We were busy tonight at Toro. Some sort of yuppie catnip must have been blowing through the air in the South End, or maybe it was just the shocking "oh-my-God-it's-not-2-degrees-out" factor of the evening that had people out and about. Whatever it was, they seemed to be coming to Toro in droves, all headed straight to my section to eat tapas. It wasn't the busiest night I've seen at Toro, but it was definitely one of the choppiest. The flow of new tables to my section was about as graceful as an offensive line rush, and I felt like I couldn't get a break all night.
My body language must reveal all of this as I finalize my tips and print my cashout report on the computer terminal that's right next to the kitchen.
"Aw, Kitty. What's the matter?" asks Liam, one of the cooks. "Did you have a bad night?"
Liam has completely busted me during one of those down moments when you REALLY don't expect that someone else is watching you. I can tell by his tone that I must look like a sad little kitten who got stuck outside during a rainstorm. The fact is, I spend so much time smiling when I'm in the presence of other people that if I look even the tiniest bit sober, somber, or tired, people usually take it to mean that I'm, like, really upset (remember the Bells Palsy posts?)
"No, my night was fine," I say. "Busy. I'm just tired. I work another job, did you know that? I work here, and as a publicist...and I'm also writing a book, so it's kinda like working three jobs. So, I had a little bit of a rough day at my day job, and now, tonight was just a rough night. Just tired."
"I didn't know you had another job. And you're writing a book, huh? What's your book about?"
So, I explain my hair color project, and the blog, and the whole mission behind Undercover Blonde. As I am talking, my manager Adam approaches.
"I do the majority of my research here, you know. On the customers. And my managers," I say. "Hey Adam, did you see the blog post I wrote about you yet?" I ask.
"No," Adam says, "what's it say? Something awesome?"
"Of course," I smile. "I talk about how refreshingly honest you are. It's about the time I asked you how I look as a brunette, and you told me I look less ditzy than I did as a blonde."
"Oh yeah," he laughs. "You do."
"I know, and now the whole world does, too. It's on the InterWeb. He's right, though," I say to Liam, "People do think I'm less stupid as a brunette. I mean, people always tend to think I'm stupid at first, but they thought I was really stupid when I was blonde."
Surprise and slight confusion cross Liam's face. "Stupid? Really? I didn't think you were stupid when I met you," he says.
"It's okay," I tell him. "You can admit it. A lot of people think that I'm dumb when they first meet me. Trust me, I won't take it personally."
"No, really, Kitty. Stupid is not something that comes to mind when I think of the first impression I had of you." He pauses for a moment, as if giving the topic some serious thought. "No, I definitely didn't think you were stupid."
I look at him warily. Is he teasing me? I have three brothers, lots of guy friends, and have worked in restaurants forever. I expect that most exchanges with kitchen guys will not be serious, and that even the serious ones will involve at least some degree of ball-busting. But Liam appears to be totally serious. Yes, he is definitely serious.
"Wow," I say. "Huh. Are you sure you didn't think I was dumb when we first met? Because you can tell me if you did. I won't get mad."
"Nope. I didn't think you were dumb," he says.
"Interesting. How refreshing. Maybe it's because you met me after I became a brunette...?" It doesn't matter either way, this is very nice to hear after a shitty night. The fact is, people have always perceived me as ditzy or gullible (and I am gullible), for as long as I can remember. Or at least I thought they did. But who knows, maybe I'm wrong now. Maybe people are finally starting to take me seriously. Starting with Liam.
"Yeah," says Adam, flashing a cat-like grin as he walks away to do something 'managerial.' "Because trust me, she did seem ditzy as a blonde."
That's Adam, unflinchingly honest.