Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Special treatment

The waiter was European, Italian perhaps? And hot. It was obvious that we had a special connection. I arrived about ten minutes before my pretty, petite, dark-haired girlfriend. I was alone, had no place to sit in the crowded little bar, and must have looked vulnerable. He was in the weeds, but polite and kind.

It's a narrow little sliver of a bar, with a huge butcher block in the back, where they carve up expensive meat to order and offer an amazing selection of wine. The back wall is lined with reach in coolers full of hanging pink sausages, pale cheese, and various prepared foods. All of the tables and chairs are high, so you are constantly on eye-level with your servers. This is one of those little things I notice because I work in a restaurant--the difference between looking up at your server and looking them straight in the face. It's more intimate and a huge reason why bartenders get more respect than waitresses. They are not looking down on their customers, and their customers have nothing to prove.

So, when the waiter poured me a taste, when I swirled it around in my glass, when I held it up to my nose then my lips, and nodded in approval, I was looking him right in the eye. It was sweet--we had a sort of understanding.

Looking back, I wonder if he or anyone else would have talked to me right away if I weren't me--if I were fat, or dark-skinned, or old. Or, conversely, if I exuded the kind of confidence that makes some people seem completely at home while drinking alone at the bar.

We were two girls out on the town, out on their own for a girl's night. I frequent the place, and I knew he recognized me, had perhaps even waited on me once or twice. But he'd never given me any sort of special treatment before.

A free bottle of wine later, we stumbled out of the restaurant drunk. My friend and I are not big people, and we would have been well saturated on what we ordered alone. His free tastes were meant as a little icing on the cake, I guess, but when he lingered with us at the door, saying goodbye and thank you and goodbye again, I had to wonder. I was sheepish and drunk, but according to my girlfriend, his eyes were trained on me. Immediately I began to wonder what he'd think of me if I were 100lbs bigger, or twenty years older, and when I realized that that would render me invisible, I wished I hadn't had quite so much to drink.