the hierarchy of desire

image courtesy angelica maria zorrilla via Flickr

image courtesy angelica maria zorrilla via Flickr

With both aching arms outstretched and loaded with plates (tightrope catwalk, hot plate crucifixion), she walks slowly across the dining room to table 19 and places the plates down in front of the bodies that ordered them.

Escargot Bourguignon. Pasta puttanesca. Squab, burrata and truffled fig, fingerling. ” She rolls the syllables around in her mouth like bits of velvet. If you saw her, you’d see eyes glistening wetly as if she were intoning a love poem she’d written herself, but no one looks up from their plates.

At table 8, she introduces herself (I am your hole-filler, your anonymous food-bringer, faceless feeder), takes their order, and scoots back to the kitchen where her boss, Mulholland, is waiting by the door. His lips are pursed, but he’s not asking for a kiss. “Full hands in, full hands out,” he reminds her, and his eyes inspect her so thoroughly it feels surgical.

When she first started working here, her apron could not conceal her effervescent flesh but now she can wrap the apron strings around twice and still has enough left to tie a bow. Night after night of describing meals she won’t taste and taking orders and filling glasses without spilling a drop and whisking away the bones of evidence has whittled her appetite away, has taught her her place in the hierarchy of desire.

Back in the dining room, she moves unnoticed from table to table, pouring water and wine. The metal clank of silverware and wet eating sounds are stifled by white tablecloths and candlelight. At table 11, she pulls the check from her pocket and places it midpoint between the man and woman seated there.

The man clears his throat. “A good waitress knows where to put the check.” His candlelit face is impenetrable. The woman’s eyes are fixed on the last inch of wine in her glass, as if she and the wine are deep in conversation. “If you want me to pay, you’ll have to do better.”

She picks up the check and places it down again, right next to his huge, meaty hand and cufflinked wrist which doesn’t move.

He clears his throat again. “I have to say, I expected more from this place. Overall, this meal just was not satisfying.”

“I’m so sorry to hear that, sir,” she murmurs, assuming the proper position: eyes wide, head stooped, hand on heart. “Please tell me what we could have done better.”

“Where do I begin?” He licks his lips. “The salad was overwhelmed and the the oysters were flaccid.”

“I’m so sorry. Let me adjust your total.” She makes a move to pick it up, but he isn’t done talking. “The veal was insipid, a complete waste of life.” He flicks a crumb off his chest and continues. “And that pinot—that tinny aftertaste—as annoying as a whine.” The bottle—the second of two they ordered—sits to the woman’s right, completely empty. “Your menu called it a floral bouquet, but I’d call it effeminate.” He glances at the woman, whose eyes are frozen on her glass, before adding, “And I let me tell you, cruelty-free foie gras is missing one key ingredient.”

Later that night after work, she will go home and fill the bath with hot water. She will kick off her shoes, step out of the black clothes, and slide in. She will rub every inch of her skin, raking her fingernails down her arms and thighs and the soles of her feet until it hurts, until she feels soft and tender and alone again. Then she will think about desire and yearn to desire and be desired, but not that way, not that one-on-top-and-the-other-on-the-bottom way, not that hard versus soft, giver-taker thing but something else she’s never seen before, something penetrated and penetrating at the same time, eating and being eaten, fiercely tender and gently callous, opposites true simultaneously, eye to eye and winking. She wants to feel de-sired, a stallion mounted by a mare topped by a snake eating its own tail, a skewered snail stuffed at both ends, a pair of earthworms spiraling diagonally through soft earth up to the stars, and the longer her hands rub, the softer she becomes, and the more the hands feel the skin, the more the skin feels the hands, until she’s no longer hungry.

About Anna Fonté

Girl in the Hat, aka Anna Fonté, is an author who writes about invisibility, outsider status, everyday monsters, and her attempts to befriend the neighborhood crows. The things she writes want you to look at them.


  1. Holy Moly, hot tamale! Succulent writing, Anna. Made me hungry for more, I want MORE!

  2. I waited on that couple once, but that bath! I need to take that bath 🙂 Loved it.

  3. You drew me right in. What a great way to diet! Just trade desires…

  4. gailytr

    loved it, especially the brevity. finely cut.

  5. aqilaqamar

    I am seduced by the words 😉

  6. aqilaqamar

    why do I feel this girl is you maybe a you that you now notice at being someone irreducible sorry had to say it

  7. aqilaqamar

    Reblogged this on Iconography ♠ Incomplete and commented:
    “Then she will think about desire and yearn to desire and be desired, but not that way, not that one-on-top-and-the-other-on-the-bottom way, not that hard versus soft, giver-taker thing but something else she’s never seen before, something penetrated and penetrating at the same time, eating and being eaten, fiercely tender and gently callous, opposites true simultaneously, eye to eye and winking”
    These lines I relate with so much and I loved this piece of writing

  8. My first read of the day. It’s going to be very hard to top.

  9. What I wouldn’t give to write like you do. (tightrope catwalk, hot plate crucifixion: holy fuck) Beautiful, Anna, and smart as hell.


  10. Beautiful and painful at once. I’d like to read more, more!

  11. Todd

    My Cambodian wife just took me to the Royal Cambodian Ballet… a mesmerizing, alluring and beautiful art once reserved for the king’s court and only imagined by the everyone else. Your writing is like that… and should be reserved too, I don’t deserve it.

    I tried waiting tables once and got fired for the FU written large on my face at each curt request.
    I’m left thinking of the adage about desires defining and enslaving too.

    -missed ya!

    • Todd! I waited tables once more than a quarter of a century ago and that was quite enough. Missed you, too. The new job is taking up a lot of headspace, but maybe I’m regaining balance…. xoox

  12. Crikey, that was worth the wait–you haven’t blogged here since, what, 1987? Just kidding; I’m merely warming up for a post I’ve been meaning to write, for a long time, about the fact that my blogging friends were, according to me, put on earth to entertain me on a regular basis.
    You just plain stand out from the rest most of the time, dear Anna.
    What a great line about the foie gras missing one key ingredient, which I assume is the thing it’s free of ( I’m trying and failing here to state the obvious without stating the obvious, ha ha)?
    Welcome back–missed you.

    • Kevin! Whenever my blogging friends step away from their computers for too long, I start feeling like a creepy stalker person, inches away from sending them personal messages asking them if everything’s okay. If I knew where you lived, you’d be sorry. xoox

  13. Great writing! You held my attention to the very last word.

  14. First of all, the title! Oh my. The imagery is fab. The apron strings wrapping twice around her! The depth of frustration that leaks from these words. And then there’s that ever-surprising desire…

  15. jmpod

    Beautiful. You’ve pricked my own wistfulness for desire. Thank you.

  16. Hi,This is the first blog I read on this website as I am a newcomer. I must say,your writing is overwhelming and captures the reader’s 100% attention. Would you give me some tips on how to get started? On how to write good blogs?

  17. Reblogged this on Mull over a melody and commented:

  18. Apphiaone

    wow, loved it, quite subtle! …♥jjf

  19. Incredible and truthful desire described by a master liver of life 🙂 Love it.

  20. itsjess

    I’m reading this as I am at the hostess stand. Looking forward to that bath.

  21. Awsmm… piece pf writing. I have just read and i want to read more. Its like now i desire to read you, what you have written and going to write in future. I liked it beyond words.

  22. Wonderful! Beautifully written and so poignant!

  23. cahyanaerfian

    siput yang sangat menarik

  24. Wow…I love the way your writing is so..descriptive and touching..lost for words…

  25. It draws me in, as if the desire she wants is something very confusing for me but I want to know what she wants, and yet I want it. It’s wonderful.

  26. Reblogged this on foundlosthope and commented:

  27. catkin709

    isn’t a novel?

  28. Desire becomes her. I’m off to read the rest!

  29. beautiful. loved every word!

  30. Fantastic. I love your writing style.

  31. Reblogged this on StraightTalk and commented:
    the hierarchy of desire

  32. bleedingbutterflies

    Reblogged this on bleedingbutterflies.

  33. Awesome!!! Consider yourself followed…

  34. What a wonderful treat to read while I take a break at work. I felt like I was there in the restaurant. I really wanted to punch that guy in the face.

  35. Reblogged this on Humble-Berry Pie and commented:
    I like this service industry inspired writing 🙂

  36. The Rogue

    So beautifully written! I am so jealous of your abilities to write with such talents! So descriptive and amazing!

  37. So beautiful, delicate writing!

  38. I nominated you for the Leibster Award 🙂 have fun!!

  39. Excellent! Descriptive writing and subject material that’s not on-the-surface. I enjoyed this post.

  40. Amazing! I’m so excited I discovered your blog.

  41. Wicked! Well done. Thanks.

  42. Phew! Locked me in, took me for a ride and then hit me over the head with images and configurations I most certainly did not expect! What an impactful ending! Loved it.

  43. Beautiful play of words.

  44. This stabbed my gut with the rather suddenness of how aptly this describes my life.

  45. meritjones

    Reblogged this on meritjones and commented:

  46. muragemagenda

    Reblogged this on FreelancersOasis and commented:
    This one is great!

  47. I saw this in Ginosko and loved it. Thanks.

  48. Reblogged this on youramari and commented:
    the systematic flow of words mostly at the end reminding us that words are artpieces

  49. fantastic. your stories kept me awake till 2 a.m. and have gone to another friend. till now I have read five and my favourite is this one!

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