#538: Lavender and a Side of Mistreatment

October 5th, 2015

“That’s got to be her parents,” I said.

“I don’t know,” my date responded, pronouncing the “know” to imply skepticism over uncertainty.

“It’s got to be,” I said.

We were sitting along the Riverwalk, enjoying a glass of wine before a play. The cold hadn’t snapped yet, and amid the orange-pink sunset, we decided the lapping of the river on Rahm’s manmade shore would be the perfect start to the evening.

Orange-pink sky. A glass of red for me, white for her. Lapping green water. And lavender.

The lavender hair of the waitress getting her head scratched by the male half of an exceptionally drunk middle-aged couple.

The pair had braced the server, both leaning in and touching her the way one would touch a friend. The pat on the back. The gentle hand on the arm for attention.

And cupping the server’s head for a big ol’ scratching, with the woman of the couple laughing and apologizing for her husband in that way drunks have that implies she really thinks it hilarious.

The man of the couple was intending to be hilarious for his wife, hammed it up for his audience of one. He laughed and she laughed as he felt up the lavender-dyed hair of the woman tasked with seeing if they wanted to get some apps to go with the drink they would no doubt be buying.

Up and down, just gripping her lavender-topped head with all fingers out like he was doing a fast, repetitive version of that “egg cracking on your head” thing that kids do.

But it wasn’t a kid. This was a middle-aged man doing that to a 20-something woman just trying to handle a two-top on the Riverwalk for the pre-theater crowd.

I guess he wanted to touch lavender hair, and since this woman’s job requires civility and not pepper spraying the entitled, he thought the waitress was into it.

She made a pleasant excuse and came to check on our table.

“Did he just scratch your head?” I asked.

“Yes,” the server said, retaining a furious smile on her face and an upbeat, perky tone in case someone saw or heard he react less than chipper to having a strange man grope her head.

“We thought they were your parents.”

“Nope,” she said, flashing both angry eyes and a bright smile.

A few more pleasantries and she hustled off to get us more water and check on my hummus.

At that moment her tip doubled.

I poured beer and wine at cater bars a couple times in my 20s, but I’ve never been part of that magical server-served relationship that makes people think they can treat their fellow humans like a combination of dog, floor show and vending machine.

Last month, I screamed at a man in my favorite dive bar for doing a two-fingered shrill whistle to get the attention of the guy getting us drinks.

What makes a table a place where people run out on checks, whistle for service like they’re calling a dog, demand the world and appetizers just because they have the economic ability to hork up $50 for a night on the town?

What makes a middle-aged suburbanite think he can touch a young woman, just because she introduced herself by first name before launching into the specials?

Support 1,001 Chicago Afternoons on Patreon

More on the Riverwalk

A place with professionals

What's this?

You are currently reading #538: Lavender and a Side of Mistreatment by Paul Dailing at 1,001 Chicago Afternoons.

  • Get Stories by Email

  • Chicago Corruption Walking Tour

    Join the email list for tour dates and info.