A view from behind the tray.
"When the moon so long has been gazing down
On the wayward ways of this wayward town
That her smile becomes a smirk,
I go to work."
-Vivian Green, "Love For Sale"
It could be any upscale bar or restaurant in Santa Fe, let's call it Pajarito. I'm your waitperson, and to me, love is 20 percent.
1 bottle of wine, $36, 2 entrees, $11 each
"What can I get you?" and "How are you this evening?"
Meanwhile pretending I don't know you, pretending I didn't wait on you and your wife of 20 years two nights ago for your anniversary. You'd like to order a nice-but not too expensive-bottle of wine to share with your pretty young friend. You'll pay in cash. You chose a corner table, it's dark in here. The outside world seems far away.
Total: $62.34 Tip: $10
4 scotch and waters, $9 each
"Are you doing all right?"
Shamelessly your eyes wander down into and get lost in my shirt. You'd like me to dance with you-allow you to run your
sweaty, trembling hands over the surface of my back while you sing along softly into my neck. You've been drinking and smoking for hours. You aren't a bouquet of roses. When your wife decides to leave you, come in to Pajarito, we'll get you a scotch on the rocks and a nice bowl of soup and you should take a sandwich home with you. I'll worry you're not eating enough.
Total: $38.63 Tip: $10
2 screwdrivers, $7 each, 2 Cape Cods, $7 each, 1 dirty vodka martini, $12
"How am I today?"
You want me to chat with you, tell you about myself. What's my name? It's the same as hers. You can call me anything you want. I'll call you "20 percent" or "cheap bastard" behind your back.
Total: $42.92 Tip: $7
And you are the random creepy man standing in the service area. The area where I'm trying to work. You will not even tip me since you're not at one of my tables. You're standing too close. I have a boyfriend, but that's none of your business. You say, "I like your dimples," and "you're fine." Gross. I have work to do, napkins to fold, ashtrays to clean out, water to refill. They don't have to pay me minimum wage because they assume I'll make money in tips, but some nights no one but the unassuming couple comes in. She'll have hot tea (what a pain: hot water, tea bag, cup, spoon, sugar, lemon for $3.50-even if you love me that's less than $1) or maybe if she's feeling wild she'll try a margarita. He always drinks beer. I want to say, "Can I bring you a nipple for that drink or maybe a few straws?" After an hour the ice melts in any cocktail. "Yes, I'll be here tomorrow." I don't have a choice. I print and take the check to Table 6 to escape you, creepy man.
3 scotch and sodas, $9 each, 1 slow gin fizz, $10, 1 appetizer, $9
"Any questions about the menu?"
In Italy, you do things differently, you've told me; you take time to enjoy. It's understood I haven't seen you
a dozen different times, each time with a different John, often older men although sometimes just the socially maladjusted. Sometimes they'll bring you to Pajarito two nights in a row. You'll sip at one drink while he gulps two or three and then the groping begins and he says to me "We'll take the check,"-the excitement in his voice bubbles over and splashes into his cocktail. Once you hugged me because I chased after you with your umbrella. "Why are you touching me?" I thought.
Total: $49.37 Tip: $9
7 glasses of Merlot, $8 each, 4 vodka on the rocks, $9 each
"Would you like a glass of water?"
Thank you, you nod. Later you hug me for helping you find your way to the bathroom and back to your table again. You I don't mind. You're sweet and you didn't mean to get drunk.
Total: $98.72 Tip: $20
4 cosmopolitans, $11 each, 2 beers, $4 each, 2 Cuba libres, $7 each, 2 Jack and gingers, $7 each, 4 appetizers, 2 @ $12 each, 2 @ $9 each
You ask my opinion on your conversation, but I haven't been listening. I've been negotiating around your table stretching and contorting to clear your dirty dishes. You say Las Campanas doesn't maintain its course so it's not really worth the money. "Las Campanas shouldn't exist, green grass isn't supposed to grow like that in New Mexico." Did I say that aloud?
Total: $130.92 Tip: (Twenty percent is $26.18.)
"I'll take that whenever you're ready. Have a pleasant evening."
Mostly I watch you to see how little of myself I have to give to make you love me. I observe and I won't tell anyone your secrets as long as you love me.
So, do you?
Twenty dollar tip in the end from Table 6.