mara lago
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THE DEPTHS   I’m a waiter at a fancy restaurant and today a famous, well known, well respected mathmatecian came in. He was a worried-in-the-entrance type, a break down waiting to happen. At the fancy restaurant we give recommendations on food and outfits and we hedge our customers toward the center of customary. This man was hedge-able and firmly gripping the corner of his napkin, held on his lap, knuckles whitened around the excess squeezed out of the top of his gripping hand like a jack in the pulpit. At the fancy restaurant the mathmatician spells out the words E-V-E-N-T on a table cloth in Hollandaise sauce, with dipping sticks for the straight parts of letters.

The wait staff gathers around a birthday table for a celebratory song. We sing “Wand’rin Star” by an Lee Marvin, we drone and chirp out our chords and the candles go out coincidentally before the wish on the tiramisu can take place. At the fancy restaurant we get drunk in the nights after closing and talk about the equations, balances, and formulas of the customer base. There was an Elvis impersonator and Dennis Rodman, there was a gymnast team from a former soviet state.

The table cloths are the same for each table, a light blue cotton cloth with white, gold, and blue silk screened image of saltine crackers falling from a burlap sack carried by a stork. The crackers fall down over the edge of the table into waiting mouths of sharks. The image of the stork is in the very center and the crackers fall in a spiraling 360 degrees as though the stork is flying directly upward while spinning. The waiting sharks gobble up the saltines and drag them down below into the ever darkening blues that sweep near the customers feet. These marine blues, the depths, are the edges of the cloth when laid flat, but hanging off the table they are the contrast for the khaki-panted legs of oligarchs and the thick, shaved legs of tennis players and the tattooed legs of our middle aged DJ partial owner who sits nightly in the corner drinking alone. The sharks that swim around in these depths are represented in flatter gray-blues and golds and have a wisdom in their eyes that terrifies the waitstaff. They seem uninterested in the feeding frenzy of saltines, their gaze directed outward and away from the cloth itself.

The waitstaff knows the depths better than anyone as we flit through them daily, unendingly, serving starters of prawn balls and entrees of seaweed crusted rack of lamb to an entrenched customer base. The terror of the depths grips us, locks us in a predatory distance, but the terror has recourse in the bright orange fringe that is sewn onto the hem of the table cloth. The eyes meet the fringe with a calm alarm, aware of the limits of the table cloth, pulling the depths into focus. The orange dangly mop that hangs downward is a reminder that sometimes in order to escape the depths, one must look downward, must move away from expectations and into the darkness and extreme pressure. It is a reminder that at the point of almost complete, blackened, lightless table cloth, we might find the soft and shimmering orange exit. There are those among the waitstaff who believe the fringe represents the last breath, the last gasp of air passing through a drowning brain. But most waiters maintain the interpretation that the fringe is the sublime which always encircles fatality, defining and defined by it.

Most of us on the waitstaff will remain here at the fancy restaurant, we like our jobs and we like the encounters with famous people we can take home to our sexual partners and our children and our parents. We are steadily employed.