Tuesday, January 23, 2007

olivia and the brunette

Olivia is Tanis’s baby. She is just sixteen months old. Tanis and Adam had her just one day after my birthday last year. Several months ago, when Olivia was still in a phase where she was more amenable to being held by everyone and anyone, she came to an all staff meeting at Tremont, and I wrote this post about her. She was fascinated by me, and wouldn’t stop staring at me, and at first I assumed this meant that she understood that I was her Aunt Kitty and that I loved her and thought she was pretty much the cutest most beautiful little peanut in the world. I assumed, in short, that we had an understanding, that we had a connection, I mean after all, she was born just one day after my birthday—and that’s just so special. It wasn’t until Tanis passed her to me to hold for a second as she fished around for something in her bag that I realized that Olivia’s fascination was less about an understanding, intimate connection, and more about a fascination with the unknown. As I bounced her on my hip, her little eyes lit up. She reached out her tiny little nectarine fist, grabbed a chunk of my bright blonde hair and tugged, as babies do.

About six weeks ago, Tremont 647 turned 10. We had a big party at the restaurant, and Olivia of course made an appearance, with parents in tow. Once again, I was tasked with holding the baby for a brief second, while Mommy put down her coat and got something out of her purse. I took the little peanut in my arms, hoping to bond with her again, to forge a more substantial connection than the last time I saw her and she tugged my hair. After all, I hope to be a mom myself someday, and I’d like to believe that I am naturally one of those people who is just “good with kids.” These hopes were quickly dashed when Olivia started crying instantly. She wasn’t just fussing, either, she was really, truly crying, and her screams just got louder and louder, until mommy finally rescued her from the tall blonde lady who it seemed was taking her hostage. As I passed the baby back to Tanis, she made an apologetic comment about the baby being “a real pill today” and given to crying if “anybody besides mommy tried to hold her.” But I knew what time it was: Olivia was letting us know that she doesn’t really like blondes. In her opinion, they’re unfamiliar (mommy is a brunette and daddy is bald) and they’re scary. Hey, at least she’s honest.

But could there be a more perfect test than another encounter with baby Olivia, just minutes after Jason had finished dying my hair brown? Olivia was one of the first people I encountered as a brunette last month. She, mommy and daddy were at the restaurant, dropping off mommy off for work, and were just about to say goodbye when I walked in. Both Tanis and Adam acted appropriately shocked—they gasped, their faces lit up, and they said, “oh my god, Kitty, your hair! I like it!” They looked at me with wonder as they tried to make sense of the new Kitty.

Olivia, who is almost walking now, was also quite intrigued. Tethered to her mom with one hand, and pointing at me with the other, she made her way across the room on her little 16 month old legs (with surprising speed.) She walked right up to me (with mom’s help, of course), and was undeterred when I waved and knelt down to say hi. Instead of screaming, or looking at me with her usual mistrust, she giggled and smiled, as if to say “what’s up.” She then reached up to me with her right hand, and let me hold her hand on the one side as mom held on to her left hand, and we walked around the restaurant. We went on a little adventure, all around the front bar area of 647 and back into the narrow row of tables that stretches back in front of the kitchen line. The baby wanted to keep going, but just as we were making our way to the further back corner, daddy came over and told Olivia it was time to go.

About a week later, Adam came into the restaurant for dinner. We didn’t really talk because I was kinda busy, but as he was passing me on his way to the bathroom, he tilted, smiled, and said: “You know what Kitty? I think I agree with Olivia. I think she’s right—I think I like you better as a brunette.”

6 a.m. and I can't sleep...

So, I have been a brunette for almost a month now. And my whole life is completely different. Of course, that is in part due to a conflux of other changes that have conspired to keep me very busy, hence the lack of new posts in the past few weeks. I’ve changed waitressing jobs and have left Tremont 647 after almost 5 years of loyal service. I started a new job at Toro, the place where I used to fill in on occasion as a hostess, and where I conducted lots of research on blondes, and will continue to conduct research as a brunette. I will also be moving into a new apartment with Marissa, the best friend who USED to live in Italy and just moved home to Boston to go to grad school, and Alyssa, my very good friend who manages Toro. Between all of this I have somehow ended up working almost every day and night of the past two weeks, and though I am scheduled to do the same this weekend, and am in fact scheduled to work both places on Friday night, I will somehow also need to make moving happen. It’s been an intense three weeks, and has left me with no respite in which to reflect upon my life. And now, instead of sleeping heavily and soundly until my alarm goes off in about an hour and I need to get up and live the dream a little more, I am lying here wide awake, staring at the ceiling, thinking about the myriad of things I need to handle before I can relax and superimpose a sense of routine on my new life. The Mathematician had to get up early today, at 5 minutes to 6 a.m., and left at 5 minutes to 7 a.m., and since we all know from this previous post that I can’t really sleep at all when he’s not in the bed with me, I am up too.

So, where to begin the reflections on my hair? It’s elicited such a reaction from people, and it’s been really fun to observe. For your reading pleasure, another post on Olivia…

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

the brunette in the shirtdress

Remember this post, which I wrote six months ago, about the blonde in the shirtdress that I saw at Toro one night last June? She was ethereal and perfect and her hair was the lightest shade of all-over platinum. Well, she became my unforgettable model of blondeness that evening. I have kept her in the back of my mind as a personal icon how to be a blonde ever since.

So, isn't it interesting that my very first night as a brunette, the very first customer that I waited on should be a brunette in a shirtdress? And she wasn't just any brunette, this girl. She was absolutely gorgeous: her deep, dark brown locks glinted with a hint of auburn, and cascaded over her shoulders and down her back to tickle her shoulder blades and her cleavage; her searing brown eyes were framed by long, perfect black lashes. She was voluptuous and sexy, a vision of perfect, palpable sex appeal. The guy she was with wasn't so bad himself--a tall, dark, and handsome type who seemed as though he probably had a lot of money. However, the brunette on his arm was the real starlet of the evening. She was polite and nice, but not in a ditzy or demure way. She exuded confidence and elegance.

"Jackpot!" I thought as I walked over to greet the table. "A pretty brunette couple being waited on by a newly christened brunette! What could be a better way to indoctrinate myself into this new club?" When I told Tony, the fabulous Brazilian busser who calls me Barbie (or used too), that she was my model as a brunette, he just looked at me. "Really, Kitty?" he said. "I don't know...you were so fabulous as a blonde, why'd you dye it anyway?" Tony is Brazilian after all, so I am totally not surprised by this reaction.

A while later, after watching the brunette in the shirtdress walk down the narrow corridor of the dining room towards the powder room, Tony just looked at me, shaking his head: "Now I know what you mean girl--she is sexy, she looks like she's walking on the catwalk!"

Who would have thought that my brunette icon, my new model of how to live in my new hair color, would be found sitting right in my station on my very first night as a brunette? I hate to be such a nerd, but I couldn't help but take it as a sign. I had, after all, tried like the dickens to get my shift covered that evening, petrified to display my new look to everyone i know in the South End without having some time to get used to it first. I mean, what if i hated it? What if I couldn't handle it and couldn't get out of Jason's chair that fateful Thursday? What if I looked ugly? How was I supposed to wait tables if the whole browning process went horribly awry? All of these thoughts raced thru my head as I dialed server after server to see if they could cover my shift on Thursday morning...

And thank goodness everyone I called ignored me, or I never would have met the brunette in the shirtdress.