I French serve until my hand cramps.
I put on the obligatory smile,
pressed in my monkey suit.
"Would you like more, sir?"
The beef--perfect, tender,
sliced on a rented platter
is rejected, sent back to the kitchen.
This family, new to money,
wants everything well done.
I try to anticipate every need,
and the host reaches out--
not for what's being offered
but for me,
laid out on the table,
I avoid his advances
with ballet-like moves,
and gather half-eaten food and sticky, balled-up napkins.
Another man, two tables over, is without a date.
He asks me repeatedly for water.
I want to say to him,
"Hey, why don't you start a fistfight,
so we can all clear out of here?"
Instead, I pour.
A gaggle of giggling girls
eye and judge me.
I take their plates.
The matriarch must be
a hundred pounds overweight, and is further burdened
by her beaded pantsuit.
She is impossible to maneuver past
as I heft a steaming tray of greasy chicken.
working this gig
He slips me a cup of white wine
that I masquerade as ginger ale.
Later on, I will give him
salmon in phyllo
tucked inside a paper napkin,
rescued from the trash.
There is so much waste.
It is rumored the family spent
half a million dollars on this party,
one of the other tuxedoed women tells me
when we steal a delicious minute to smoke.
The flowers alone cost $70,000.
It is time to make the coffee,
My body starts its familiar ache
between the shoulder blades.
Swollen in my shoes, I struggle not to slip
on the kitchen floor's filthy patina.
They don't tip us.
The hourly rate is precisely counted out
into my palm. I loosen my bow tie
and walk out into the night.
Practical matters. Grocery list.
I need cat litter, juice and eggs.
I want to buy myself a beautiful, expensive dress
and it's a good thing the stores are closed.