A Waitress

A man comes into a restaurant. He is in his mid thirties perhaps. It is, like many restaurants in the neighborhoods of big cities, on the bottom floor of an apartment building. He sits by one of the plate-glass windows of the place and begins to study the menu. After a bit he signals to the waitress and she comes to his table.

"Could I get the sweetbreads and the green salad?"

"Yes, of course," she answers.

"Also I'd like some coffee."

"Certainly," she answers as she writes his order on her pad.

She leaves the table and for a few minutes he watches her reflection in the plate-glass window. He has also taken a book from his coat pocket and has it before him on the table and is careful to appear as if he is reading the book, while in fact he is actually watching the waitress' reflection in the glass.

Although he often frequents this restaurant, he has never seen this particular waitress. Apparently she is new to the place. She is rather tall for a woman, and muscular, with broad shoulders and well shaped legs. He watches her buttocks as she moves about the restaurant, waiting on a few other customers and cleaning off tables and keeping them neat. He notes too that her waist is barely evident.

As he studies her further, he sees that her dress, a black one, is too tight for her and that its hem is well above her knees. It is really a dress for a much smaller woman, really for a teenager. The woman's top is a simple blouse, short-sleeved and with an open collar. He notes also that the woman has applied lipstick in a way that makes her ample mouth seem, at first glance, smaller than it really is, and that her eyes are made up like a teenager's, with heavy mascara and eye shadow.

"She is at least 35," he thinks to himself, "but wants to took like a young girl, and wishes she were smaller, wishes that she was petite."

He studies her further, and sees that beneath the makeup and tight-fitting, short skirt, is a beautiful woman, but a woman who cannot see her own beauty. He imagines her, looking in a mirror each morning with regret at her looks.

He stops studying her and his eyes drop fully on his book. But he is not reading the book. He is thinking about her.

Finally she brings his food to him and he begins eating. As he eats, now and then he glances at her, now from the corner of his eyes, directly, or with slightly downcast eyes. He is still thinking of her as he eats his food, leisurely and pensively.

Once he has finished his meal, he asks for the check.

'8.55' is on the bottom of it. He pulls a dollar from his wallet, and two quarters from his pocket. He fishes a bit more in his pocket and pulls out another dime and a nickel. He lays the money under the edge of his plate. He gets up from the table, goes to the register, and pays the cashier.

As he leaves the restaurant, he takes another sidelong glance at the waitress.

It is almost dark now, and getting cold. He pulls his long coat closer to him and buttons it up. As he walks along the outside of the restaurant and takes another glance at the woman, he begins to cry. Going down the street along the other apartment buildings which fill the block, his shoulders are shaking with his sobs.