When Spring came, I left the safety of the Mendacious Kitchen and came up into the bracing, money-making world of the Star of The Lake. I washed my hair and put on my uniform - a white jacket with gold epaulettes, white shirt, black bow tie, black pants.

To work on the Star, I let my dormouse winter self unfold into a mallard duck. A perky, blonde pony-tailed thing bouncing up with a smile to take your drink order. I learned to be American, that is I learned to use my English accent to my advantage, to charm tips out of my tables. I accepted my place in the hierachy and worked it.

The Star employed white college students as waiters and bar-tenders. Food runners were Black. Cooks went from white at the top to Dominican helpers. Dish-washers were Hispanics and worked in the hell which was the hot-steam of the dish-washing compartment in the boats belly.

Of course sometimes the racial boundaries had to be adapted to class realities. My friend Carlos was "Hispanic," but an upper class Bolivian and a film student, so he was a waiter. They hired Etienne from Haiti as a food runner, but when they realised he was a pre-med student, they promoted him to waiter. The two brothers from Iran were from the third world but with their polished good-looks and charm they were natural waiters.

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