Disclaimer: Since this is reality and not my happy little utopia, I do not own Blood Ties. But I do have some cottage cheese, complete with cottage cheese juice. Yeah, you say 'crème de la crème'. I say cheese juice. It's disgusting.
If I were a wannabe actress, this wouldn't be quite so bad.
If I were an aspiring writer, I could use this as inspiration.
Even if I were a musician, I think I could handle it gracefully.
But I'm a marine biology student, waitressing at a seafood restaurant to pay off student loans.
Oh, the irony. The cruel, cruel irony. Though I am getting some good identification practice due to the tropical fish tank that is serving as a room divider, so there's that. Unfortunately, today we're dreadfully busy with pretentious, overdressed rich people and their brainless eye candy. I find myself assigning them species: that idiot woman with the huge hair is a male guppy (huge, colorful and motion hindering tail). That too-thin elderly couple with faces bunched and twisted by time and lack of contentedness are both Nassau groupers (frowny-faces).
That thirty year old woman with the blond hair and the glasses…she's wearing a leather coat and jeans, already upping my opinion of her. She also looks like she's saying something that needs to be said, as opposed to mindless chitchat. I'm considering…perhaps a blue dolphin. No relation to the cetacean (rhyme most assuredly not intended), but the African cichlid. Big, colorful and aggressive. I think that fits.
Her dinner partner, however, is not making quite that impression. A man almost definitely younger than her by at the very least six or seven years, his hair is somehow a flawless mess of curls just reaching above his shoulder blades in radiant brown. Small, inset and intense eyes are narrowed into slits of concentration as he focuses on what his companion is saying. I can't tell from here, but I'm willing to wager that the rest of him is just as attractive as his face.
And that he knows it.
I'm thinking…Dracula goby, Stonogobiops Dracula. Oh, most certainly. It just fits so perfectly. I'm a bit perplexed as to why these two are dining together, however, as I would have picked Dracula as more the type to visit bizarre and loud clubs and hit on people more like my friend the guppy over there, who appears to be eating dinner with either her father or her 'benefactor'. Here's hoping for father.
"What are you doing? You just got table five! Go go go!" I'm being yelled at by the headwaiter. That's lovely, just great. Assign me the ones I've been cruelly and unfairly scrutinizing this whole time.
"Leaving." I mutter, grabbing my order pad off the counter and shoving it in my apron. Every night I do this, I realize how much I dislike my white top and black skirt, and every night I remind myself that at least I don't need to wear those diner uniforms.
As I approach them, I catch a short snippet of their conversation before their attention is turned to me.
"I'm just saying, I'm not dressed for a fancy restaurant. Henry, my t shirt's stained, I have a headache. And how do they get seafood to Toronto?" I have always wondered about this.
"Vicki, you are as perfectly radiant as ever. The way you look after what just happened is proof. Besides, you need some real food. Perhaps some healthy salmon will balance out all that Chinese."
"I'd prefer to stay lopsided." The man, Henry, I suppose (though in my mind he is still Dracula), is about to spit back a witty retort when he sees me approaching.
"Hello." He regards me coolly, and in a way that makes me wonder if this woman is actually his date.
"Hello, my name is Iliza, and I'll be your server tonight." I smile at the both of them. The woman, Vicki, returns my practiced and sincere (-looking) smile with a sympathetic flash. Henry is smirking slyly and for some reason I'm feeling very exposed.
"So can I get you two anything to start with? Anything to drink?" They exchange glances.
"What do you have?" Henry asks me, innocently enough.
"We have a wide selection of wines," I see Vicki try not to look partially disgusted.
"We also have iced tea, coffee, beer, lemonade, soft drinks…" She smacks her lips thoughtfully.
"I'll just have a beer. Any kind." When people say this, it usually means 'the cheapest kind'. I quickly jot down her request in an improvised shorthand that only I and the kitchen staff can comprehend.
"And for you sir? Anything?" He is silent for a few moments, though he doesn't seem to be considering his options. People our age like Starbucks, right? If he's an artsy type, we have pretentious and fruity drinks abound.
"We have an extensive variety of coffee drinks." Henry looks back to Vicki, smile widening, before glancing back to me.
"I don't drink much…coffee." That was creepy. Does he have an alcohol problem, possibly?
Ah well, not my business to pry.
"Very good, then. I'll be back soon with your drinks, and if you're ready then I'll take your order!" I said 'drinks', plural, didn't I? I'm operating on autopilot. These people have me off-kilter.
All too glad to be out of there, I hurry over to my next table, though my conscious thoughts are trained resolutely on their now continuing conversation.
"Do you always have to harass the help?"
"That was harassment?"
"Oh, please. You were totally checking her out." There's amused silence.
"Are you saying you're jealous?" She laughs. Or scoffs, rather.
"You wish I were jealous, Lestat." I thought his name was Henry? Isn't Lestat the name of the vampire from Anne Rice's novels? Perhaps it's a play on his lack of drinking.
"Vicki, are you sure you're alright? Your head was hit fairly hard." Out of the corner of my eye, I see him reach out and cup her cheek in his hand tenderly, like he's caressing a bruise. She doesn't lean into him, nor does she shy away.
"You tell me. Am I acting any crazier than usual?"
"How usual is usual crazy?" She groans and shakes her head, freeing it of his grasp.
Unfortunately this is where I have to leave, because I have no interest in listening to some family try to contain their children and prevent them from crawling under the table.
I'm not good with juveniles…humans, anyway.
I add my orders to the queue that's already amassed itself to the back of the kitchen and return to my post of leaning casually on the counter and observing people and fish.
The aquarium is elliptical, though much longer than it is wide, containing a wide variety of semi-aggressive to aggressive fish (triggerfish, tangs, surgeonfish, puffers). I know what most of them are, with the exception of one fish that looks like a pink tail triggerfish without the pink tail, and with fangs. A solid black with these beautiful periwinkle eyes, she's like a cross between a trigger and an opaleye. I don't know why it's a girl, I just do. I've been calling her a vampire triggerfish.
What a disturbing trend this evening! First there's Henry the Dracula goby, then the vampire triggerfish! And here comes the bannerfish (alternately known as the poor man's Moorish idol or, my favorite, wimple fish). A disc like body with black and white stripes supplemented by yellow on the dorsal and anal fins, they are a striking fish that always draw attention from those willing to pay attention to fish. Of course, as always, there is the occasional cry of "Dory!" from the children who see the yellow-bellied African regal blue tang (whew! What a mouthful!) gracefully muscle its way past other fish.
"Iliza! Emerge from your personal reality and go take tables five, nine and twelve their drinks!" I hope that's only the first time he's had to say that. Balancing the tray full of clinking glasses filled to the brim on one splayed hand, I support it with my other and head for the nearest table (twelve).
Once again, I find myself distracted by the two at table five. I'm fairly sure that they aren't a couple, but then what would that make them? I suppose the default would be friends, as relations seems somehow unlikely for such an intimate atmosphere. The two of them are laughing delightedly at something, and the man stops suddenly, though still smiling. He whispers something to her, face taking on an oddly acute stare. I see her eyes crinkle upwards in a smile before her mouth in a clever comeback and chuckling.
Unexpectedly, on my part at least, she shoves one sleeve down to reveal her wrist, as if to emphasize her comment. He frowns, as if he doesn't want to be reminded of whatever point it is that her wrist illustrates. So to a certain degree, they do have a history. What happened before they came here that warranted a head injury on her part? What relationship do these two share? Why can't I just watch TV instead of doing this?
I decide that when I get over there, I'll try to catch a glimpse of her wrist, and perhaps the side her head that is faced away from me – the one that, according to Henry, has a large bruise.
When I get to table nine, I begin to hear snippets of conversation, beginning with Henry:
"…can't keep doing this…" He's drowned out a bit. Next I hear Vicki's response.
"…helping...Mike…" He frowns at the mention of 'Mike'. Is Mike Vicki's boyfriend, perhaps?
I also hear something along the lines of "soup natural" a few times, from each one of them. I guess they don't like preservatives.
Why couldn't I just work at a pet store? I like pet stores. I like aquarism and puppies and small mammals and birds and reptiles. If you talk to animals they listen, even if you sound like a complete moron. No fake personality needed. Plus, they don't care if you spy on them. That's kind of the point of a pet anyway.
"…snack…" They aren't very consistent in their conversation topics, are they?
"Henry, I know that you'd never purposely…" Much to my aggravation, I don't hear whatever it is that they say next. Luckily, I've unloaded all the cocktail and sodas (nanny and her charges, respectively).
"Hello again. I have your beer here," With an expert and practiced flick of my hand, the bottle is on the table, and with another the glass is next to it.
"So are you two ready to order?" Henry leans back and raises his eyebrows.
"Vicki? You ready?" She hurriedly sweeps up the menu, flustered.
"Uh, yeah. Could I please have…the salmon steak?" I smile and nod like a good mindless robot, jotting it down.
"What about you?" I smile down at him. He stares up at me intensely, eyes cold and clear. Yeah, Dracula goby was dead on.
"Oh, I don't know. What do you think I'll like?" I really don't get paid enough for this.
"Well, today the specials –" I pause. Usually the only follow-up question to 'what can I get you' is 'what are the specials today'. Like I said, operating on autopilot.
"He'll have the mussel platter." Vicki tells me, handing me the menus. Henry looks a bit perplexed, but says nothing.
As I walk away, however, I hear this quaint little spat slash banter.
"So you use me as an excuse for more food?"
"Well, no one else will know. You can…eat when you get home. I didn't have lunch. I think I've done more than enough today to deserve two meals."
"That you have, love, that you have."
I'm sorry, what just happened? She said 'eat' in a such way that I can immediately tell his definition of eating differs from that of the general Ontario population. I'm suspicious.
Well, not that suspicious. But a biologist has to be observational. It's kind of my livelihood.
"Hey, you guys notice anything weird about the people at table five?" I inquire, leaning up against the counter, directing the question to the chefs.
"They're unusually hot?" Ventures Bernard, whom everyone knows wants to be on America's Next Top Model despite being a two hundred pound man.
"No, you dimwit. I mean besides that. They don't seem…strange to you?"
"Not really. He's kinda young. Other than that, not much."
"He didn't order anything to drink and she ordered food for him."
"Maybe he's shy."
"I didn't get that impression." Despite my reasoning, something is off there. I purse my lips, and continue on to the Screaming Children Table.
Turns out that they're the last table I have to serve before my shift is over, so that's fine. Because now I get to follow them outside.
I know how awful I am, and I'm nosy, and that this is not something a sane person would do.
But something is off about them and I want to know what it is!
Also, they have clear sexual tension, and that appeals to the hormonal and stereotypical part of me. Ah well.
"So…we could rent a movie? What do you say to an old classic?"
"Remember what happened last time we rented a 'classic', Henry?" He smiles and whips in on her, forcing her to take a step or two back. I am hidden rather conspicuously behind the wall (despite the fact that I'm dressed like a bloody penguin), peeking in on the happenings.
"I'm afraid I don't. You'll have to…remind me." Even I got chills just then.
"You hit on me and it didn't work." They just stare at each other for a few moments before he responds.
"Is it working now?" She's silent, likely because he's moved beyond the personal friend line on the ground and is now close enough to kiss her.
"…maybe." He fights to keep the triumphant grin from his face, tilting his head to the side and leaning towards her.
"Let's see if we can up my chances, shall we?" He waits for an answer, which he doesn't receive until she's taken a good, long look into his eyes.
"I'm not…saying no." She tells him, balancing carefully on the line between flirtatiously playful and deadly serious.
"Well, then." And he closes the distance between them in what I imagine was the best way either of them could imagine. Their mouths meet in a very active kiss, his hands caressing her face and her arms flat on her sides, both of their eyes closed as they explore each other's mouths.
Eeeew! Kissing! I'm such a baby, I know. But still…eeew! PDA!
Finally, Vicki breaks away for breath.
"You do know that twenty something year old has been watching us this whole time, right?" She whispers against his mouth.
She's talking about me! I forgot I existed for a moment there.
Oh, shit, I'd better run now.
I dunno, the idea just popped in my head. An over-analytical waitress with too much time on her hands, a major in biology sciences, and good hearing meets the vampire and the crypto-zoology magnet. If you like, feed the plot bunnies!
If you don't, feed them anyway!
Look how skinny!