Mexican-Restaurant, North Jersey

Had they had different names,
or had this not been her first job
Stateside, or had the guy
just ordered instead of insisting
his knowledge of typical Hispanic
names, perhaps then, the Mexican-
American manager standing next to her
wouldn’t have doubled over
and his three friends at the table
wouldn’t have fallen on top of each other
in uproarious laughter while
the two of them stayed silent
– she not understanding,
he much chagrined.  But her name
was Ingrid.  Though fair with
sandy brown hair, she was not
six feet tall and her accent
exposed her Columbian origins.
Yes, dees ees my name.  Flirting,
he shook his head and continued
to resist, “No, it can’t be.”  Years later,
when Ingrid was at dinner
in Kansas for a conference
with a group of us, she related
the incident and still she was not
fully knowing why the ten of us
lit up the diner with guffaws and tears. 
Wat ees your name? she’d asked him, making
small talk as she’d learned while yet
in training, scoring points
with the manager beside her. 
With any other masculine name,
anyone could have easily gone with “Yes,
you look like a…”, or “the name fits you”
But because he’d answered,
Dick, and because she was new
to this country, the agreeable Ingrid
had replied gently, kindly,
Your face matches your name.

Teresa Méndez-Quigley, a Philly native, was selected Montgomery County Poet Laureate by Ellen Bryant Voigt in 2004. Her poems have appeared in four volumes of the Mad Poets Review, Drexel Online Journal, Philadelphia Poets, and many more.

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