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Waitress?

She used to work in a diner/ Never saw a woman look finer / I used to order just to watch her float across the floor-"

-Neil Young

As a human being, I have a minimal ability to cook hot meals for myself. And away from the bosom of the Duke meal plan and out of my parents home, the most common way for the hot meals to arrive in front of me is via waitress. Waitress: well, a nice gendered word; a lady who brings food and drinks. But there's more to it, to the relationship between me and a waitress and that's what I want to get into.

I often empathize with Neil Young and more or less tend to echo his sentiments on life. This case is no different. I love waitresses. I love waitresses constantly and indelibly. I love waitresses irrationally and selfishly. I love to watch them walk around with grace, take orders, fetch drinks and deliver food. I am pretty concerned about this.

I've never broken into a full out gender rap in one of my columns before, and I don't plan to start now. I think that gender issues play a serious role in the Waitress-Aaron relationship, but so do more vague and, to me, more fascinating issues of control, self-aggrandizement, fantasy and perhaps biology. It interests me that a female (anatomically) has always brought food to me. It also interests me that she, for the most part, this human has performed the role of "woman" as I perceive it in my cultural framework. Great stuff, but I'll leave it for the experts in anthropological sciences here, and delve into the personal and emotional as I am so often wont to do.

In the past year, I've been in contact with waitresses in a variety of sets and settings. I worked at Elmo's Diner for a while as a bus boy slash host slash all-around, incompetent, front-of-house staffer (I had a lot of trouble carrying the big tray). We had waiters and waitresses there; the waiters were my friends, the waitresses were my secret crushes. Then I went to Brazil and actually pursued to fruition a romantic involvement with a waitress, a pinnacle in my life and also a piece of column-worthy braggadocio if I do say so myself (because really, folks, what is a column without braggadocio?). This summer, I spent time on the road eating in sit-down diners, dives and greasy spoons throughout rural and urban America, in the South, the Southwest, the Northwest and the Midwest. And now I'm in Europe and frequenting a pub where Jana, my current waitress-crush, brings me tall, cold beers and creamy chicken and potato dishes and sometimes soup, when she has it.

So what's this all about, anyway? Is it a control thing? Do I like ordering women around to do my bidding and thereby develop lustful feelings toward them? Nah, I don't think it's that. I think it is, in this controlling sense, the old rescuing-the-downtrodden-damsel-in-distress-"diamond in the rough" impulse. I think I hear my friends, exes and old flames vomiting. No, seriously. I think there's some element of "I can take you out of this restaurant and make life better- you won't have to wait on asshole customers anymore!" Sounds pretty sick, but why else is one person, aside from pheromones and physical characteristics, interested in another (from my rather narrow, mostly heterosexual and mostly masculine point of view)? I think I'm better than other dudes, point blank, and can offer the "feminine-actor" a better situation than her current one.

But the more likely thing is this: Caught up in the biological excitement of eating and drinking, I develop a favorable bond with the waitress. I don't have the same kind of attachment to a lady at the DMV, for example. I also eat alone a good deal, and in that case she becomes my companion, more of an exotic dancer/bartender relationship but without the exorbitant tips. I dunno, maybe I just like waitresses because they'll talk to me. Or because they walk around and I like to watch girls walk around.

Oh Neil, I'm really feelin' you on this one, man.

Aaron Kirschenfeld is a Trinity junior.  His column normally runs every other Tuesday, and he really wishes people would call him Orbit.

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