Lessons From A Main Street Cafe #2

(Originally written in January 2013)

Stars Don’t Necessarily Need A Stage

I’ve been to a burlesque show once. It was a strange experience watching how the performers simultaneously pandered to the audience while making sure their jobs were being completed. It was funny to see how the men were completely wrapped up in these girls as they danced and sang as if they had a valid interest in their lives. As the songs went on and the intermission morphed into the second act I found myself thinking about that Main Street cafe.

There are two waitresses at my cafe. One that looks like she’s no more than a few years out of high school and one who is in the midst of middle age or which the latter is most certainly the star. But I’ll get to her in a little bit. 

The younger one has a slim, elongated build, big eyes, dyed hair and trendy shoes. She makes sure that every step she takes across the worn carpeted floor is noteworthy and she’s not afraid to create her own fun at the expense of the customers. I watched her once sprint to the front door and lock it down just before a regular could escape the cold. Those of us who were already inside joined her in her laughter as the man outside tried in vain to enter. Eventually she let him in and instead of being upset at being the butt of a joke, he complimented her. I find it hard to believe that anyone would ever have a negative thought towards this woman’s antics and I have a sneaking suspicion that she knows this. She’s the sort of inoffensive fun that an opening act should be.

Only one waitress works at a time. So to get the whole picture a person would have to stretch the show over a couple of days. Or in the case of my visiting schedule, a week. But it would assuredly be worth it.

The older of the two waitresses is a walking contradiction. Years of being a lover, a girlfriend, possibly a wife, a mother and a person show on her body. She has a few extra pounds, barely any makeup, her shoes are dirty, and she speaks frankly without a hint of poetry. But the way she leans over the counter to grab a dirty dish from a table just within arm reach can only be described as grace. She opens up freely about the frustrations her kid gives her. She offers up no pity laughs to an old man’s bad jokes and she isn’t concerned that she filled up your cup too full to add any cream. She doesn’t need to be concerned with any of these things, because while it may not be her name on the deed to the building, it’s her place regardless.

I take comfort in watching these waitresses work. Because while they may never find themselves on a stage bathed in electric light, they’re the right kind of divas regardless. It’s nice to think that finding a certain level of celebrity in any venue is a possibility for all of us.

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