We’d gone out to dinner. Alone. Together I mean. What I mean is we went together but sans the remaining brood. So, we spent time actually looking at the menu and wondering aloud where the past decade had flown by. It was the occasion of our tenth wedding anniversary. With the latest addition to the nest, our dinner conversations at restaurants resemble rhinos hobnobbing with flying monkeys. Some heavy lifting; snorts and sighs evenly distributed and atleast one flying object caught deftly by the super bowler of the Roadside Cricket League of Chennai followed by a heavy tip.
Consequently, the dinner alone felt like a movie in slow motion. There we were sitting with both buttocks firmly on chairs. I mean this quite seriously, but it has been months since I sat firmly at a restaurant chair. The waiter came in and handed us a bowl of bread and we started nibbling. Pretty soon, we had chatted our way through almost the whole bowl.
The waiter came on again, adjusted his bulging tummy and performed the daily specials with ado. He let the chicken roll on his tongue and he caught the slippery oysters and bathed them in tomato sauce. But of course, we being vegetarians, we enjoyed the performance and then told the old blighter that while we admire his recitation, what we want is the baked oyster creole de-lol sans the oyster.
I could feel him frost inside. I mean maitre d’s don’t spend their afternoons rehearsing the virtues of the creme boulignon de salmon and the oyster creme de la creme or whatever it was to be patted on their backs for learning the tough menu.
“Is cheese alright?” asked he, in a Frosty-the-snowman-ish voice.
“Yes” said the husband
“No” said the wife.
Did I mention it was our tenth anniversary dinner?
We do not spar in front of menu reciting waiters and we rounded on each other the moment his back was turned. “Why the cheese?” “Why not the cheese?”
“Poor fellow – did you hear his spirited recitation of the specials? The least we can do is say yes to the cheese!” says the man of my heart. The logic frazzled me and ate the last piece of bread in the bowl, which the fat waiter caught me doing. I could feel him thinking – They sure don’t look it, but do they eat a lot?
A soup went in just as glibly and going by the size of the soup bowl applied some old fashioned extrapolation and ordered exciting items from the menus harping on the theme of the evening viz. flora is fine, but fauna is not.
The entrees made their dramatic entrance – cheese was grated on one and not on the other, and we tucked in. By around the third morsel, we realised that we may have ordered way more than necessary for a dinner for two. The soup was the googly. We decided to box the husband’s entree (it being a more boxable kind of dish – mine being the squishy, mushy gravy filled kind of dish and ate off my dish.)
I have had the opportunity to remark on this tendency of people coming at you when the mouth is full before and I will say it again. Why this thumper of a waiter had to wait till we both had our mouths brimming I don’t know, but he did. Then he comes by and asks if everything is okay. Table manners demand that we finish our morsel, but to keep the already specials-deprived waiter waiting for an answer seems cruel. So, you take your napkin and nod vigorously (which in different countries mean different things) and smile and hope that the smile will signal the benevolence and then realise you have been smiling into your napkin. You then swallow a hot lot and eyes watering tell him everything is just perfect thank you. He looks at the dish in front of me – almost half gone, and the husband’s nibbled at. The glance was merely perfunctory I assure you, but it was there nevertheless.
I don’t mean to boast, but give us a task like this and we rock. We had polished off the dish in front of me beautifully. Not a scrap left. The waiter arrived again and we asked him for a to-go box for the other dish. “Sure Madam” he said and came along with the box.
I have a confession to make: Achilles may have had a heel to trip him up. I have Tiramusu. Offer me that and you have a benevolent, mellow cat. The Tiramusu came and the husband being the chivalrous what-not asks the waiter to put it front of me.
I wonder whether you notice a trend here – place everything in front of me, while he contributes equally to stuffing in the load. The proper waiter now really can’t help wondering “How on earth? I mean! How does she eat so much?” As per usual we lick the Tiramusu clean and the waiter arrives. But now, I feel guilty.
On our way out, I ask him how many calories the Tiramusu was. He says :”720 Madam. Is that okay?”
“Fine! Just fine!” I assure him. I can feel the unasked question again and say, “Since we both ate it. So, I mean the whole dinner…” The husband tugs me away…”Why are you explaining to him?” I grin sheepishly and wave him good night.
I don’t mind eating like a glutton err…gourmand, but I don’t want random waiter guy judging me for it. He waves back and looks forlorn at his own bulging tummy.
We decided to walk a couple of miles before turning in. And that is the story of our dinner alone. Glad to have it off my chest.
PS: The waiter was a jolly old soul who reminded me of Old King Cole