Waiter’s Dance / Intimacy Dinner is a lot like love
Calm fills the empty restaurant. For the server, it is deafening, which increases the awareness of the server and the sole guest of the presence of the other. Why wouldn’t there be a couple at the next table, exchanging small talk? thinks the diner. Or a bit of music to break the silence?
The waiter, bored, under-stimulated and struggling to concentrate, clings (unconsciously) to this lonely restaurant in search of meaning to attach to his existence. As soon as the restaurant’s glass of water has gone down a few centimeters, the waiter refills it. The tiny plates are empty, he gets rid of them. On several occasions, he asks the restaurant if he enjoys his food.
Is there anything else he can bring her? Does he have any questions? What does he need?
Sometimes he catches dinner halfway through. Taco halfway in his mouth, the diner gives a thumbs up, worried that if he smiles the food will fall back the same way it came in. .
Covering his mouth with one arm, he wraps his other over his chest – holding his self close at hand so it can’t be snatched away (happily and with a smile on the unwitting doer’s face). He looks down at his food, avoiding eye contact.
He begins to feel the pressure to reassure this server. He even started to feel like he was waiting for her in some sense (emotionally speaking).
He thinks of the Americana passage, “’American customer service can be so boring. Someone who revolves around you and bothers you all the time. Are you still working on it? Since when did eating become a job? »
Meanwhile, in the loud and bustling restaurant a few blocks away, conversations overlap, silverware blares, and timid jazz music tries to compete with the clamor (though that shouldn’t even bother).
The overworked waitress struggles to divide her attention between the multiple needs of the diners. The male restaurant reports her several times. His water cup needs to be filled. He only had two; its usual number, throughout a meal, averages six.
A table feels snubbed. At another, the customer’s stomach growls as he throws his unused napkin onto his still-empty plate, mumbling that he’s going somewhere else (“The waitress clearly has her hands full anyway,” he reasons) .
The health-conscious diner wants to know the origins of meat. He wants to know if his diet was plant-based or starch-based. Yet he bites his tongue – knowing that when demand is so high, such questions would strain an already onerous environment, increasing his stress.
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In the middle of asking the same question again, the empty plate in place of a fully cooked meal for 20, 30 or 40 minutes, his attempt to make eye contact with the waitress is akin to hailing a taxi when none of the drivers can see her, the diner feels unsupported and ignored. She feels forced into an uncomfortable self-sufficiency.
More Americana: “Good customer service, good customer service. People here behave as if they are doing you a favor by serving you. Upscale places are ok, not great, but regular restaurants? Forget. The other day I asked a waiter if I could get boiled yam with a different sauce than the one on the menu and he just looked at me and said no. Hilarious.'”
The beautiful sweet spot
The waiter/diner dance is very similar to the intimacy dance. Go away, don’t expect to come back, I need you. / You’re suffocating me, stop, leave me alone, / Wait I didn’t mean forever, you can come back now, stop neglecting me, what will it take to get your attention back, come on, you can’t you see my cup has been empty for 20 minutes now???!
Andrew Haight writes of “the universal concern that we all have, which is the two poles of security and freedom. Patrick is torn between total freedom and total security, and I think we can all relate to these dual desires.
Think of those times when the server magically appears just when you need it. It may be like realizing that you are still hungry or thirsty.
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Eleni Stephanides is a Spanish bilingual LGBTQ writer and medical interpreter. Her work has appeared in Them, Tiny Buddha, The Mighty, Uncomfortable Revolution, Breath and Shadow, Elephant Journal, The Gay and Lesbian Review, and Introvert Dear, among others. Follow her on instagram.