Served: Why Not to Date Customers (One Day I Will Learn)

I blog by day and wait tables in a New York City restaurant by night. I'm excited to bring you Served, dispatches from the front of the house. Enjoy!

20080616-servedbug.jpgYesterday was one of those days: I was feeling pretty awful. I had a vast number of pages to write, a deficit of sleep, and my head throbbed annoyingly. To top it off, a mighty constellation of pimples had materialized on my chin. I tried to work some magic with concealer before I left for work. But makeup wouldn’t do it. The pimples were too red and vicious and gross. I felt totally, unbearably gross.

But I Soldiered On

Once I got to work, things started to look up. I had an enormous cup of coffee. People poured in, and soon the bar was packed and I was off and running. Distraction is a great cure for misery. I chatted; I made small talk. I poured glass after glass of wine, sang my praises for our cream cheese sticky buns with cream cheese ice cream (hallelujah!), bussed tables, explained what fol epi is (a mild, sweet, pressed cheese from France that melts really well).

I was functioning and feeling un-horrible. Then E. walked in.

E. used to come in to my place enough to accrue regular status. I haven’t seen him for months. E. is very smart, very sarcastic, and likes to talk a lot. He’s a successful entrepreneur, but his real passion is trapeze. He takes a lot of time off, travels the world, and performs flying through the air.

In January, he sat at the bar and we commiserated about our breakups. His: his girlfriend of several years who wanted to marry him. Mine: a guy I had been seeing for not quite six months. Then, he asked me out for oysters. Disinclined to say no to oysters, and intrigued by E., I met him at Grand Central Oyster Bar a few days later.

E. and I got along really well, or so I thought. We made another date (his idea, not mine), which he cancelled that afternoon. I left for a vacation, came home, and never heard from him again.

Until Last Night

“Hi!” I walked around the bar and gave him a hug. “What’s up?”

“You look great,” he said, which made me wish that actually looked great. Why did he have to come by on pimply day?

We talked for a few minutes about nothing in particular. He’s one of those guys who is really good at that. I had to get back behind the bar, which was full of people snaking their heads to get my attention.

Then his date walked in. His date! Am I sure that it was a date? Not entirely. Maybe 90 percent sure—it looked quite datey.

“What a dog,” P. chimed in in empathy after I told her the story. P. was serving their table. “Are you sure it’s a date?” she asked me.

“You’re waiting on them, what do you think?”

“A date.”

Fine. It wasn’t like I tossed and turned all night, thinking of E.. I wasn’t going to let him and his date at my restaurant get to me. Or that’s what I told myself.

Love the Skin You’re In?

Back at the bar, a gorgeous woman who used to work with my boss drank pinot blanc and ordered some cheese. She introduced herself, and we got to talking.

“How old are you?” she asked, out of nowhere.


“You’re so young!” she said. “I knew it, cause you have the most beautiful skin.”

No shit, I thought. I said, “It’s so funny you say that. I was freaking out all day about breaking out.”

“Trust me,” she promised, “your skin is glowing.” And I decided to try the best I could to trust her. Why not?

Just Say No

We keep our red wine on shelves by the bathroom. I went to grab a bottle of tempranillo, and bumped into E., who was waiting in line.

“Excuse me,” I said.

“Are you working tomorrow night?”


“Want to see a show with me”

“I have plans.” I did have plans. And I couldn’t believe E. was asking me out after blowing me off. And asking me out while on a date.

“You don’t want to miss it,” he promised. I shrugged. “I’ll call you,” he said. I got my wine and went back to work. When I looked over at E.’s table, he and his date were gone.