Originally published in the newspaper, Hill Rag, October 2008.

I’d seen them on the playground before, trawling for unhappy babysitters in hopes of luring them away from their current employers; Moms on the Make.  I had always told myself that, if The Boy’s sitter ever left us, I would never become one of those circling maternal sharks.

My proclamation was tested right around The Boy’s half-birthday, when our sitter informed me she was moving to Rehoboth.  I contemplated picking up stakes and following her.  The Husband said, no.

While I managed to steer clear of the branded herd of nannies in the Marion Park playground paddock, I found myself cruising the Hill for single women with their days free, like some sort of salivating letch.  If I happened upon a specimen of this rare breed, and she returned my desperate smile or shot The Boy a flirty wave, my invasive interrogation would begin:

“I see you’re good with dogs.  How do you feel about kids?”

“Are you often at the park alone on weekdays, say, from ten to four?  What if I told you that you could get paid to do that?”

“Just out of prison, you say?  Tell your parole officer to call me.”

After receiving a serious talking-to from The Husband, I backed off.  But, of course, my busy mama-brain continued to work on the case.  Then, one fine evening in March, The Husband, The Boy and I schlepped up to our favorite restaurant on Pennsylvania Avenue and were pleased when our favorite waitress (who we liked to call, “Our Waitress”) appeared at our table, all smiles and loveliness.

As a family we had a definitive crush on Our Waitress; she managed to flirt with each of us in a personal manner without disenfranchising anyone or demonstrating any kind of favoritism.  We asked her for an update on the activities of her life and she informed us she was planning on returning to school in the fall and was saving every penny she could.

We were halfway home from the restaurant when it occurred to me: “What about Our Waitress?” I asked my husband.  It was as if I had suggested we leave The Boy on the Metro all day in his car seat, or drop him off at Dog-Ma with The Hound.  “You can’t do that,” he sputtered, “You can’t just ask someone to watch The Boy out of the blue.”

“Why not?” I wanted to know.  At worst, she’s flattered that I’d leave The Boy with her, but turns me down.  At best, she’s flattered and says, “Yes!”  And then, The Boy has a sitter until September.

I decided we must have her.

When I arrived at her place of work, she wasn’t there, but her boyfriend (also a server there) was at the bar.  I sidled over and slipped him my digits.  “The Husband and I have a proposition for Our Waitress.  Tell her to give me a call,” I whispered.

It wasn’t until I arrived home that I realized I probably should’ve specified that it was a business proposition and not a sad married couple’s attempt to spice up their post-baby life with a little hot three-way action.

Despite my enigmatic approach, he passed on the number.  And thank god he did because she said, “Yes!”

Our childcare affair was a heavenly six months.  It was light, lovely and low-maintenance.  She showed up on time, always arrived in a lovely mood and adored her time with The Boy.   It was an affair to remember.

So, here we are in September.  The Boy has started daycare and Our Waitress has gone back to school.  I miss her.  Our Waitress was my link to the outside world of DC hipness, she supplied me with gossip, shared the occasional secret cigarette with me during naptime and after a craptstic day, when The Boy was in bed and The Husband had relocated to Sports Center, I’d pop into the restaurant for a chat and a glass of wine to clear my jumbled head before the start of another unpredictable day.

For The Boy, it was an exciting tryst.  There will be other magical women in his life.  But for me, I think it was love.  Okay, maybe not love, but the roots of a genuine friendship.

Our Waitress and I have a coffee date later this week.  It’ll be our first rendezvous without a money exchange or a diaper change.  No matter where our relationship goes from here, I’ll always remember her as the best take-out I ever ordered.

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