Wes Anderson at Rosalita’s Cantina
She’s sitting in a booth wrapping silverware in paper napkins when I walk in. When she sees me, a curious expression crosses her face. Part irritation like, “Can’t you see I’m working here?” and part surprise as in, “You want to eat here in spite of the well-publicized risks?” But the expression is subtle.
She reluctantly rises from the booth as if I’d asked her to lube the chassis of a semi-tractor trailer.
Her black hair is pulled into a pony tail on top of her head. It’s a weeping willow or a park fountain pointing straight up and then coming down on all sides. She’s dressed entirely in black.
She has enormous eyes. Doe eyes. Eyes that belong in a Margaret Keane painting. Her eyes move but rarely her head. Kind of like the lead singer of The Bangles when she got to the chorus of “Walk Like an Egyptian.”
Her eyes look up at me, just her eyes. She says nothing, but looks at me with a “your move” expression.
“Uh, table for one,” I say.
She looks long at me as if trying to comprehend an ancient, dead language. She looks down to the spiral notebook sitting atop the hostess stand. In slow-motion, she picks up a pen. She writes a number “1” on a line next to “Table 17.”
Satisfied, she picks up a menu, makes the slightest of eye-contact with me, says nothing, and walks away expecting me to follow.
She sets the menu down on a table.
“This OK?” Her first words.
“Sure,” I say.
She walks away.
I sit and begin flipping through the menu.
I feel her presence before seeing her. I glance up to see her standing at the edge of my table with a ticket pad and pencil.
“Drink?” she asks.
“A Diet Coke, please.”
She begins to write. Stops. Frowns. Looks at the point of her pencil. She licks the lead. Writes again. Stops. Looks down at me with those huge eyes.
“Diet Pepsi OK?”
I lean forward, grinning. “Is Monopoly money OK?”
She says nothing. She stares at me, mystified.
I laugh nervously. “Just a little joke. You know, like, Pepsi isn’t real soda just like Monopoly money isn’t.…”
She stands still, her eyes fixed on mine.
I give in, breaking eye contact. “Never mind,” I say. “Not a very good joke.”
I peak up in time to see a light of understanding slowly spread across her face. At first she grins. Then her eyes smile. Her nose crinkles. Her lips part to reveal a slight gap in her front teeth that catches a little blip of her upper lip before releasing into a wide, whole-faced smile.
“I get it,” she says with a silent laugh.
She repeats herself, this time tapping my arm with the eraser end of her pencil with each word. “I…get…it.” She pushes the eraser into my arm before pulling it back.
Her eyes and her pencil return to her pad. Her nose releases, her smile fades. She’s back to work.
“Yeah, sure. That’ll be fine.”
She licks her pencil lead and writes down my order.
She walks away.
Breath escapes my lungs in an audible huff. I was unaware I’d been holding it.
She’s a character in a Wes Anderson movie. Or maybe Tim Burton.
The restaurant was fine, the food just OK. But something tells me I will become a regular.
– Greg Lhamon