Sunday, January 07, 2007


A chance encounter with a very friendly waitress on New Year's Eve got me thinking about two other women I have gotten to know through their positions as waitresses.

It was back in 1990, in Newark, Delaware, after I had dropped out of grad school at the University of Delaware and started working for a solar cell manufacturer. One of my friends from the grad program was seeing a woman named Genie. We all continued to hang out together even after I was no longer going to school. That summer she picked up a job at a new coffee shop, the Café Americain. (It was attached to a video store and was trying to play on the name of Rick's place from Casablanca.)

The coffee shop was OK. I never spent much time in the video store - I didn't have a VCR, and DVD players were still years in the future. (Seven years, to be exact, and now they've been around for ten. Weird.) Possibly the first time I ever went in there was when I was trying to get in touch with Genie. I don't remember what it was for, I just remember riding my bike up to the place, chaining it to the steps outside, and going in looking for Genie. She wasn't there, but a pretty dark-haired bright-eyed girl was. I asked about Genie, she told me she wouldn't be in until later, and I asked if she could pass along my message. She told me yes, gave me a little smile, and the espresso machine she was filling exploded.

Well, it didn't really explode. But something happened, and the high-pressure water that is forced through the coffee grounds in an espresso machine did so while the basket was still partly opened. Damp coffee grounds shot everywhere as I was headed for the door.

I offered to stay and help clean up the mess, since I felt somehow responsible, but she shooed me away with a laugh.

I would be back.

Her name was Jessica Wolvek. She was a student at the University and worked most afternoons at the Café. I would stop in on my way home from work to get a hazelnut coffee and a cherry cheese croissant. Sometimes there were other people in the Café. Sometimes it was just me. Those times, she and I would spend a long time just talking. About...stuff. Coffee. Croissants. Relationships. Her nickname and how she got it. Life. The Universe. Everything.

Some days she wasn't there. Some of the time there was a pretty, thin, young, quiet redhead there instead. Very young - still in High School. Her name was Rejoyce Soukup. She and Jessica were friends, I think, at least through work. I would talk to her sometimes, though our conversations were not as far-reaching as with Jessica. I did learn from her, however, that the infrared signature of eggplant plants matches the infrared signature of marijuana plants, at least as far as DEA helicopters could tell in the early '90's. So that was interesting.

In time things started to change and go away. One day the Café stopped carrying the cherry cheese croissants. Then they stopped serving hazelnut coffee. After a while Jessica and Rejoyce were no longer working there, and I no longer had any reason at all to go there. Eventually the Café went out of business. Nothing ever stays the same.

Early in the morning of the first day of 2007 I found myself online and completely wound up. My mind was mulling over auld acquaintances that should not be forgot and ne'er brought to mind. I thought about Jessica and Rejoyce. Where are they now, and what are they up to?

Jessica I have looked up in the past, around the time that I discovered traces of Rindi online. Looking her up again produced fewer hits, but one was recent and quite definitely her. Jessica is now a professional flower arranger in New York City. That sounds pretty amazing. Good luck with it, kiddo. If you need flowers arranged and you live in The Big Apple, get in touch with her. Tell her I sent you!

Rejoyce should have been at least as easy to find, but her name doesn't appear anywhere I could find it as a single unit. I found her first and last names mentioned individually on a blog by a guy in the Peace Corps in Kyrgyzstan. I wasn't sure it was her until I saw a reference to Newark, Delaware and some good close-up photos. It's been almost 17 years, and I do have a touch of prospagnosia prosopagnosia, but I'm pretty sure that's her in the pictures. So the answer to "Where is she now?" is, for the moment, "Kyrgyzstan"!

It was gratifying to see that these two women who I knew so long ago are still both around and about and are both doing things that they love. Good luck to them both!

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