I down my beer and take a deep breath. I hope I can make it through this night without fucking strangling somebody.
“I have no idea why you choose this restaurant every month for your little get-togethers. We live in a city with great choices. I mean, this place is fine, but if they don’t start updating soon, they are going to be left behind. This restaurant is way down at the bottom of places I’d choose.”
Ben nudges my knee under the table. He doesn’t need to worry about me losing my shit with her. He needs to be more concerned about me losing it with her husband, Stephen, for bringing her to our monthly dinner.
Ben chimes in, “You’re right, Cherie, we do have great restaurants in the city. What is everyone having tonight?” Ben, my little brother, forever the peacemaker, the teacher, and the mediator, will make sure we make it through dinner tonight with his best friend, Stephen, and his bitch wife.
Why Stephen brought her to The Stardust is anybody’s guess. I’m used to Stephen, he and Ben have been best friends since their first year at college, so I can tolerate his bullshit. He must be on his wife’s never-ending shit list since he brought her tonight. Stephen can barely stand to be around her after twenty years of marriage. He knows I can’t stand her; hell, he knows Gentle Ben can’t stand her.
“I’m going to get their fish and chips,” Stephen says as he practically downs his Guinness beer. He refuses to make eye contact with me.
“For Pete’s sake, Stephen, you’re in your forties. Don’t order all that grease and wash it down with beer all night. We should get the salmon or tuna.” I watch Stephen’s face turn red. Good, he fucked up our dinner this month, serves him right. I look for the waitress. I’m switching to something stronger than beer if I have to listen to Cherie going on about Stephen’s existence.
I motioned for a waitress; she’s not ours, but I don’t care. I watch her approach. I haven’t seen her in here before. “Hi, how can I help you?” she asks with a bit of a southern drawl.
I look at Stephen, “Johnny Walker Platinum for me. Stephen, you need something stronger?” I can’t keep the scowl off my face looking at him. He knows I hate being around people in general, especially people like his fucking bitch of a wife.
“Hi, I’ll have another beer,” Ben raises his empty Guinness. “Are you our waitress? I’ve never seen you in here before.” He gives her his golden boy smile. I roll my eyes. Jesus Christ, I don’t know why I even bother going out once a month with these two.
I tap the table to get Cherie’s attention. “Are you good?” I glance at the wine in her hand. We need to get this night moving and over with quickly.
She gives me one of her bitchy looks. “I think I’m good until our waitress comes back to take our order, Jack.”
“I think this is Becky’s table. I’ll give her your drink orders. Are y’all ready to order?” The waitress draws my frown away from Cherie. I look at her to tell her who gives a fuck about dinner. She needs to get me a stiff drink. I notice her incredibly long hair because it’s hanging to her waist. “Are you allowed to wear your hair down serving food?” I ask, momentarily forgetting about my drink.
I watch her face blush. “I’m actually off work now, sir. I’ll send Becky right over.”
“Thank you. We appreciate your coming over to check on us. I’m Ben. We come here all the time for dinner. Well, we do.” He points to Stephen than to me. “He’s antisocial, lacks all social etiquette, and you’ll only have to deal with him once in a while.”
She smiles a pretty, genuine, friendly smile. She has big, big blue eyes with a pale complexion. She shakes her head at Ben’s teasing. Then she aims her smile at me, “You’re correct about my hair, sir. No, I’d not be allowed to wear it down working at The Stardust.” She raises her eyebrows at me. I realize I’m scowling at her cheerful face. She says, “A Johnny Walker Platinum and two Guinness beers. I’ll let your waitress know. I’m off; enjoy your dinner.”
I watch her walk away, wondering about her hair. Ben knees me.
“What?” I ask.
He shakes his head at me. “Really, Jack?”
“What? She has hair almost to her waist. I noticed it, and I didn’t mean it the way it sounded.” I grunt.
Cherie gives me one of her cold smiles, “You sounded like an asshole, Jack, but I see your point. Hair like that should be worn up away from food. She’s too old for that long of hair anyway. No one over thirty can get away with hair that long. Only little girls should have hair that long.”
Thank God I don’t have to respond to or listen to Cherie’s dribble of hair any longer. Becky sits down my drink. “Here you go, guys. Are you ready to order?”
I don’t wait for her to finish serving our drinks. I pick mine up and take a healthy sip of scotch. “I’ll have another scotch and the fish and chips, Becky.”
I make eye contact with the gentleman with dark, longish, messy, wavy hair. His face is contorted unhappily. He signals me over to his table, and I smile, even though I’m already done with my shift. I head over to see if I can help this man who’s upset about something.
“Hi, how can I help you?” He’s staring at my hair. I get that a lot when I have it down.
“Johnny Walker Platinum, for me, Stephen, you need something stronger?” He frowns over to the guy across the table.
“Hi, I’ll have another beer. Are you our waitress? I’ve never seen you in here before.” A blond, clean-cut, handsome, mature man smiles at me.
Mr. Grumpy knocks on the table to get everyone’s attention. “Are you good?” he asks loudly to the only woman at the table who looks like she’s eaten sour grapes.
“I think I’m good until our waitress comes back to take our order, Jack.” She looks me over from head to toe before she shoots a scowl to the grumpy one.
“I think this is Becky’s table. I’ll give her your drink orders. Are y’all ready to order?” I ask the man whose unhappy looks drew me over to the table.
“Are you allowed to wear your hair down serving food?” He’s staring at my hair. My hair is dark brown, thick, wavy, and my low-slung ponytail lies over one shoulder. Even over my shoulder, it comes to my waist.
I smile politely, “I’m actually off work now, sir. I’ll send Becky right over.”
“Thank you. We appreciate your coming over to check on us. I’m Ben. We come here all the time for dinner. Well, we do.” He points to the man sitting by, I guess, his wife, then over to grumpy. “He’s antisocial, lacks all social etiquette, and you’ll only have to deal with him once in a while.”
I keep in my giggle. I meet grumpy’s dark brown eyes, and he’s staring at me, scowling. “You’re correct about the hair, sir. No, I’d not be allowed to wear it down working at The Stardust. A Johnny Walker Platinum and two beers, I’ll let your waitress know. I’m off; enjoy your dinner.” I waltz towards Jerry, tonight’s bartender, to place their drink orders.
I find Becky before I leave for the night and fill her in on her table. I had another great day waitressing here, grumpy customers and all. I smile. I’m happy I chose this place to work in.