Betty couldn’t wait to fire me. In fact she was thinking about how she could can my ginger butt before I even got hired. She hated it when her boss, Mr. Frank Turner, the General Manager of the hotel, went over her head and did stupid things like make political hires of too young, too sassy waitresses just to keep corporate happy. I wasn’t any happier than she was to be forced to take a job that my stepfather got me through his connections so that he could continue to keep tight wraps on me even when he was far away.
So Betty and I were off to a rough start. I’m pretty sure she deliberately gave me uniforms that were too small–a tactic that failed miserably and which demonstrates her lack of logic. Where she thought she would be able to taunt and shame me for being chubby, the tight black pants and vest only served to enhance my cute sixteen year old figure, drawing even more attention to my little redheaded ponytailed self.
I went wrong with the ponytail, however, because it gave Betty something to grab when she thought I was being mouthy to her. Once, totally unjustly, she used my ponytail as a weapon against me. One of our big gamblers, and I mean big both corpulent and dollar-wise, had come back from a winning spree. Feeling his oats, he grabbed me and pulled me on his lap whooping, “Yahoo little darling! You gonna be my good luck charm?”
Next thing I knew, Betty had taken wing and flown across the dining room. She grabbed me by my topknot and yanked me off the fellow’s lap. By my hair she pulled me across the dining room and into the wait station, growling into my ear that I was not to flirt with customers, how many times did she have to tell me.
She also seemed aggravated that she had to repeatedly tell me not to distract twin busboys who followed me everywhere. Somehow it was my fault the 20 year old college students wanted to chase the little ginger around rather than the two cranky middle-aged waitresses who reeked of gin and the college girl who smelled like patchouli and who was never quite sure what meal we were serving. Betty chastised me constantly for their impossibly annoying and harassing behavior which culminated in their attempting to make a ginger sandwich out of me at our end of season picnic.
At least that episode seemed to wipe the slate of Betty’s notion that I was whippy. Since she couldn’t humiliate me through the boys, Betty figured she would do it through the girls. Our hotel was well frequented by artists of all denominations many of whom were gay, lesbian, or in pursuit of an alternative lifestyle. Coming from a middle class, suburban, incredibly dull background, most of this was new and exciting to me.
So when Betty asked me snickeringly if I was whippy I didn’t have a clue what she was talking about. One day when I was waiting on a table of fashionable young ladies from the local art college she could barely contain herself. She went on and on asking me if I was “one of them” and if any of them “struck me funny”. Every remark she made sent her into near hysterics and she had the other two waitresses who were on with me in stitches.
I ignored her to the best of my ability, tending to my tables. The table of sophisticated girls were very chatty with me. One of the girls in particular kept asking me about myself which was flattering and made me blush because I could see the impact her attention had on my coworkers. When the girls got up to leave she slipped a cocktail napkin in my hand with her name, “Catherine”, and her telephone number. The “i” was dotted with a heart and she added an “xo call me” after her number.
I stood there stupidly looking at it until Betty pounced on it. “You are whippy!” she exclaimed.
“I am not!” I retorted.
But I wasn’t really sure. I wondered if I had some secret whippy identification mark that I hadn’t known about until it was pointoutput to me. If I did, this meant there was a whole new confusing and exciting dimension to my life as a ginger.