Jamie glanced at the clock over the counter. Soon the dinner crowd would be trickling in. At first, most of the locals made no eye contact with her. And for days, they continued to watch as she moved around the room.
She knew that the stares were out of curiosity because she looked so different from anyone else in her black lace-up boots, pink uniform, and a fringed vest over it. She thought she was prepared, especially when she remembered what Mike had told her about this town, but the comments were persistent: “What…you’re twenty six years old and still ain’t married? No? Why?” or, “I was seventeen when I got married. By now two kids. A third on the way.”
At times Jamie conceded that perhaps she had made a mistake in taking this job. But she liked the steady and physical monotony of waitressing, of dealing with people who were so different than her.
Then there the other comments: “Those pinko resisters, dodgers from California. Hate them Communists. We went to get our heads blown off; had no choice. No choice except by turning traitor.”
They directed these remarks toward her: “Every boy from my high school class of ’69 who got drafted went to ’Nam, every single one, I tell ya, not a dodger or card burner among ’em. I bet where you come from, the guys were too busy smoking dope.”
And, “Look at you . . . what’s this you wearing, a hippy outfit?”
More often she heard, “I don’t understand what the fuss is all about. Seems to me that all I hear lately is ‘feminism’ this and ‘feminism’ that. I don’t know what it all means and I don’t care. Every person on this good earth deserves his due. What’s wrong with being a traditional woman? My wife never talks about it, and she always seems happy to me. You women’s libbers are just trying to stir up trouble.”
In the midst of the din, Cook often screamed, “I need help in the kitchen,” as he slammed plates on the counter.
Jamie should have told them to go to hell; instead, she placed her hands on her hips and eyed them up and down, taking in their Stetsons, cowboy boots. “Is that the best you can do?” she said at one point. “You want to see which of us can score the most points against the other? Because if that’s what you’re after, I’m not interested in playing. Now, what can I get you to eat?”
Eventually, the questions dried out. By the beginning of the third week, everyone knew where she lived. They found out that she had lived in Hollywood for four years, that this job was only temporary, that, no, she didn’t know how long she would stay. The most amazing thing was that since she’d left Los Angeles, Jamie had no regrets about it.