Hostess Without the Mostest
by Shelly Blankman

I should have known the job was not meant for me.
A restaurant hostess, I was short, dumpy, clumsy,

plain, that slippery stage at age sixteen, when a girl
tries to act older than she feels and only the mirror

reflects the truth behind the makeup; the head hostess,
an Aphrodite, long blond hair, mine kinky, unruly,

more like Medusa’s minus the snakes, that would draw
stares cold as stone. She was not much older than I,

smooth curves, porcelain skin, her voice lovely, lilting,
mine crackled by nerves, welcoming customers ogling her.

Hungry people can be so mean. Aphrodite’s job, to tell me
where to seat the starved; my job, to lead them in their suits,

pearls, and clicking heels through a labyrinth of tables,
white-knuckling menus in my hands while trying to complete

this Herculean task with all the strength of a wingless bird
before Aphrodite rescued me, showing that, yes, beauty and

brains can come in one package of perfection. Finally, success.
A table of eight for a party of four. Why hadn’t I remembered that?

And an inviting pitcher of beer for a party who had no doubt worked up
a thirst. In my triumphant moment, I also forgot — Never separate tables

with a pitcher of beer in the middle. The shatter of glass echoed as if from
from a mountaintop into an endless valley below. An odd fusion of Pabst

and perfume filled the aired and the cacophony of cursing and cries from
customers who had by then lost their appetite gave me the best tip ever.

Never work in a restaurant again.


IMAGE: “Beer and Cards” by Juan Gris (1913).

Shelly Blankman

Shelly Blankman
and her husband are empty-nesters who live in Columbia, Maryland, with their four cat rescues and a little dog named Mia. They have two sons — Richard, 32, of New York, and Joshua, 31, of San Antonio. Her first love has always been poetry, although her career has generally followed the path of public relations/journalism. Shelly’s poetry has been published by Whispers, Silver Birch Press, Verse-Virtual, Peacock Journal, Praxis Magazine Online, Ekphrastic: writing and art on art and writing, and Visual Verse.