I finally arrived at the Manchester, New Hampshire airport around nine at night. We fly in there because it takes less time to get to my grandparents house in a Boston suburb from Manchester than it does from the Boston airport. Traffic and all that.
We were supposed to get there at five, but there was so much snow in Manchester that we had to divert to Boston, wait for the snow to pass, and then return to Manchester.
I actually like the delay, though. I love everything about traveling, including being stuck on a plane doing nothing. There's something very pleasant about being totally isolated from the rest of the world.
I got to climb up on the baggage carousel at the airport. A bag's handle got stuck in the conveyer belt, so I tried to be a hero and dislodge it. In my dream world it would have become dislodged and I'd get a short but exhilarating ride on the baggage carousel. They always look so fun.
My grandparents picked up my mother and I.
"Are you two hungry?"
We were, so we went to Bertucci's in North Andover (I give the exact location so that people nearby can go experience my story firsthand if they want). As we drove by it looked closed.
There were still some cars in the parking lot, though.
Sure enough, they were open for another twenty minutes. The place was otherwise empty... surely the staff was hoping to leave a little early.
The hostess got up from the table she was sitting at and went behind the podium at the front of the restaurant.
She was trying her best not to show her disappointment.
We sat down and began poring over the menu. When I go to a new restaurant I have to look at every single dish and assess the level of offensive ingredients in each one. I try to find the best dish that will allow the fewest substitutions to become acceptable. Taste has nothing to do with it - I just don't want to be that annoying customer.
"Hey guys! My name is Amy!"
Amy looked to be about 16. Average height, wiry build, and long frazzled red hair in a ponytail. Huge brown eyes.
She stood with her head cocked one way and her hips the other way. She was smiling, but there was something peculiar about her smile.
It wasn't that forced I-am-a-waitress-robot smile, but rather a smile of genuine happiness. We all noticed and were shocked.
"What can I get you guys to drink?"
"I'll have a martini, extra dry... " began my grandfather.
"A martini! I'm a martini girl myself!"
Really? She's old enough to drink?
"That's my kind of girl! How do you drink yours?"
She squinted and scrunched up her face a little bit. Depending on the age of consent in Massachusetts and her actual age, it may have even been alluring.
"Dirty. REALLY dirty."
"I like a lot of olive juice, and just a little vermouth. It's REALLY good. Do you want to try it? I'll go make it for you myself."
My grandfather smiled. Hurricane Amy had hit our table and we had no idea what to make of her. Equally surprising was that my grandfather agreed to have his martini her way. He's so particular that even I, a non drinker, know exactly how he likes them.
Despite us just beginning to eat our entrees at closing time, Amy was in no rush to get rid of us. In what is no doubt her signature pose, with her hips and head cocked, she stood next to our table talking to us for quite a while.
I talked about my trip. She talked about how often she gets arrested.
Finally we finished and she brought the check. She commented on my grandfather's credit card.
"Amy, do you have a credit card?"
"Yeah. A few of them!"
She rolled her eyes a bit. She never said anything that wasn't accompanied by some sort of facial expression or hand gesture.
"And do you pay the balances in full every month?"
My grandfather is in the credit business, but it still seemed a little personal.
"Ha! I wish!"
"Amy... you have to pay your balances in full. Otherwise you'll always be in debt. What are your interest rates?"
Much to the amusement of my grandmother, my mother, and myself, they launched into a full conversation about her credit situation.
"I'm not THAT bad! I don't just pay the minimums!"
"Now Amy... I pay my full balance every month. It's important. My daughter pays her balance every month. Tynan pays his balance every month. You need to pay every bill as soon as you get it. You get thirty days, but forget that! Don't be a floater. Me? I'm a floater. You shouldn't be a floater. Don't float, Amy."
She gave us her full schedule so that my grandfather could check on her financial progress.
"I work here Tuesday nights and Wednesday nights. Then the rest of the nights except for Saturday I work at another restaurant. On Saturdays I go downtown and dance."
Instantly all four of us thought the same exact thing.
"She's a stripper!"
But she wasn't. She teaches kids ballet.
We left the restaurant and immediately all started talking about Amy and how great she was.
"That's the best waitress I've ever had!"
"She was amazing!"
"Did you think she was a stripper too?"
It's two days later and we're still talking about her. At our dinner tonight we remarked that our waiter was "no Amy". I'm even writing a blog entry about her (and these days I write like... 1 a month). I can't remember the last time I even remembered a waitresses' name.
Amy really drove home the importance of being totally authentic at all times. We were two senior citizens, a middle aged woman, and me, and she didn't even think to filter herself. She giggled and told us about how she kept getting arrested without ever thinking about what we'd think of her.
And you know what? We all appreciated it.
How come u didn't pick her up Tynan... I was looking forward for that since the second u mentioned her!
I highly recommend taking your grandparents to Grassfield's Food and Spirits up in Andover (or Waltham). Good fare for good prices, plus you'll feel as if you stepped onto a set of extras for Golden Girls. There may not be any Amys there, and it's probably not the most vegan-friendly place in the world, but as my atheist friend puts it, the chicken teriyaki with rice pilaf is the closest he'll ever come to a religious experience.
Why does everyone always comment about something related to pick-up on 90% of the blogs? Despite the amount of time I talk to Tynan online, or spend hanging out in the RV with him, he probably only mentions pick-up related things .01% of the time unless I specifically bring it up. So shut up and enjoy the good stories!
great post Tynan, I loved the story...
it's amazing how charismatic people can be when they throw themselves into their own frames and comfort zones, because other people will get sucked into them...
Wow, I hope she stays that way and doesn't end up jaded and cynical like most chicks I meet when they hit their late 20s and older.
As far as I was concerned, she was perfect. She was at least as smart as I was, was a dancer and had the body to prove it, and had a smile that could disarm the national guard. Let's call her Julie.
So, like an earthworm stalking it's prey, I put my usual game on her. Since my last flowchart was so popular, I've made another one to show you how I dealt with the ladies back then:
Nedless to say, things went slowly. We hung out nearly every day for the last couple months of our Senior year summer vacation. Like many guys, I was totally oblivious to her attraction for me. One morning Julie came over really early while I was still sleeping, and squeezed into my twin bed with me. I woke up, and assumed that she must be tired - it didn't even occur to me that she might like me. Finally on the last week of that vacation she said to me,
I'm listening to Jonathan Richman's eponymous album from 1989. You can hear the influence of Lou Reed in this stripped-down album, along with Jonathan's own off-kilter sense of lyricism and humor. And he is no slouch when playing guitar, either, with a style somewhere between Lou Reed and Mark Knopfler. Talking about stripped-down, and not being a slouch, Normandie Wilson released her latest album, "Until the Whole of My Heart is Yours", this past Friday, November 21, and it is wonderful!
I stumbled upon Normandie when she performed this past June during the Art Around Adams music and art walk. The first thing that attracted me to her was "the look" - a pastiche of 60s pop/jet-set cultcha. My first thought was "Wow. Is she serious about what she is doing or is this a parody?". I decided I had to hear more, and know more about this curious, accomplished artist. I purchased her album "Geography and Other Problems" which is every bit worthy of its nomination for best pop album at the 2014 San Diego Music Awards. It was recorded in several locations, from Sweden to San Diego, with an impressive roster of musicians backing her up. I began stopping by the Lafayette Hotel lobby after work when I was in town, to listen to Normandy at the piano, singing pop standards, primarily from the 60s. This is where I got to know her as a person. She is always dressed to the nines in 60s style and wigged-out, literally, not figuratively; she is quite grounded in reality once you get to know her. Normandie has a passion for 60s pop culture, and it shows not only in her attire, but in the music selections she plays and in her own writing. She is a big fan of Burt Bacharach, The Beach Boys, and The Zombies, and also Cole Porter, ELO, Joni Mitchell, Laura Nyro, and Amy Winehouse. You can hear the influences but never anything derivative. Her style is hers and hers alone. And I do believe Nomandie is one of the hardest working and prolific artists I've encountered in San Diego. Not only that, she has perspective, and is very involved in social causes in our community when she is not writing, rehearsing, painting, dancing, or performing. She doesn't stand still for a moment! The consummate artiste.
So what about this new release? It is stripped-down; just voice and piano. It plays like a diary of relationship concerns, which reminds me of Joni Mitchell's writing, but sounds nothing like Mitchell. Modern realities are thrown into a mid-60s pop style. Her piano is informed by Bacharach but is uniquely Normandie. Dave Fleminger recorded Normandie at Rarefied Recording in North Park, San Diego. On this, Normandie plays her Boston baby grand which was shipped from West Virginia to its new home at Rarefied Recording several months ago. According to Normandie, she and Dave spent two 12-hour days recording 25 of her songs, nine of which became "Until the Whole of My Heart is Yours". Not only is the sound and feel of this very personal, the sound is right up close to you, literally putting her lyrical thoughts inside your head, as you sit at the piano. Her vocals are expressive, from delicate vulnerability to joyful declarations of love. It is difficult to listen without letting the the music affect your own emotional state. She reaches into your soul with her words, finding commonality. We've all been through the pains of bad relationships as well as the sheer joy in the blossoming of the new. Normandie is painting pictures with these songs. Pictures of relationships gone wrong as well as right; and she describes the ups and downs within a relationship as two people struggle to make it work - sometimes having to sacrifice and put in lots of effort, as well as times where things come easy and effortlessly. I love this album.
Speaking of the effortless, Normandie is surprised that she is getting so much positive response to this release, since she said it was so easy to do compared to the last full release. "Geography and Other Problems" was a much bigger production; more intricate musically involving many more players. I think the secret of the responses to "Until the Whole of My Heart is Yours" is that it is reality brought into focus. We can all identify with it. And yet it is such a personal statement it makes one feel you are spying on Normandie's private life. Not to say that Geography wasn't a set of pictures of Normandie's life and relationships; it was. But the stripped-down nature of this gives you her words without any distractions; Normandie without her wigs and exquisite appearance. This is the real deal. Her inner beauty shines through with this release. Heart touching heart. It reminds me of John Lennon's first solo work, "John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band". Sometimes simplicity is required when describing the human condition.
What about the Cranberries and Mounds of Merries?