Thursday, November 21, 2013

A Letter from Texas ©2013 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

Dear Cousin Earl:
     I'm sorry you haven't heard much from me since I left Mississippi and moved here to Dallas, Texas. I dialed your phone last week but I guess you weren't home or maybe you're still trying to duck calls from the draft board. Too bad there isn't a way to know who's calling before you answer. Heck, I think it'd be nifty to have a phone you can carry around like a transistor radio you can talk on. Of course, that'll never happen but it's fun to think about.
     I'm real lucky to have landed myself a pretty good job. I wait tables at The Dreamlifter Restaurant in the Statler Hilton Hotel. It's kind of like what our poor, homely old Aunt Melinda—you remember her, don't you?—does at the Cotton Patch Café up in Holly Springs, except my place is a lot swankier. Anyway, I told them I'd been a waiter at The Secession House over in Jackson for two years and they bought it. I figured nobody'd want to spend all that money calling long distance just to find out about me and I guess I was right.
     It's kind of a tough job but I like it  OK and the tip money's pretty great. I just wait on customers and then when they pay, they put an extra ten per cent on top of it that I get to keep. Shucks, it's not unusual for folks to leave me 15%, sometimes even 20! Plus the hotel pays us .13¢ an hour on top of the tips. I'm darn near rich!
     Our customers can come in here and order up some alcohol (except on Sundays, of course) and not just beer but wine and even whiskey and it's all legal and legit. That's just one of the lots of ways here's different from back home. We've got both kinds of wine here too, Burgundy and Chablis. I'm trying to learn more about them, like how to look really swell opening the bottles at the tables (!) and why the only good wine is from France.
     When I take people's orders, I have to write 'em down on a piece of carbon paper. I have to use this complicated secret code they made us learn called abbreviations. Then I ring up the orders on this expensive ciphering machine they got back by the kitchen. Then I tear off one of the pieces of carbon paper and put it on this thing called the wheel and the cooks usually start making it. My work-friend Otis said that someday soon just ringing up an order on the ciphering machine will automatically make it appear to the cooks in the kitchen and save a lot of wear and tear on my Florsheim shoes (I think I  got mine at Kresge's) but I'm calling cow-poop on that. I don't think they'll be able to do some Twilight Zone crap like that even 50 years from now.
     The other night after work our chef, Pierre, invited some of us over to his swanky apartment. He's a real nice fellow although he's kind of persnickety about how a lot of things at work get done. He's about 50 and is kind enough to let our new Cuban busboy, Jiminez, be his roommate, even though Jiminez can't be more than 20. They need to get a bigger apartment, too. I noticed they only have one bedroom and one bed. I guess they take turns sleeping on the couch.
     Pierre just got back from a vacation in Europe. He has a nice hi-fi set-up and played us a record album he brought back. It's an English combo called The Beatles. And I gotta tell ya, they're pretty good. If they were American, they might even have a chance to get popular here, too. Pierre brought out these funny, hand-rolled cigarettes and told us to "be cool," whatever that means. They smelled like a cross between shit and a lespedeza stack caught on fire but we passed 'em around and I got to feeling pretty good from them. I need to check and see if Camel or Philip Morris make anything like them that I can maybe buy at Walgreens.
     I've been hoping to meet some girls here in Texas. Our restaurant is pretty fancy so they won't let any women wait tables here and all the housekeeping ladies are 45-year-old Mexicans. There is one girl I really like here. She fixes salads in our kitchen. Her name's Betty. She's real pretty and super nice and I like her a lot and I'm always wanting to kiss her. The only problem is that Betty's a negro! Don't tell my Daddy about this, OK?
     President Kennedy is going to be here in Dallas tomorrow. He's gonna ride through town in his cherry presidential Lincoln limousine and then make a speech. I'm off work and I think I'll go see him. I like President Kennedy a lot. But I might not go. I'm from the same small town in Mississippi you are and I'm still not used to the big city crowds something like this will bring. It's no big deal either way. The president is a healthy young man and I'm sure I'll have plenty of other opportunities to see him in person.