Part One of Four
Christmas Day and the gift shop was packed with stuffed people going and hungry people coming and lonely people mingling and people sick of their families escaping. They all breathed the same scented air and edge-stepped around each other, sucked-in and taut, trying hard not to break anything. Three frantic hostesses conferred and worked logistics, estimating x number of dining minutes per party, times 11 on the waiting list and more coming.
Trying to accommodate MarthaAnn’s regulars and the two-highchair-one-gimp-hip party of 8, head hostess Sarah looked with dismay at three separate parties of 1 on the list before her: Hester, Hamlet, and Robinson Crusoe. Singles were so hard to seat on days like today. MarthaAnn was trying to placate her regulars, the regulars were screaming about not getting MarthaAnn, and Irvin just informed Sarah that a charter bus of golden gals and guys headed to Nashville to the Rockette’s last show had even now opened its doors with a hydraulic hiss.
Sarah had to diminish the waiting list. Now. These were the moments she loved her job. An alter ego took over and she became Queen Sarah, Solver of Problems. “Gimp Hip, party of 8, Gimp Hip, party of 8, your table is ready,” she sang in her head, while her mouth called for the Millers. Glaring at the bus boy to step it up, she pointed the party to a large table to the immediate left, and receiving inspiration on the fly, called, “Hester, Hamlet, and Crusoe, parties of 1, your table is ready.”
Smiling, impervious as a nurse requiring a sample, she greeted the three somber separate people with a collective air and waved them after her, deciding that walking and explaining brooked no argument, “As you can see, we are unable to seat you separately, but I am certain you will find your dining experience satisfactory. Ma’am, Gentlemen.” She gestured to a table just inside the dining room, handed them the signature enormous menus, and whisked away eagerly to the next seating challenge.