Alexandra leans over confidentially. ‘Watch, Mom. I’m, like, magic. If I point at someone, they turn and look at me. It’s totally the weirdest thing. Watch. I’ll point at that guy.’ Alex raises her hand above the sticky Denny’s table between us and points at the manager who turns and glances our way. ‘SEE? I told you. It works every time!’
‘Ali, I hate to tell you this but he was turning in a circle to survey the entire room. There was a 100% chance that sometime during that turn he would be facing our direction.’
She sighs. ‘No, Mom. You just don’t get it. Here. I’ll do it again.’ Alexandra’s right index finger is now pointed straight and true at a waitress on the other side of the room. Now, I could have asked her to put her finger down but the truth is, we’ve been sitting in this booth for about 30 minutes with no napkins to cover the stick layer on the table. No water to cleanse the palate that tastes a little ‘off’ because of the strange smell of yesteryear’s eggs, bacon and grease. It would be nice if it did work and we could get some service. I’d like to leave as soon as humanly possible. Initially, I had considered actually eating food here but as the minutes ticked by it went from the grilled cheese and fries platter to just dessert or nothing if we didn’t get some damn service. And then the waitress turned. She looked at us. I smiled. And then I remembered Ali’s finger. ‘See?? I totally told you. It SO works.’
Dahlia, our waitress, came over and brought her big hair and attitude with her. ‘So.’ And then she paused and looked us over. ‘What are you? Thirteen?’ Alex smiled. ‘Yes.’ To which Dahlia, the Sweet Onion replied, ‘Huh.’ and stared at Ali’s finger which was now partially stuck to the table.
Suddenly, I remembered this Denny’s. I’d brought Devon, my oldest son here when he turned 15. We had walked in, been seated almost immediately and enjoyed a front row seat to an arrest in a nearby booth. The guy, snaggletoothed and stinky, was clearly drunk and maybe under the influence of other substances as well. It had been nice to see him go. We wouldn’t miss his warbled ‘Isss alwazz other PEEpull….alwazzzz…PEE…pull..� How could I have forgotten that lovely interlude and made the mistake of coming here again?
‘Hi there.’ I spoke to Dahlia’s hair. ‘We�ll just have some dessert.’ Ali’s desperate nod was a little alarming. Clearly, she wanted to leave as soon as possible as well. ‘Cheesecakes, I guess. With strawberry topping.’ Onion Queen scribbled a little something which I couldn’t read and walked away without even a ‘see ya later’ or ‘be right back’ or ‘keep your pointy finger in your lap.’
Astonishingly, the desserts came within 60 seconds or less. I was pleased and surprised until I realized what she must have written on her paper was ‘To find: the oldest, nastiest, 7 inch encrusted cheesecake that tastes like Playdough. Must be hard and dark yellow on outside. Cover with sufficient strawberry topping to drip down sides. Don’t forget to spit in whipped creamed desserts of Pointy-Fingered Pair.’
Ali and I took a bite. Or, we tried to take a bite but it wasn�t really possible. Our attempt to crack through the prehistoric crust proved unfruitful. We scraped some strawberry stuff from the sides and left as soon as we could.
I paid 9 American dollars to sit in a sticky booth for eons and not be waited on and then served nasty food. The cash register guy, who was clearly also the manager, asked us how we enjoyed our meal. I just looked away. Alex looked him straight in the face, smiled enormously and said, ‘Yum, yum good!� She has my sense of humor.
I was rummaging through my purse back at the hotel room. Alex asked me why I paid when it was so awful. I looked up to tell her that I didn’t know how to answer except my Momma raised me to be polite and pay my bills. And there was her finger about 2 inches from my face. ‘See?? It totally works!!’ She giggled. I looked back into my purse/camera bag and suppressed a smile. ‘It doesn’t always work, Ali.’ But when I looked up, she was pointing again. Her finger grazed my eyelashes. And this time, I giggled.