Here’s the story I promised! Tomorrow, I’m going to a writing event in Bayside with a good friend of mine, so I’ll hopefully have something worth posting for you guys. It’ll be my first time going to something like this, so I don’t know what to expect. All I know is that it should be exciting. Enjoy!
“Excuse me, Ma’am! Over here. Hi! Um, I don’t know if I should tell you or not, considering we’re in a professional environment, but I have something important to tell you and I’ll think you’ll like it, but if you don’t, that’s fine too, you know, since this is a free country and–”
“What’s going on, Carl?” asked the waitress.
“–and well you see, I’ve been coming here for a long time now and I really enjoy this fine-dining establishment you got here, don’t get me wrong, but there really is something important I have to ask you, if you don’t mind, of course.”
“What’s on your mind, Carl?”
“I don’t know. Forget it.”
Carl’s favorite waitress, Stacy, after he had encouragingly waved her off, held her ground, determined to get to the bottom of whatever could possibly going on in Carl’s mind. She thought there couldn’t be much going on to begin with, and it was abnormally slow in the diner, so sat down at Carl’s table and waited for him to say something.
“Why are you staring at me?” Carl asked nervously. “Is there something in my nose? I triple checked before I came because I always try to make a good impression. You’d tell me if something was there, right?”
“There’s nothing in your nose, Carl. In fact, You actually look nice today,” said Stacy in a calm, but more professional than friendly sort of way.
There was nothing nice about Carl. Carl had an abnormally large head. It was very round too, like a basketball. He had small facial features, right in the middle of his face, which did nothing to help his cause. Acne also covered his entire face from the time he was little. For some unknown reason, Carl’s acne never went away as he got older; it got worse. Most people stop and stare, and little children point and sometimes laugh, but luckily for Carl, he was too much of a social mess to understand they were laughing at him.
“Good. I always try too look my best, Ms. um…your tag seems to be missing your last name.”
“It’s not missing, Carl. There’s no need for it. I’ve told you before to call me Stacy; we’re in a diner, Carl. No need to be professional here,” Stacy said with a smile.
“That might be true, Stacy, but this is your diner. Stacy’s Diner, correct?”
“A diner’s a diner, Carl. My father’s the one that owns it anyways. He named it after me, but he’s technically–no, legally, the owner.”
“Can I have another water, Stacy? This diner gives out complementary waters with meals, yes?”
“Yes, Carl. Anything else while I’m up?”
“I’ll let you know.”
Stacy grabbed a cup of water (with extra ice) for Carl and remembered he wanted to ask her something. Carl excels in changing subjects where he is the main subject. He’d rather listen to what other people have to say about each other. Stacy has a younger brother with Autism, so she knows how to be patient with people like Carl, who might or might not be Autistic. When you live with someone with Autism, you see those characteristics in everyone, so it is sometimes hard to tell if people actually have it or not.
“One cup of water, extra ice, Carl,” said Stacy in her professionally enthusiastic way of speaking that often leads to nice-sized tips from customers, with the exception being Carl, who doesn’t understand (or like) the idea of tipping.
“You know, you don’t have to emphasize my name, Carl. I know you mean well, but some people can interpret that as being rude.”
“What did you want to ask me before, Carl?”
“I asked for a cup of water with extra ice, but you put too much ice in. Did you already forget? Are you sick? You shouldn’t be working if you’re sick, Stacy. Especially if you’re working with food, which you are. I could get sick too, you know. Do you want me to get sick?”
“No, Carl. I want to be as healthy as possible, so you could keep coming back. I enjoy talking to you, Carl. Do you like talking to me?”
“Good. Now, when you first walked in, you asked if you could ask me something. Something that might not be professional. Do you remember, Carl?”
“Will you tell me?”
“Because it’s not professional. I don’t want to upset you. You said you like talking to me and I like talking to you and I don’t want to upset you and then I wouldn’t be able to come here and talk to you.”
Stacy took a deep breath and looked over at her father not-so-secretly eavesdropping on their conversation, who smiled knowing how Carl could get sometimes.
“Who are you looking at?” Carl asked.
“My father. He’s over there. Dad! Wave so Carl can see you!”
“Hey Carl! How are you?” Stacy’s father yelled across the restaurant.
“There’s people trying to eat here,” Carl whispered to Stacy. “Tell him not to yell. He shouldn’t disturb the other patrons.”
“No one’s here, Carl. Just me and you, and my father, who’s still waiting for you to answer. Go ahead, Carl. Tell him you’re doing well.”
“Excuse me,” Carl said and got up and walked across the diner, looking around nervously for any other people trying to eat, who might be upset with him for instigating such a rude conversation in the middle of dinner hour.
“Carl! What’s wrong?”
“Nothing, I just wanted to say I’m doing well and I would like to thank you personally for the dinner.”
“It’s no problem, Carl. Now, why don’t you go back to Stacy.”
“Good idea, Sir. I don’t want to disturb anyone else.”
Carl orders a box of Bran Flakes (with no milk), a banana, and Tropicana orange juice, every day. He’s ordered the same thing everyday for the past five years. Stacy asked Carl why he doesn’t order anything from the kitchen and Carl told her he “didn’t want to be a bother.” She assured him that him ordering pancakes once in a while wouldn’t be a bother to anyone, considering they’re in a restaurant, but he went on about calorie counts, his lack of exercise, bloating, possible lactose intolerance, etc.
“Welcome back, Carl!”
“What did my father tell you?”
“Did you tell him you were doing well?” asked Stacy in a tone similar to an overprotective mother.
“Yes, and that I enjoyed the dinner he prepared.”
Stacy had prepared it, but she knew it would only upset Carl. Carl would feel embarrassed for complimenting the wrong person and either insist on making it up to him, which wasn’t necessary, or run out of the restaurant crying, forcing Stacy to run after him because he has violent tendencies that sometimes get him into trouble.
He won’t hurt anyone, but he’ll hit inanimate objects and sometimes harm himself by hitting his head against walls. Stacy found him once against the side of an abandoned warehouse, hitting his bloody head against the brick wall. She followed the line of cars that had dents in them and whose alarms were going off as well. She managed to calm him down and bring him back to the restaurant. People obviously called the police, but Stacy’s father reassured them that Carl was fine and he would pay for the damages.
“Carl,” Stacy said, snapping Carl out of deep concentration.
“You frightened me, Stacy.”
“I’m sorry, Carl. You know I didn’t mean to scare you,” she said, placing her hand on Carl’s arm for reassurance, but he quickly pulled it back, unsure of what was going on. “You wanted to ask me something when you got here, Carl. I won’t be offended if you ask. I just want to know what’s on your mind.”
“I’m not interested in a relationship with you, Stacy. I’d prefer it if we keep things casual, if you don’t mind.”
Carl constantly misinterprets moments of sympathy for sexual advances, turning off most women that actually manage to get past his giant acne-covered head. Carl’s inability to decipher these types of social-cues often is misinterpreted as being misogynistic. Stacy knows this isn’t the case, so she patiently and gratefully looks past his comments.
“Why would you grab my arm like that?
“I don’t know, Carl. I wanted to reassure you I wouldn’t be offended. I didn’t mean it as anything else.”
“What would you be offended about?”
“When you came in the restaurant, you sat down, ordered your food, drank your water, and asked me if you could ask me something. You changed your mind because you didn’t want to offend me, so I’m reassuring you that I won’t be offended if you ask, so ask away.”
“Are there any other waitresses working here?”
“How’s that possible? You’d have to work all day without a break.”
“That’s right, Carl. I’m a hard worker. My mother comes in to help sometimes when she gets out of work.”
“I’ve never seen you’re mother here. Does she look like you?”
“Yes she does. What did you want to ask, Carl? I’m not letting it go.”
“I’d like another waitress, Stacy.
“What do you mean, Carl?”
“I want someone who could act more professionally towards me. You’re a nice young lady, but you treat me more like a friend rather than a paying customer. Now, you’re touching me inappropriately and I don’t want you to get in trouble for being so close to me all the time. I’m not comfortable with this type of relationship.”
Carl ran out of the restaurant, forgetting to pay for his cereal. With tears in her eyes, Stacy paid for his dinner and hugged her father.
“Don’t get too hung up, Stacy. He’ll going to be back tomorrow. He always comes back. All those years of hitting his head apparently destroyed his memory. Just do your best to keep him happy and know that there’ll be days like this where things don’t work out. Learn from this today and start fresh tomorrow.”