Mimi Pond Knows From Waitressing
And dishes it up perfectly in her new 'Over Easy' graphic novel
By Wayne Alan Brenner,
4:30PM, Wed. May 14, 2014
Experience shows and experience knows.
Having spent, in another life, thirteen years waiting tables in Austin's Magnolia Cafe (no, the one on Lake Austin Boulevard), I can hereby attest that Mimi Pond knows exactly what she's talking about – drawing about, here – when it comes to the more working-class, non-franchised end of the food-service industry.
The weeds of mealtime rushes, the relentless coffee refills, the hungover double-shifts, the drugs, the often contentious floor/kitchen divide, the musical-chairsesque sexual hookups with co-workers and customers, the drugs, and every shift's final insult-to-injury known as closing sidework: Pond captures the entire grease-stained, Bunn-o-Matic'd spectacle perfectly.
[Note: Yes, I know I said "the drugs" twice. Whattaya think, I'm some kind of fucking idiot?]
Over Easy, the sixth of Pond's cartoon books, is the first one that's a solid, single narrative – and we can only hope there'll be more like it. A sort of fictionalized memoir, this lovingly rendered tale follows young art-school student Madge who, suddenly bereft of scholarship funds, takes a job at The Imperial Cafe and is quickly entangled in the myriad dramas and dreams (and drugs) that come with food-ferrying drudgery. Specifically: Food-ferrying drudgery in a diner in Oakland, California, in the late Seventies. (The transitional culture depicted – the last hurrah of the hippies and the first raucous yawp of punk – is a bonus.) This is also the first Pond book from Drawn & Quarterly, the Canadian publishing house that makes books to last and to be cherished, and so of course it's afforded the excellent production values such fine work deserves.
Go ahead, buy a copy for yourself and your favorite waitron: Mimi Pond's Over Easy will 86 the blues after the lousiest shift of any year.