Sunday, December 28, 2003

We all have personal mythologies. Autobiographical histories that we tell in order to present a neatly packeaged version of the self we wish to project. These archetypical tales dressed as amusing anecdotes provide the listener cirb notes for your personality. I was invited to have dinner at at coworker's house for Christmas. The topic of previous jobs came up. I have another personal mythical tale about me working on a cleaning crew with two drag queens and the most bitter woman on earth but that vignette was held in reserve. This is the first time I have conversed with this person outside of work and it would be unwise to have his first impression of me be the tale of Magnolia Thunderpussy, the gold slippers, and the dirty bank. Fortunately, the conversation wound itself through and past various topics. Eventually, the topic rested at 'respect your elders'. Don't ask me to chart the topic progression from jobs to old people. Conversation threads are a strange and unpredictable beast. Besides, everyone coming to the simple conclusion that respecting your elders is indeed a good thing. This provided me with an opportunity to tell a personal legend from my repertoire. I use the term mythology and legend not because they are fictional. These stories have been recounted so often that their relation to real history has become irrelevent. What is important now, is the fact that out of the plethera of experiences which lend themselves to anecdote, these particular ones have stuck as ones worthy of recounting. They say more about me than what happened to me.

I used to be a waiter at a retirement home. It was for weathly old people who were self-sufficient but wanted to live in a community of other older self-sufficient old people and just to be safe have nurses near by. Inside this place, they had a psuedo-restuarant. The difference was their choices were pretty much dicatated to the patrons. The lady at table three has this condition therefore she can or cannot have this such food. I wasn't really in accordance with this doctrine. I felt that these people had paid their dues. The average age was eighty. In my mind, they won. They played the game of life and beat it. They were here past the average age, and for the most part still cognizant. They deserve anthing they wanted. Plus, they were paying for this place. There was one woman everyone called her the butter lady, because she ate butter. just butter. When she sat down at a table the waiter would remove the butter dish lest this woman snack upon it. Not me. This woman earned her butter. Butter she want, butter she get. I would, with a conspiring whisper, offer her butter. I would slip packaged butter pats into her purse as she held it open in her lap. We were like a spies handing off microfilm. We would both give a casual glance around to determine if our actions were detected and then carry on our usual business of waiter and clientel. Sunday was wine night. Each parton would get ONE glass of wine. One. No more. If anyone earned a tipple it was these people. Another glass, sir? Are you sure? with a wink his glass would magically refill. Needless to say I was dismissed from this job quite quickly. I think the other waiters were jealous of my popularity.

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