Tuesday, May 12, 2009
The Center of the Universe
If you haven't been able to find it, I can tell you where it was tonight: the Center of the Universe came and sat at the bar, and I got to wait on her.
I tried not to make any snap judgments about her by her wildly dyed, attention-getting hair style. And I tried to suspend my interpretation of the air of self-satisfaction she exuded. And I gave her the benefit of the doubt when she first beckoned me over to her with an air of urgency even though I was already clearly on my way to tend to her.
She was nice enough. Almost too nice, though. The kind of nice that says I know how to act like I am nice though really I require your constant focus and if I don't get it, I will unleash the hell-on-wheels that I really am.
I set her up with a cocktail, and as she and her dinner companions waited at the bar for their table to be set, the C of the U continued to peruse the beverage menu (it's an interesting read) as I waited on other folks at the bar.
Excuse me, she said, extending an arm over the bar and toward me. As in the me who was talking to another person on the other end of the bar.
I glanced over my shoulder and signaled that I'd be right over.
I walked with a deliberate slowness toward her. Yes? I asked with an even more deliberate sweetness.
Oh, she started. If you're busy it can wait.
No, no, I say. I'm all yours. Please go ahead.
And I meant this because I wanted to know what was so pressing.
She smiles fake-sheepishly. What's Cynar? she asked, pointing to one of the ingredients on the cocktail list.
I am always happy to answer questions about the menu (it's part of what I do, after all), and this one is a common one.
It's an Italian liqueur distilled from artichoke, I began. It's kind of sweet and bitter and herbaceous and vegetal.
Oh, cool, she replied, looking back down at the menu, which I took as my dismissal.
I eyed another customer who needed to give me an order and headed over to him.
As soon as I got there, the call came in again.
Excuse me, she implored.
And when I say implored, I mean she wasn't just casually trying to get my attention; her tone was just shy of suggesting that there was a natural disaster about to befall the bar and that I must act with all due imperativeness.
I consider ignoring her, but I turned around, smiling.
Oh, it can wait, she bluffed again.
I ended up answering two more questions in this fashion of hers, waiting until I'm otherwise occupied before she decides she must talk to me right away and then acting like she's just suddenly realized that she was interrupting me and feigning politeness by deferring to the other bar patron.
I know this game.
I've played it before. With other Centers of the Universe.
The kicker? Turns out she works in a restaurant, suggesting to me that she should know extra better than to try to talk to the bartender while that bartender is talking to other customers.
You don't have to be an astrophysicist to know that.