“Please don’t refill my coffee,” Mamie says. “It’s not empty yet. The proportions of coffee to milk to artificial sweetener will be off.”
The waitress gasps. “I’m like that, too! Nobody understands! When someone refills my coffee before it’s empty my whole day is ruined.” I decide this young woman, who has never waited on us before, is our girl. I’ve decided we love her, and she will tell us more of her endearing quirks. I declare it so. Mamie’s not entirely convinced.
A good waiter or waitress is nearly invisible, which I know because I was a *terrible* waitress in Dad’s high-end restaurant, and a few other joints down the line. At the end of the meal, you remember you ate the delicious food you asked for when you expected it and there were no jolts or unpleasant surprises. You, as a diner, probably won’t remember much about the person who served you. You should tip 20% and thank your lucky stars. A good server is hard to find but a neurotic server is very entertaining. She’ll be back later for Act III, I’m sure, and I see the proverbial gun on the wall.
“I kept trying to leave the bridal shower,” I say, when chewing resumes. I’m not eating. I ate at home. They’re at my mercy and if they spit food, I win. “But Mamie reminded me if I’d kept my knees together nobody would be there. The first thing that happened was my cousin chased me around the room, trying to take my picture for a guest book. It took her half an hour to catch me.”
“Waaaaam sssh a bee?” Trout munches.
“No. She’s wily,” Mamie explains. “The room *wasn’t* that big. It was also a little warm.”
“Right! When a nice person from the place lit a fire in the fireplace I tried to climb out a second story window.”
“You did not! You wanted ventilation.”
“A lot you know! I was going OUT that window.”
Lala’s smiling. She’s attended her daughter’s bridal shower, too. “What happened?”
“Apparently, the place is used to people trying to bust out of the event room. The window cranks were gone.” I look forlorn. My escape plans were foiled. Mamie’s nonplussed. Trout perks up and swallows.
“Remember that time in Newark?” Trout’s very excited. “We were leaving The Fringe and that guy was just hanging onto the side of the building! He said, ‘I got locked out. Would you hold the door open?’ I laughed so hard I had to duck between the cars and puke.”
“Hanging…on the side…of the building?” Mamie is staring again.
“Yeah, yeah, you know they can’t always hear the doorbell and sometimes the door gets locked,” I toss out. “And you were there when Jhon Thum climbed the side of the house in a kilt, so it’s not like we never see people hanging around a story up.”
“Jhon Thum,” Mamie sighs. “I’m always glad when I see him in pants.”
“When we started eating, I was sitting between Mamie and Niece #1, who is inseparable from Sister #4. They’re less than a year apart in age and they get along great. We kept trying to feed them tiramisu because we couldn’t eat it. The calories! Miss Sasha walked by with a full plate. I asked her had she seen the vegetables on a stick. She said, ‘Damn!’ and went back to the buffet.”
“Everything’s better on a stick,” Mamie agrees.
“And if you have to stab somebody you’re prepared,” I continue. “When the girls got up to go do that junior bridesmaid notetaking thing, Dad sat down next to me, which should have had seismic consequences because then he was sitting next to my mother. She looked like she might dispense with the wine glass and drink straight from the chardonnay bottle. And – oh my God! You should’ve seen the presents.”
“She got five shower curtains!” Mamie shouts. “Miss Sasha registered for stuff and forgot all about it! I gave her this beautiful Japanese sushi plate set in green! She said, ‘That’s really beautiful! I love your taste.’ I said, ‘It’s YOUR taste. You registered for it.’ Your cousin said it was like she ran through Target with the UPC gun singing, ‘La la la la la la.'”
“At 7 o’clock, the place was a well-heeled mess, my sisters were exhausted, Dad was the only one who knew how to use the 50-year-old industrial dish machine.The bridemaids started packing things up, All the concerned menfolk arrived to help eat the mountain of leftovers. Dad, Sister #1 and I packed up food, washed and put away the dishes at lightning speed for about an hour until #1 had to sit down. She’s 8 months pregnant so I don’t know how she stayed on her feet that long. In her place, I would’ve told those twenty-somethings to go fuck themselves and get next to a dishtowel. And Dad’s got a heart condition, so I told the bridemaids to stop whatever they were doing and help me.”
“What were they doing?’ Lala’s done eating now. Trout’s plate’s disappeared. Mamie’s lighting a cigarette. And my seltzer’s empty! Alas, no one will be spitting food! Well, there’s always next week.
“Darling,” I say to the waitress, “May I have another seltzer with lemon?” She points to a spot on the other side of my Dragonball Z lunchbox.
“Like that one?” she asks. I didn’t see her put it down. I’m thrilled! Mamie purses her lips.
“Ever have one of those days where everyone annoys you?” Mamie asks the girl. “You know, where everyone’s poking at you and you just think you’re going to kill somebody?”
“She’s a WAITRESS!” I shout.
“That’s EVERY day!” she says. Mamie brightens. Our girl’s no Twinkie.
And now we have a new playmate.