Few Things Unnerve Me Like People Who Serve Me

There’s a high white count in what I call my sporting blood.
I’m scared of dentists, Ferris wheels, and gin.
I don’t trust trucks with trailers, dim saloons that sell to sailors,
Bargain hamburg, or the state the world is in.
But though I’m scared of cities and of Ways and Means Committees,
Of spiders, snakes, and heights, and elevators . . .
I’m more afraid of waiters,
Beauty parlor operators,
And those restless chestless men called decorators.
In smart cafés where highbrows sup and waiters with their eyebrows up
Bring menus like my old Petit Larousse,
My plans for tea and salad seem more pitiful than valid,
So I buy the works from vichyssoise to mousse.
Though I will order pheasant if the waiters look unpleasant,
In vain are all the smiles I shyly slip them.
Their faces just get tauter, till, of course, I spill my water,
And there’s nothing left to do but overtip them.
As for the bleached and brittle girls who coif my hair in little curls
Each time I ask them please to make it straighter,
In cozy booths of black and chrome, I sadly watch them hack and comb,
Doing some hairdo I must undo later.
The lowliest beauticians fill me full of inhibitions
And quickly make it plain I’m only trash to them.
They treat me like a ne’er-do-well; they never do my hairdo well,
And — powerless — I keep on handing cash to them.
The same thing happens in a store where trousered Divas of Décor
Approach me like I should have worn my sables.
My ego’s so unbolstery, I bump into upholstery
And knock the quilted chintzes off the tables.
The breezy boys who agonize and flit about like dragonflies
Deplore my tastes in voices so imperial,
I know to ask for denim would arouse their lasting venom,
So I end up buying twenty-buck material.
I’m scared of planes and trains when I go traveling.
I’m also scared I’ll lose my ticket home.
And — though I’ve done it once or twice — I’m frightened when I use
advice,
A diving board, or someone else’s comb.
But more than clubs with missions, razors, Russians, politicians,
Or airy folk who call their mothers maters . . .
I’m scared of decorators,
Beauty parlor operators,
And that surly bunch of satyrs known as waiters.