Posted from: Beijing
“Penis,” said the Japanese business man, looking at his friends for confirmation of his English. They nodded supportively. “Penis.”
“Penis? Penis?” They are hopeful and polite.
I looked at their table. They all had beer, no food. A clue. “You’d like some peanuts?” I ventured.
They nodded happily – chalk up another one for the homeland – and I left to snap my jaw off laughing behind the big-screen TV.
I am a waitress in Beijing.
I’m not sure how it happened, but I when I examined my darkest desires, the secret appetites that bubble up from the dark recesses of my soul, I realized with a pang of regret that I’d never had anyone scream for me from across the room in more than one language. I mean, every man dies, not every man really has the opportunity to pick every speck of grated parmesan off of some Korean anorexic’s salad.
“That may take a while,” I said.
“Biding time until your president grows some balls, I see.”
Her boyfriend smiled and pointed at his butter dish.
Yes. I am a waitress in Beijing. I am an aproned diplomat at a vastly drunken UN meeting.
The Americans shuffle around the bar in paunchy, patriotic clusters, coming up with nicknames for me and Har-Haring in flannel logger-jackets so loud that
The French sniff in distaste and demand I admit that I can’t pronounce the wine selection and that I should stick to serving
The Germans whom the managers love because, hey, in Beijing, every day is Oktoberfest, and
The English, who the waiters love because they eat their burgers with a knife and fork and fold their napkins when they leave, as opposed to
The Chinese, who’ve never been served by a foreigner and conspire to test my knowledge of their language by spilling and dropping things for me to replace, but are somehow easier to put up with than
The Italians, who feel that I should *work* for the tip they will not leave and then ask for my phone number with the check.
And then there’s the Canadians, who watch the hockey game and go home.
You know, you wake up one day and realize that your life is your own, that it’s not pretty, but someone has to live it. You have to greet each new day with one finger on your aching temple and one finger on the snooze button. You have to stride right up to the Reaper and tell him, with blazing eyes, that a side of mashed potatoes will cost an extra five yuan.
You have to grab life by the peanuts.