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.
It’s a beautiful night.
...In Which I Introduce The Adjective "Penish"
55 minutes ago