Sunday, February 21, 2021
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The Villages

America’s Funniest Waitress makes debut as weekly columnist

Lisa DeMarco

Hi everybody! My name is Lisa D, and I am a server/mom from Lady Lake.  Around The Villages, I am known as “America’s Funniest Waitress.”

At Billy’s Cafe, I am also known for being a “TALK-A-HOLIC” and the skinniest “300lb” woman you will ever meet. I am a happily married, mother of two beautiful daughters, and I am a grandma to my full-time, 5-year old grandson. I have lived in Florida for nearly 30-years, but I am a native Jersey girl. A true fair-weathered Yankee, I am proud to call the Sunshine State my home.

Transplanted in 1989, I attended the University of Central Florida, where I earned a degree in Print Journalism. Prior to moving down, I received an Associates Degree from Morris County College in New Jersey, after my father persuaded me to stay local before moving away from home. This way, according to him, I would be better prepared to leave the nest. If I agreed, he promised to pay my way: tuition, room and board, car insurance, health insurance, monthly checks if I needed money. Whatever I wanted, as long as I went local first. I agreed, but I informed him that when I did graduate – in two years – I was moving to California. He agreed, but again reminded me – only after I completed my county requirements. Which I did, exactly two years later, while working full-time, early morning shifts at a nearby diner. 

So, how did I end up at the University of Central Florida? Well, after all my hard work, my father decided to pull the plug and reneged on his promise. He told me now if I wanted his finances I had to go to a school east of the Mississippi. Why? Because he had two years to think about my mother constantly asking him to take her to visit, and the thought of driving from New Jersey to California a few times a year was a little too much for him to fathom. “Anywhere east of the Mississippi!” he insisted.

So, where does a Jersey girl go when she wants to be in the sunshine year round but can’t afford to pay her own way on the west coast? A southeastern university, of course. And what southeastern state best suits a “true Jersey J.A.P?” Florida. Preferably beachside. Sure, I admit I was a bit spoiled, but not STUPID. Or so I thought. Well, maybe a little. It turns out when I applied to the University of Central Florida I was expecting to attend the Daytona Beach campus, just a few miles from the surf. I was under that misconception basically until Administrations explained to me that my course studies were only offered at their Orlando Main campus, and I was registered to begin classes THERE in the fall. Devastated by my crappy luck, I decided that Orlando would have to do. So daddy rented me a U-Haul, and I packed up everything I owned, including my two older sisters, and I moved out on my own!

After graduating UCF, oddly enough, I continued to work as a server. Just like I had been doing since I was 13 years old. Over the years, I had waitressed, bartended, cocktailed, even done some seasonal catering, while going to school, but now that my schooling (to me at least for the moment) was over, I preferred a hospitality job over searching for the perfect “writing” career, if for nothing else than the steady cash I had grown accustomed to. Sure, it drove my father nuts to know that I was still working as a server. “What a waste of my tuition money,” he would repeat every chance he got.  

“How dare I not have a REAL job, or at least be looking for one.”

“What daddy,” I’d say. “Should I actually find a job in my field? According to my sisters (who happen to be 5 and 7-years older than me, who both attended but didn’t finish away-from-home universities) that is not a requirement?”

“Would you prefer I move home?” I’d ask, and he would quickly drop it for the moment.

I always knew I’d be some type of writer. Despite what my father thought. I’d been writing since I could spell. Writing was my thing. An extension of myself. To me, it’s just another form of talking. A way to release all my thoughts without burdening another soul from having to hear them. That is unless of course they request to sit in my section or read one of my gajillion short stories, poems, articles, books, etc. etc.

OK, so next came marriage. Another bittersweet moment for my dear sweet dad. A few months after graduation, I met my future husband, after my boss hired him to be the new bartender where I worked. Yes, I managed to meet my “Prince Charming,” a “Yankee” from Pittsburgh right here in Apopka, Florida. Nothing like moving a thousand miles away from home to meet a guy that used to live 2 hours away from you?!

He and I quickly became friendly, mainly because we had a lot of mutual friends, co-workers and customers. We had actually been in the same places at the same time many times. We just hadn’t met yet. But again, I wasn’t looking for romance. I had just graduated college, and my sisters and I planned on enjoying life for a while, before daddy finally cut us all off. 

My “Big Ragu” was hired at the pizzeria in the beginning of March and by the 4th of July he was putting a heart-shaped diamond on my left ring finger. Crazy right?! He proposed in EPCOT Center, in the middle of the Japanese Pavilion, with dozens of strangers staring at me, while marching bands played and fireworks filled the sky! Even the Maitre d’ came over to wish us blessings, before I could even say yes!  Not to mention, my man is a handsome little devil, and when he pulled that little blue box out of the camera case I had been carrying around all day at the park, how could a girl say no? 

And so it was. My father had finally managed to get one of his daughters married off, as he put it. I can still hear him in the background on the phone that day say to my mother, “One down. Two to go. Does he have any brothers?”

That day I started my new journey in life, and new journals began to pile high.

Now, thanks to all my kind and faithful followers around Lake County that I have managed to collect over the past 20-plus years, I can finally share all my fruity, spicy, tasteless tales that have occupied my thoughts, my notebooks and my computer files for way too long! 

Plus, I can truly prove to my father in Heaven that all his tuition money was not wasted, and I can write more than just GUEST CHECKS! 

Visit me Hump Days here! Laugh on! Peace out!

Lisa DeMarco is a waitress at Billy’s Cafe. She is joining as a columnist.

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