I am about to tell you a tale.
It is up to you to decide what to make of it.
Everything in this story is true.
And for the past seventeen years there have been moments where I have questioned the validity of my memory. Thankfully, it has remained the same after all of these long years. However, it does not make the story any less strange:
When I was nineteen I worked as a hostess at a little steak restaurant in town. The owners were a really cool laid-back couple in their thirties. Every girl that worked in the joint had a crush on the owner. We’ll just call him Derek*. He had long dark wavy hair that caressed the collar of his button-down cowboy shirt (the type of buttons that snap… And unsnap quickly, if you get my drift), a Brad Pitt smile, brown gleaming eyes, the sexiest whisper of a voice, and he wore his jeans well. Sorry for all of the sordid details. I wanted to get the details right for the story’s sake, of course.
Well, actually, Derek had nothing to do with the story, but I thought it would be fun to throw him in. For
my your dreams tonight. It will make the story I am telling a little less disturbing.
So, there I was. At the hostess counter. The restaurant was extremely busy. The bar was full. We were operating on a short staff. We had an hour and a half wait. And us two hostesses were being swarmed with customers. Hungry customers, who after ten minutes into their hour and a half wait, would be coming up to us demanding to know where they were on the list. This wouldn’t be so bad if just one person did it, but it seemed that many folks parading around under the title of “adult” were terrible at time management.
And would come up every ten minutes to check our magic list. Because time must work differently on it.
This is why we always gave a wait time longer than we expected it to be. And, beside each name, the time we had given them to expect to wait was written.
That’s a little hostess trick I’m givin’ ya. And my second gift in this post.
Again, you’re welcome.
I might have also been slightly irritated that the white crayon I had been whittling with a steak knife had had to be put away to deal with the crowd. And also why today, there is one less whittler and one less crayon sculpture in the world.
This is where my gifts to you end.
Somehow, in the midst of all of this, in through the crowd, stalked a short little old man.
He is the center of our story.
He was as real as you and me.
He had a long white beard. A face full of leathered wrinkles. A large hawk nose. Beady little eyes. And a scowl larger than the whole of his entire body.
He also could not have been taller than five feet. In my memory he was as tall as the bottom of my rib cage, but that seems entirely impossible. And so for you I say, “under five feet.” In my head I say, “as tall as my rib cage.” You may choose to believe whichever you choose. It is just a small part of the story. He was not a “little person” as we know them today. He was just a very short…Very grumpy…Very odd little old
He came up to the hostess booth and asked me how long the wait would be. I asked him if he was by himself (this is because parties of one are quicker to seat). He was.
I told him his wait would be an hour.
Then I asked him for his name.
And he told me.
And I stared at him.
I asked him again.
And he told me.
And I laughed.
I could not believe it. It was the best joke of the night.
The little old man’s cheeks flushed red with anger. In my memory, he stomped his wee feet. But this is the part I think I might have exaggerated. For this story’s sake, though, we will say he stomped his feet in a mad little rage. He asked me why I was laughing.
And this is what I said, “Your name. Why, that can’t possibly be your name!”
He just stared at me. And stared at me. Until I picked up my pen.
“Okay. How do you spell that?” I inquired. It was at this point I began to suspect he was quite serious. And it was at this point I began to wonder if the air in the restaurant had been drugged.
“R-U-M-P-E-L-S-T-I-L-T-S-K-I-N,” he sharply spelled out, all the while giving me a stare that would have shriveled straw.
“Okay, Rumpelstiltskin. I will call you when your table is ready.”
The little old man stalked off towards the bar.
Our hostess desk continued to be bombarded. And I put the strange man out of my head for a time.
Until his name was the next to he called.
“Rumplestiltskin, your table is ready.”
Snickers from the impatient crowd.
Two more times I called his name and two more times there was no answer.
For the last time, I said, “Final call for Rumplestiltskin. Rumplestiltskin, this is your final call.”
I never imagined that those words would be uttered from my lips.
I really never imagined any of the situation would have have occurred to me.
And that it would indeed be not an imagination.
Rumplestiltskin never did answer my call.
Maybe he had heard we had a magic list at that hostess desk and he was disappointed to learn the truth of it.
I think he left, because he was upset that he told me his name.
Either that, or the fact, that I cannot spin straw.
But it is definitely one of those two.
There really is no other explanation.
My having laughed at the poor man being entirely out of the mix.
* Derek is the only part of this story that is made up. The name, that is. The man, well, he was oh so real.
P.S. This absurd and 100% true account was written for The Daily Post’s Weekly Writing Challenge: Power Of Names.