She put her hands delicately on the other waitresses’ hips, when squeezing by her from behind. It looked as though she was being careful to not let her pinkies touch—keeping them a slightly raised above the rest of their fingers, hovering over the convex curve of the young woman’s hips. Her arms moved fluidly, like a dance. Her partner’s hips shifted slightly when met—like a cat being stroked with a feather. Instead of the cultured sound of a studio piano they were dancing to the clattering of dishes.
Clattering of dishes—words that intone sounds that can arouse images of a busy diner: wait staff rushing to and fro; diners nosing newspapers; coffee poured on the fly; classic rock cranking from the kitchen. The diner was awash with the Sunday morning breakfast crowd. The Formica playing field of tabletops and counters was buzzing with players. Servers passed food to the customers, who passed money to the cashier. Amidst this activity, one waitress sweetly dragged her thin hands down the hips of another. They might have been lovers—young enough to be undamaged by the consequences of mixing hormones and work. The way they touched was contrasted by the speed and din of what they were doing. They seemed to be surrounded by a bell of slow motion silence when they pressed past/into each other.
The Latino workers were careful to not make eye contact and stayed in perpetual motion—trading racks of washed mugs for bus bins full of dirty ones culled from the playing field. They could snake quietly and quickly between the knees and elbows of servers hustling plates of hot food. They were a world away from the young men at the counter who looked right through them. These young men with eyeglasses too modern for their hipster garb tracked the asses of the young women behind the counter like they are watching a parade. The guys were speaking of something else, but they are all looking at the same thing. The waitresses offered them no reaction—not on the menu.
The only timeout from the game was when one dark haired waitress brushed against the other. That moment of electric stillness was only for them, and only for a moment. Then, like a well-placed rest in a bar of music, in one beat the tempo picked up and they were back.
The rain kicked up outside and the new arrivals brought with them rain drops pealing off their clothes. They stomped at the door, knocking loose a couple drops before coming all the way in—a meek gesture of consideration toward those who would have to navigate a wet floor. The hostess was in control. She rang out the names of those to be seated and the chosen fell forth to be led. And it didn’t stop—but, only for a moment, when two young women in aprons and name tags snuck a moment of intimacy through a passing touch that could only be seen from the counter seat, second from the end, across from the twin coffee makers and the new microwave.