TANDY VERSYP Staff Writer
I scanned the dining room in hopes of a table but the economy hasn’t been stimulated enough for many people to open their wallets on a Wednesday night for moderately priced steaks. Sometimes waiting tables is like “Waiting For Guffman,” minus the adorable Parker Posey.
I made my usual route around the restaurant—really a way to avoid running food—and as I turned the corner to walk past the host stand, I saw her.
My pace quickened and upon entering the kitchen, another server, Lizzi, bumped into me.
“Oh my God, Lizzi.”
“What?” she asked conspiratorially. The kitchen is not only where the food is made but also where each rude customer is dissected on a hot plate.
“No, nothing bad. It’s…” I couldn’t hold onto my hate for exclamation points any longer. “She’s here!”
“Who is here?”
Before I walked into the dining room again, the entire restaurant staff knew that Ruby Gettinger was sitting at table 37.
For those of you who don’t have cable or live without pop culture saturation, Ruby Gettinger is the star of Style Network’s reality series “Ruby,” about the former 715-pound, now 364-pound Savannahian’s struggle to drop down to a healthy, livable weight. “Ruby” premiered with the highest ratings of any Style Network show, making the local woman an “overnight sensation.”
Even though I loathe the Style Network, it only took me two seconds to fall in love with Ruby and her show. In fact, it was the last two seconds in the opening credits of the show when Ruby danced to the schmaltzy, empowering theme song. Her face and charisma could launch more ships than Helen of Troy, even with her diagnosed weight problem.
Usually the wait staff members at my restaurant are grumpy, hard-working cynics who tease each other relentlessly to cope with the demands of mostly unappreciative customers. But when Ruby was at table 37, everyone bustled with sincere excitement.
Why was that? Ruby Gettinger is by no means a big-name celebrity. Half of the staff hadn’t seen the show, but as Laura, Ruby’s server, said, “I don’t have a clue who she is, but every time I walk up to the table, I have this big, s*** eating grin on my face.”
The pop culture zeitgeist is constantly changing, bringing us new household names. Many of these names are spoken with relished disgust, much like how servers gossip about customers—we need these customers to pay our bills, but we still resent them. It’s a strange, codependent relationship.
When Ruby ordered her food, everyone assaulted Laura with one question, “What is she eating?” We all wanted to know if Ruby’s show was a real glimpse into her struggle to survive, or just a ruse for attention.
We gave a plop-plop-fizz-fizz-oh-what-a-relief-it-is sigh when we were told she ordered the salmon with mixed veggies. Ruby’s sincerity was intact.
Ruby is a different kind of celebrity. She is famous for simply wanting to survive to see another day. She doesn’t want money. She doesn’t want fame. Just to live. The celebrity she has achieved doesn’t cloud her head with false pride, but with more drive to succeed.
Although I didn’t participate in order to hold onto my dignity, the rest of the staff sang the obnoxious, cringe-inducing birthday song to Ruby, even though it wasn’t her birthday. I watched from a distance as she lit up with genuine glee.
You’ve got to respect a celebrity who doesn’t inspire cynicism, but melts it.