Sunday nights at The Biltmore are slow. My manager said: “I don’t know how I feel about Sundays.” I quickly informed him that I know exactly how I feel about Sundays. I loathe Sundays. Sundays are for being hungover. Sundays are for failing to do homework. And always, always, Sundays are for goodbyes. So who’d be for Sundays?
No tables. No side work. My manager said: “Tell me a story Connelly. You just got back from Europe, you must have stories.” So I told him. That Saturday in Camden market when a shop dealer took my sister into a basement and tried to sell her a leather jacket. That Monday Night in Oxford Circus when the girl had to go to the ER because she fell on broken glass at the swanky club. My favorite one–the one about the parks and the dogs that don’t walk on leashes. Still no tables. Snippets of London. Heightened security for the Olympics. Guest lecturer talking about burkas and Muslims–she was an Italian Catholic. The weather: the rain, the heavy jackets, the one “hot” day that barely topped 80 degrees.
And then I paused and told my first really good story. “You know,” I said, “it smells like the beach here. Everywhere.” When I got off the plane and hugged my parents and my taller-than-me little brother and they said oh just wait and I stepped outside and it hit me–the heat, yes, the sun, the mugginess, the instant cling of clothes to skin. I was in a parking lot in Newport News, Virginia. It smelled like the beach. It felt like 6 PM at the beach when you wash all the salt and sand away and your hair’s still dripping and your clean clothes are so stiff with cheap detergent that they itch against your sunburned shoulders and hips. You’re getting ready to go to dinner and you may be drinking a Corona and you can’t decide if you’ll get the clam strips or scallops and that maybe life’s too good if that’s the hardest decision you have to make.
“So yeah, when I wake up here and walk outside it feels like I’m at the beach.” I didn’t feel summer in London, so I guess the heat here just smells like salt and sand. “That’s pretty cool,” said my one man audience. And maybe Sundays are for telling stories.