hurt so bad that I think they might be your feet.”

Great line!

When I was inthe Navy - so very long ago - times were often pretty tense and pants - then you'd pop out onto the upper deck in the night, and just sit there looking at the universe - and everything was cool.

Scarlet Blue said...

So long as you didn't have to massage Paulie's meat balls... that would be going beyond the call of duty.

Kara Muller said...

I wish I were there - not serving or cooking,(I do enough of that now) - but as a guest at a house large enough to hold a dinner party of 17 with a hired chef and wait staff!

Shelly said...

Paulie should take his little whisking fingers to your feet. Sounds like a job well done!

Hey- I got your book yesterday and read the whole things in one sitting. LOVED it!

Joanne said...

i just remembered the feeling! I'd torn down the show, loaded the thousand pounds into my van, one last walk to the john, then collapse on the driver's seat and take in the night before I started driving home. With money. It was a good feeling all around.

Pearl said...

Mary has just reminded me that the original title of this piece was to have been "Every Time a Server Gets a Twenty, an Angel Gets Her Wings".

Shoot. I blew it.

Symdaddy said...

Been there, served it, licked the bowls!

I've waited many a regimental dinner where no one is allowed to leave the table until the Colonel (or visiting big-wig) get's up to leave.

All I can say that after waiting at such an event, when you are footsore and weary, in need of an alcoholic pick-me-up ... beware the warm brandy decanter!!!

jenny_o said...

Seven hours is a long time to be running and smiling. I remember a weekend where I was on my feet for a good portion of Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday - by Sunday night I could feel every one of the little bones in my feet so badly I couldn't go to sleep even though I was exhausted...

I love both titles; the one you used is extra-original, though :)

Friko said...

I hope you got paid shedloads of cash.

Tom G. said...

Wasn't the full frozen moon just absolutely gorgeous this weekend? I stood on the porch waiting for the dogs to do their business, thinking the exact same thing.

It was a beautiful night.

Eva Gallant said...

For the first time in my life, I have a car with heated leather seats and a remote starter. I'm in heaven!

The Elephant's Child said...

Ouch: Feeling for your feet, but glad it was a beautiful night (note) to finish on.

Roshni said...

I hope the celebrity chef at least laughed at YOUR jokes!

Cloudia said...

Walking Man with the right sauce for 10, alex!

Aloha from Waikiki

Comfort Spiral

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Sush said...

Meh...chefs and their 'tudes'. My sister lost her rotator cuff carrying trays while waiting on tables. Please taake god care of yourself!
Did you see any meteors while you were star gazing?

Dawn @Lighten Up! said...

"Brittle expanse of stars overhead"
You are a brilliant writer, my friend. :)

Dave King said...

Getting there in the end - that's the main thing! A most enjoyable post. Thanks.

Linda O'Connell said...

By the time the last one of the thirty leaves our house on Chrismas day, which ends up being NIGHT, I feel the same way you do. My compensation is not money, but a bouncing rotund metal chef, a box of chocolates,some Dolalr store gadgets and a bunch of hugs and kisses...all the same, I love it as much as you do. The pay off is different.

IndigoWrath said...

Hey Pearl! Seven hours?! Good grief, was it a wedding?! Or did they lose the body on the way to the funeral? Indigo x

Suldog said...

My Aunt, bless her, was a waitress (or server, if you will) for about 30 years, so I know the sorts of tales you tell and empathize, having seen her after shifts. Bless you. Folks like you make so many people happier!

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

A chef couldn't manage without his wait staff any more than a doctor can manage without his nurses. Fun post. Thanks for visiting my blog, dear lady. It was a pleasure to return the favor.

jabblog said...

A brilliantly starry night is a gift but I hope you were also well-recompensed for seven (SEVEN!!!) hours on your feet. Ouch!

Susan in the Boonies said...

You earned that beautiful sight, after a hard day's night, didn't you?


You're a hard workin' girl, PearlieMay, you, and Mary!

Kristy said...

The simple pleasures! You captured that beautifully.