Wednesday, May 14, 2008

It's all about technique

Hans and I are finally home from our sailing adventure, and it was indeed an adventure. I will post the finale as soon as I can get my thoughts gathered but until then I will leave you with this.

Even as a child I felt like an outsider looking in, especially when it came to female things. Some women are born with that inner knowledge like; how to look at that cute little boy in that certain way, starting the new school year with the latest hair style and not a hideous home perm, and exactly what the latest fashions are before anyone else.

I've come to the conclusion that it's all in the genes. What I've managed to inherit from my mother is not her brilliance or great artistic ability, but a little of her manic depression and her complete lack of fashion sense. So it shouldn't have come as a surprise to me that I would be completely oblivious and out of the loop to the 'secret code' that other waitresses were privy to; that certain undergarments were to be worn under our uniforms.

Thanks to weekly trips to the beauty parlor for her wash and set, my mother (now in her 70's)maintains the same hair do she's had since high school. She has worn the same style of stretch pants ever since I can remember, and I can predict the exact outfit and costume jewelry she'll wear to the next social event/funeral that we attend.

So it's a wonder that I even know how to pluck my eyebrows let alone shave my legs.

This all came back to me in a rush one night at my waitressing job.

Bear in mind that I'd already been at the inn for about 4 years when I overheard Katherine telling one of the waitress trainees about the rules of the road.

Katherine was one of the only waitresses who kept me on edge and I was never sure of how to take her. Raven haired and sharp tongued, she reminded me of a young Joan Crawford. Katherine relished in liberally seasoning her conversations with the foulest language and crudest comments I've ever heard (including the dreaded C word, ladies!) and why wasn't I surprised to find out that her father was the deacon of their church?

Katherine loved and lived to shock and of course by reacting in horror to some of her diatribes I became her most unwitting victim. So she saved some of her choicest and grossest comments for me, and the fact that I was old enough to be her mother must have given her an odd thrill. It took almost a full season to harden myself to her antics but finally there came the day that I turned the tables on her.

To the new trainee, Katherine was explaining what was expected of the waitresses, including the no jewelry rule (wedding rings being the exception) and then she said something that made me stop short. Normally I avoided any kind of direct contact with Katherine in the same way I'd avoid a rabid dog but she'd said something that I just didn't understand.

First of all, while old women may shriek with delight over our uniforms, they are hideous! They are below the knee, pinafore dresses, complete with ruffled straps that cross over in the back. Completing this ensemble is a long sleeved white blouse that buttons to the neck with a pretty little ribbon that holds it all in place. The only redeeming feature is that during the hot months you can get a good cross ventilation from the skirt.

I don't even want to tell you what a brouhaha I created my first season there (the year I WAS NOT invited back) when I hemmed my skirt to about an inch above my knee!

Anyway, Katherine was in the middle of demonstrating the 'squat' which involves our dropping to one knee as to allow us to lift heavy trays off of the tray jack and on to our shoulder, when she said, "And you have to wear shorts under your dress."

She caught me off guard and like a dummy I said, "Why?"

This was all the ammunition she needed.

With black eyes fairly snapping she replied, "I said, you need to wear shorts under your uniform." And she hiked her skirt all the way to her waist (unnecessarily) thus exposing, spandex biking shorts.

I was dumbfounded

"But why?" I repeated.

"Well, duh! So that when you do the 'squat' people can't look up your dress and see your panties. What do you wear?" She challenged.

"Nothing." I stammered.

"Oh really?" She looked around the room to make sure she still had a captive audience and with a wicked smile demanded, "Well, if you don't wear shorts, how do you keep people from seeing your panties?"

And that's when I decided I'd just had it. This little snot had toyed with me all year. As a single mother of three, all I was trying to do was to make ends meet, and never would I have treated anyone the way she treated me.

So, with heart pounding, and before I turned on my heel to leave the room, I tilted my head, narrowed my eyes and asked, "What panties?"

And I know she almost wet hers.

From that day forward I had no more trouble with her.


Angelia said...

hahaha!!! That was fab-u-lous!!!!

Glad you guys are home safe!

laura said...

Thanks! I'm glad we're back too but I'm still swaying on my sea legs.

Katie Alender said...

Ha! Good for you! It takes a lot to shut some people up, and finding the perfect line is well worth gloating over.

I am also that girl, by the way, only mine isn't genetic. My sister was able to rat and tease her hair to perfection, but I was 28 before I learned how to blow dry my hair (in sections, with a nozzle on the dryer, for any wayward 12-year-olds who might need the advice).

Mary Witzl said...

Good for you! I'd be reliving that moment for the next couple of years. I used to waitress with a real nasty piece of work myself and know what this feels like.

I have no fashion sense and my problem is definitely genetic. My mother would do things like book me hair appointments at the worst, cheapest places and encourage me to buy double knit yellow polyester/ nylon pantsuits with lace on them. High school was a nightmare for me. The best thing that ever happened to me was graduating. And Katie, thanks for that tip!

laura said...

How well I remember my mother taking me to HER hairdresser and not the 'in' place that my friends went to. What was supposed to be a body-wave perm turned into a frizzy, kinky, disaster and it took an entire summer to relax. And then there was the time she bought me a pair of purple hot pants (I was in the 7th grade) and made me where them to church! And then she made herself a one piece, backless halter-style, bell bottomed jump suit and wore it to church too. Honest to God! We must have looked like something out of Harper Valley PTA!