“Jesus Arlene,” I say, “You’re getting bigger by the second.”
Arlene is eight and a half month pregnant. Still waiting tables, she looks like she’s about to pop.
“I swear I’m bigger than I was yesterday,” she moans.
“Any day now,” I say.
“My due date’s November first,” she says rubbing her swollen belly, “And it can’t come soon enough.”
“Why don’t you stop working?” I ask.
“Why?” she replies, “So I can sit around and be bored all day?”
“True,” I admit.
“Besides the doctor said it was good to stay active,” Arlene says.
“Well look on the bright side,” I say, “Now you can balance that fifth tray on your stomach.”
“Put that kid to work early!” I say.
“Yeah,” Arlene says looking downward, “Earn your keep around here.”
“Has anyone started a betting pool?” I ask.
“For when the baby’s gonna be born?” Arlene replies.
“No, “Arlene says, “Maybe you should start one.”
“It’s gonna be this Wednesday,” I say confidently.
“This Wednesday!” Arlene exclaims, “That’s early.”
“A woman’s first baby is often born early,” I reply. “Besides, if I’m right I’m gonna be the friggin Nostradamus of the Bistro.”
“I have to work this Wednesday!” Arlene says.
“I’ll bring my catcher’s mitt,” I tease.
“Could you imagine if I had the baby here?” Arlene says.
“We’ve got plenty of towels and hot water,” I say. “Latex gloves and disinfectant too.”
“What would the customers think?” Arlene chuckles.
A vivid image of Arlene birthing her baby on table ten develops in my mind’s eye. …….
“Push Arlene! Push!” I say encouragingly.
I’M PUSHING YOU BASTARD!” Arlene screams.
“Just a little more!” I say, “I can see the head.”
“God,” Arlene wails, “No one had better be taking pictures!”
“Hold that flashlight still Fluvio!” I snap.
“I think I gonna get sick,” Fluvio groans.
“Girls, hold her legs up higher,” I say to the busgirls.
“I CAN”T BELIEVE MY BABY’S GONNA BE BORN IN A RESTAURANT!” Arlene yells.
“Can’t always pick the time and place darling,” I say.
Suddenly Arlene’s husband shows up with a bouquet of flowers.
“YOU DO THIS TO ME AND ALL YOU BRING IS FLOWERS?”
Arlene’s husband just shrugs.
“Just a little more Arlene!” I cry.
Suddenly a customer walks over to Arlene and asks, “Hey, what’s the risotto today?”
“ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?!” Arlene screams. ………….
“Maybe you should have this kid in the hospital,” I say.
“I think you’re right,” Arlene replies.
Suddenly Arlene jumps.
“She’s kicking!” she says.
“Want to feel?”
I reach out and place my hand on her abdomen. And there, amidst the hustle and bustle of a busy restaurant kitchen, I experience a small moment of transcendence.
“Wow,” I manage to say.
“She’s a real kicker,” Arlene says proudly.
“You ain’t kidding.”
I place a kiss on Arlene’s forehead.
“You’re going to be a great mother,” I say.
“Thank you,’ she whispers.
I go back to work — my day infinitely brighter.
Are you a dog, or a softie? Make up your mind, man!
I love those moments. I got to feel all three of my siblings kick when my mother was pregnant (I’m the oldest of four before a 7 year gap). It’s the coolest thing in the world.
I never felt my brother kicking but I remember very clearly holding him for the first time. It was much the same, although I was only three.