Waiting tables at the Sheraton hotel was almost meditative - waves of tourists would fill the restaurant, shovel in their over-easy eggs, and scram. Fill coffee put in order make toast pick up eggs deliver food refill coffee drop check make change over and over and over for hours. The tourists left singles and change for tips. I made it more interesting for myself by practicing my flirting with the married line cook (stammeringly responsive) and the engaged bartender (obviously annoyed). Some guys asked me out on dates -- one whimpered every time we kissed, one was about 5 inches shorter than me, and at 19 I wasn't in the mood to be serious anyway. I hung around, washed the stains out of my polyester outfit in the sink the night before getting into my freezing car at 5 am to get to the hotel for 6:15 am, counted the dollar bills stuffed into the front pocket of my backpack once a week. I had no idea what I was going to do next.
One week this new guy, Matt, showed up. He announced that my habit of putting skim milk in my coffee was offensive and ridiculous and that I better change my ways. He swore at the ordering computer, wore his UNH sweatshirt over his tuxedo shirt and tie before and after shifts, and I thought he was funny - weird and funny. We started taking our cigarette breaks together (with cream in our coffee of course) and chatting about, well, everything. Matt was from a small town in New Hampshire, and used made up family words like 'strumph' (noun - a strong and healthy feeling, as imbued by a glass of grapefruit juice after a late night of drinking). I didn't think anything of it, of him.
Weeks at the hotel cycled around Sunday brunch. It was the best shift of the week: the least work for the most money, and the best meal for the servers afterward. All we had to do was deliver drinks and hope no one ordered food from the kitchen. So we spent a lot of time gathered in the staging area, drinking tons of coffee and snagging pastries from the kitchen.
One particular Sunday, Matt and I got annoying tables at the same time. His wanted to order pancakes, and mine wanted a bottle of wine (this was before I learned that brunch was actually for drinking). I was standing at the order computer trying to figure out how to get this damn bottle of wine when Matt put his hand on my shoulder to get my attention. It was the first time he had ever touched me deliberately. Heat radiated from his fingers through my body to the ends of my hair. The back of my brain tingled. My breath, my heart, and time stopped for a moment. When my limbs unfroze I turned around and saw... something different in his face. I didn't know what it was. I was only 19. But I knew I wanted to feel it again, to figure out what it meant.
And I knew I would.
p.s. This entry was written as an entry in The Girl Who's Great Experiment contest. Go, read, and vote!