I’m standing on the shore of a tropical island when a beautiful blonde, in a skimpy white bikini, emerges from the surf like Venus Rising from the sea. I admire her long legs as she sashays suggestively towards me.
“Hi,” she says breathlessly.
“Aren’t you that guy from the Waiter Rant blog?” she asks, beads of water glistening on her ripe full breasts like diamonds.
“Why yes – yes I am,” I reply suavely.
“I think bloggers are so sexy,” she teases playfully.
I’m at a loss for words.
Leaning forward Venus says, “Come here. I want to tell you something.”
I move closer. The girl’s eyes hint at mischief and delights beyond.
“You know what?” she whispers, her breath hot on my ear.
“What?” I reply, my voice getting hoarse.
“CAN I HAVE MORE MAPLE SYRUP PLEASE!”
Suddenly I’m yanked off Fantasy Island and thrown back into reality.
I’m working in a restaurant on Mother’s Day.
“Excuse me madam?” I say to the overly made up octogenarian on table twelve.
“MORE SYRUP!” she sputters testily.
What a quantum shift from imaginary bikini vixens.
“Right away madam,” I blurt.
After I deliver Granny her syrup I walk over to the hostess stand where a throng of people has gathered.
“How may I help you?” I ask – fake smile firmly in place.
“Eight people please,” a well dressed woman says.
“Do you have a reservation?”
“No. Do I need one?” She looks surprised.
“Madam, it’s Mother’s Day.”
“You need to find me a table.”
“I’m sorry madam but we have nothing available ’til nine o’clock.”
“That’s nine hours from now!” the woman gasps.
“I want a table.”
“I’m afraid I cannot accommodate your request,” I say
“Well, that’s what we need to do,” she counters.
I’ll bet she learned that phrase in assertiveness training.
“What ‘we’ need is a reservation,” I say with strained politeness.
The woman stares at me icily.
“Might I suggest the French restaurant down the street? They may have space available,” I offer.
The woman exits without saying a word. Oh well. If she loved her mother she’d have made a reservation.
I walk back down the aisle surveying the customers. Young mothers, celebrating their first Mother’s Day, laugh and pose for pictures with their newborns. The mothers of the teenagers, however, look like they’d rather be someplace else.
On table fourteen a middle aged woman is crying softly. I know the story. Her husband died last week. It’s her first Mother’s Day without him. Her twenty year old son gently tries to comfort her. He’s the man of the house now.
Suddenly a customer, a bald man, grabs me by the elbow.
“Gimme another Heinken,” he barks.
Normally being grabbed would elicit a withering stare. But since it’s Mother’s Day I’ve braced myself for amateur hour antics.
“But of course sir,” I say smiling; my cheeks beginning to hurt.
I return with the beer, the man’s sixth, and pour it into his glass. I mentally note that he has a really hairy chest. I also notice he’s not wearing an undershirt. How can I tell? His shirt is unbuttoned to his waist. Classy guy.
(Why do bald men always have so much hair everywhere else? One of life’s little cruelties I guess.)
“Excuse me. May I have more champagne?” Hairy’s hundred year old mother asks sweetly.
“Right away Miss,” I say.
“I’m an old lady. Don’t call me Miss,” the old mother says winking.
“Why Miss you don’t look a day over fifty,” I tease. It’s a lie. She knows it’s a lie. She eats it up anyway.
“Oh thank you,” she gushes.
This woman’s really old. It might be her last Mother’s Day. Next year her son’s carnation may change from red to white.
“Have a lovely Mother’s Day. You deserve it,” I whisper pouring the bubbly.
“Thank you young man,” she says. Savoring her champagne she looks upon her brood and smiles. Maybe she knows something I don’t.
Fourteen hours and 250 customers later it’s all over. The staff did a tremendous job. We get through the day with no major fuckups.
As I walk down the street, my knees aching, I bypass the Irish pub. I’m gonna treat myself. Tonight I’m heading over to Alain’s.
Alain’s is the French restaurant down the street. Fluvio and Henri, the owner of Alain’s, can’t stand each other. But their mutual dislike never stopped the staff from getting along. They serve fresh homemade potato chips instead of pretzels and they have Fischer beer on draft. I like Fischer beer.
“So how was YOUR day,” I say mockingly as I sidle up to the copper sheathed bar.
Manny, the Egyptian born barman shakes his head and slides a schooner of beer towards me.
“The worst,” he says.
Robert, my opposite number at Alain’s, comes and sits next to me. He looks drunk.
“How’d it go?” he asks.
“Did you ever read Heart of Darkness?” I reply.
“Did you see Apocalypse Now?”
“Yes,” Robert says breaking into a smile.
“The horror. The horror!” I moan.
“That good huh?” Robert asks.
“Thank God it’s over,” I exhale.
“Say, you didn’t send that bitch with the eight top my way this afternoon?”
“Moi?” I reply grinning, “Certainly not.”
“Asshole,” Robert says without rancor. He’d do the same thing to me.
We stare into our drinks silently for a few minutes.
Suddenly a resolution sparks within me.
“This is the last Mother’s Day I’m ever gonna work,” I announce.
“You said that last year,” Robert laughs.
“Yeah, I know.”
“And the year before that.”
“I mean it this time,” I say.
“Well gentleman,” Manny interjects, “we have 365 days to find new jobs.”
“Oh God,” Robert says pounding his head on the bar. I feel like joining him.
Taking a sip of my beer I catch the reflection of an exhausted waiter in the barroom mirror. He’s not old looking – but not quite so young anymore.
“No more Mother’s Days,” I whisper into my beer
I mean it this time.