The Restaurant by Sarah Hoenicke

When I first started at The Restaurant, one of the guys was dumb enough to tell my sister, jokingly, that he and three others were going to gang-rape me.

She carries a knife.
She assured him she had no problem using it.

He laughed at her reaction and everybody moved on. It stuck with me, this fact that guys not only thought I was attractive–they also wanted to have sex with me.

In a group.

During the following two years at The Restaurant, I would be introduced to a sexual culture; a world in which I was ranked #2 on the Best Ass List, one in which I made out with boys behind the dumpsters, letting them push me up against the wall and make my breasts sore.

The first guy I dated, Boobs, while working at The Restaurant had stuffed boobs hanging from the rear view mirror.
In his topless jeep.

Another left me unexpectedly, right after we had sex for the first time.
To go to rehab.
I call him Drugs.

Now, my own upbringing and personality had a lot to do with the shock and thrill I felt upon learning of the overwhelming sexuality of the restaurant world. I came to work the first day thinking that when a guy told you that he wanted to marry you or that he loved you he meant it, and that when a guy said you were pretty, he meant he loved you and wanted to marry you. I prided myself on my intellect, even then, but I also drew most of my self-worth from the way I thought people (men) perceived me. I wanted them to want me.

Anyway. I was home-schooled from kindergarten to graduation. My diploma was a piece of paper that my mother printed out and handed to me in the front of the church as I stood next to the rest of the graduating class of 2008, all three of them. I wouldn’t wear a gown, though the other three did, and I wanted nothing to do with speeches.

My education had been a joke, and I’d known that for a long time. I’d done my best to teach myself about the things I was interested in (which was everything). Despite the fact that I really was reasonably intelligent, I had no self-confidence of which to speak. I wanted boys to give me worth, and The Restaurant had many specimens for me to experiment with and try on.

I’ve already mentioned two, Boobs and Drugs. There were other guys too, ones I didn’t actually work with, but that came in through The Restaurant.

There was Pig.
He was 23 when I met him, and he told his mom and dad (the latter was with whom he still lived) that I was 19.
He lied.
I was actually 17.

All he wanted was to get into my pants. Pig always talked about how great it would be to take my virginity. I never gave it up to him.

There was Hawaii. Quite a few of the customers I ended up dating came from other places to our Little Town because of the military base there. Hawaii was one of them. So he was visiting our Little Town, and he came to The Restaurant, and I served his table. I was mean to him, like I was to most guys, and, like most guys, he enjoyed it. Whenever I’d flirted well enough to be left a number, I also had flirted well enough to get a sizable tip. If they didn’t tip well, why would I ever call? 

Hawaii tipped well, and I went out with him when I got off work. 

We had a decent time in his hotel room, but didn’t go any further than making out.

He left to go back to the Islands the next morning, and I didn’t expect to hear from him. Hawaii was just another in the long line of Hickey Leavers I was gathering.

I did hear from him though.
Quite often. 
He would call on Skype and we would talk and I would try to look cute, and then one day we had an argument about politics or something. We didn’t talk for a month. 

I forgot about him.

That was when I started dating Drugs.
Drugs and I were working together at The Restaurant one night. I was in the back, stocking sugar packets or some other horrible thing, when Drugs walked through the swinging metal door to the kitchen with a big bouquet of flowers in his hand.
My face lit up.
I really liked Drugs.

“These are for you,” he said “from a guy at the front.”
He set them down and I picked them up, wondering, laughing inside at the weirdness that had just happened. I walked through the bar, and there he was.
Hawaii had flown all the way from Hawaii, just to see me, without talking to me first.

I was dating Drugs.
And had no interest in Hawaii.

“I’m dating this guy,” I point him out. “Drugs.”

Hawaii sat in the bar and got stupendously drunk while I went home feeling awkward.

Thirty minutes later, there was a knock, and there was Drugs, flowers in hand, standing at my apartment door.
“I couldn’t have other guys giving my girl flowers.” 

Oh well. The end to this tale of dalliances is that I eventually got out of that hell-hole, The Restaurant.

There is one guy whose memory sticks adamantly with me.
His name was Manager.
He was more than that though. Sometimes he was Father, sometimes Brother, and always Comedian. I got sick, really sick, from antibiotics during my second year there and he called me every day.
Not to see when I was coming back to work, but to see how I was feeling.

He said to be healthy, really rock-solid healthy, all I had to do was, “Smoke a lot of cigarettes, drink a lot of Jack, and eat a lot of garlic.” Those three. 
Now I’ve got the secret to life.

Thank god it has nothing to do with Drugs, Boobs, or Hawaii.