Working late at McDonald’s and someone had decided to spray the wall behind the soda machine with ketchup.
To reach it I was given a sponge on a long handle. I leaned across the bar, scrubbing away at 11:45 on a Sunday night and cursing the idiot who didn’t understand that ketchup is one of the stickiest substances on Earth.
I stop to take a breath and glance over my shoulder to see the one person left in the place staring at me like I was the last 10 seconds of the football game he just had to tell me about on his way out.
I froze for a second, then dropped the squeegee and walked back over behind the counter to tell my supervisor about King Leer.
She threw her head back and laughed.
I tried to find other things to do in hopes he would leave when the dining room closed at midnight. That was also the end of my shift. I got tired of waiting and just climbed up on the damn counter. This creep was not going to keep me from going home.
Like every writer, I’m working on a novel. As I consider the tone of my tome I remember books and authors I have enjoyed. I feel the story has a thematic connection to the Beats, the Lost Generation of the 40s and 50s, so I tried to crack ‘On The Road’ again but I just don’t have the time to really sit and read.
Enter: audiobooks. Genius! I can read while I make dinner.
I have always sensed a kindred spirit in people who distill experience into a sharable item. I guess you’d call that Art. Kerouac talks about how he loves “the mad ones,” he tells how he finds himself following “the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing.”
The whole thing sounds a bit manic to me but I feel what he’s saying. A theme of his is enthusiasm, how much he enjoys it in others and seeks to spark it in himself.
He’s making his frantic way Westward when, half an hour in, he mentions waiting a while at a bus station before leaving, having “watched a waitress for 30 minutes.”
The action moves on in Kerouac’s characteristically speedy way, this line a throwaway to give the (admittedly dull) passage some texture.
With him watching a woman’s body while she works.
This is the part where someone will say I am making something out of nothing. There is no harm in looking. Everyone has enjoyed the scenery now and then.
But I think we all know there’s a difference between appreciating someone rocking a tight pair of jeans and treating some working stiff as a private show.
And it took me right out of the damn book! I don’t give a shit that he described Dean’s wife as “a beautiful sharp little chick.” Getting upset over slang is silly. I don’t care about the hookup scenes or the casual examples of sexism (it was the 40s, what do you want?) It was more the fact that this was part of a description of time at a bus station along with what the pie tasted like.
Before too long the whole notion of him as some kind of starry-eyed witness to Life Itself started to wear on me. I love the idea of all-night talks but I would not have been invited to these.
Where are the philosophical eddys of women writers who pioneered new frontiers of verbiage, aesthetics and drug use?
What have women been doing around kitchen tables for the last 5,000 years? Is it really nothing but homemaking and childcare?
Too often the voices saying interesting things are men’s voices. And then, with a flick of a wrist, he reminds me that I am not really invited to the party.
The weather was nice the other day, so I walked from the power company to the library. Literally next door. Waiting near the curb was a twenty-something guy with long black hair and a crutch.
He smiled. I smiled.
“I’m a sucker for a redhead!”
Good for you.
Want to see objectification in action? How about I’m not a fucking shrubbery? I was not placed here to beautify your view.
And as for Captain Creep, taking pleasure at someone else’s indignity is a violation of the social contract. No person has any dignity but what others give her.
How about I want to do my job without being scrutinized by perverts?
He hung around until I was done, making conversation on his way out the door like being nice to me made it okay. Typical self-rationalizing behavior.
I guess I will just have to create a pioneering community of intelligent women…. In between orders.