Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "A Man is Known by the Company He Keeps" (without using the actual phrase). (01/31/08)
TITLE: The Waitress
By Peter Stone
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“Huh?” puzzled Jase in all seriousness. “Don’t we come here for the food?”
After a pause, we answered as one. “Nah – for Natasha.”
Nothing was sacred to my friends, they sent up everyone and everything in a way that kept me amused for hours.
“Oh please tell me she’s not Natasha’s replacement,” Henry pined as a middle aged waitress headed for our table.
“May I take your order?” she asked. Her speech impediment and inexpensive hearing aides reminded me of Megan, a deaf girl I had met at the gym two months ago. She was the cutest thing to walk the earth so I had finally asked her out. She had responded by inviting me to have dinner at her folk’s place tonight.
“Whoa, what’s wrong with your voice, lady?” Jase piped up.
“I’m deaf,” she replied.
“Sorry, what was that?” Jase asked.
“I’m deaf,” she repeated patiently.
“Sorry, what was that?” Jase asked again.
Tom lost it, “Oh man, Jase, you’re just too good!”
“I’m d…” The waitress trailed off when she saw my friends laughing. Obviously hurt, she frowned at Jase.
“Do you want to order, young man?”
“Toasted cheese and tomato sandwich thanks,” Barry announced.
The waitress turned to face Barry, “Sorry, again please?”
“Man, what is this? We have to say everything twice now!” he snapped so rudely that I jolted visibly. I hoped no one treated Megan this way. “I said I’ll have a toasted cheese and tomato sandwich!”
“Hit me with the chicken schnitzel,” declared Jase.
“Sorry, did you say chicken?” she queried somewhat hesitantly.
“Oh man, buy some proper hearing aides.” Although spoken softly for our benefit, I was horrified to see the waitress watching Jase’s lips and not his eyes. “CHICKEN SCHNITZEL!” He practically shouted.
Covering my mouth with a menu, I gestured to my friend, “Be careful, Jase: she’s a lip reader. And she probably can’t afford good hearing aides – they’re several thousand dollars a pair.”
“How would you know that?” he shot back.
“Ah, I just heard it, that’s all,” I muttered, too embarrassed to let on that I was dating a deaf girl.
“If she read my lips, too bad. Maybe she’ll get the hint and get another job. Then these idiots can hire a waitress who can actually hear the customers!” was his comeback.
Seeing the waitress on the verge of tears, I quickly changed the topic by giving her my order.
It was six that evening when I reached Megan’s house.
Nervous at the prospect of meeting her parents, I rang the doorbell. And then almost died when the deaf waitress, sporting tear stained cheeks, opened the door. “You! Haven’t you and your friends done enough damage today? Do you know how hard it is for a deaf woman my age to get a job?”
“Look, ah, I’m so sorry for the way my friends behaved today, but you must have noticed that I didn’t join in?” I objected weakly.
“They’re your friends, and you spend time with them of your own choice, yes? That means you’re as bad as they are,” she said angrily.
I wanted to protest my innocence, but she was right. I chose to spend my time with those guys, and chose to delight in their sarcastic wit. A sobering thought suddenly occurred to me – was I becoming like them? “Look, um, I should have stuck up for you by telling them to back off. Or perhaps walked out on them.” But was too scared to risk losing their friendship.
“Why are you here?” she asked, suddenly suspicious.
That should have been my cue to disappear, but instead, I put my foot in my mouth. “Um, does Megan live here?”
“Megan? You know my daughter?” Comprehension dawned on her face. “Oh no, surely you’re not that new boy she’s been seeing?”
“Ah, um, yes. Look, I know I look like a heel right now, but can we please…”
“That’s enough! I forbid you to see Megan ever again!” The door slammed in my face.
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