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Musing: Dinner Date Disaster
Since last Tuesday was Valentine’s evening, my Ever Patient Partner-In-Life and I had reservations for dinner at a nice restaurant.
While we were waiting to be escorted to our table, the entry door opened and a man burst into the lobby, looking somewhat frantic. He wore slacks and collared shirt, a classic straight-from-the-office uniform. The woman, bedecked in more formal evening attire, appeared amused.
He breathlessly approached the host stand, bouncing with nervous energy. “Excuse me. I know it’s Valentine’s, but do you have a table for two available?”
“Do you have reservations, sir?”
He glanced over his shoulder at his dinner date. Her look answered the question before the words were out of his mouth. “No, I’m afraid not.”
Behind the maître d’, a packed restaurant was being served by a hustling wait staff, testament to the news he delivered. “I’m sorry, sir, but we are fully booked for the evening. I can put you on a waitlist in case something opens, but I’m afraid that list is rather long.”
The man looked at his partner, back toward the restaurant, and finally toward a doorway leading off the lobby into a packed bar humming with conversation. “Do you need reservations to sit in the bar?”
“No, sir, if you can find seats, you are welcome to eat there, but it is first-come, first-served.”
He walked over to the portal, but the hope on his face faded as he confirmed that every chair was occupied. An overflow crowd stood shoulder-to-shoulder with drinks in their hands.
His wife—or girlfriend, dinner date, whatever—stood behind him with her arms crossed. Her eyes followed him, but they didn’t show anger. Rather, she had that bemused look that said, “I love this man, but he can be such a dolt sometimes.”
In case you’re wondering, I’m positive that was what her look said. I’m quite familiar with it. I’ve been the recipient more times than I can remember.
So, I had great empathy for the poor man. My imagination conjured the scene at their house less than an hour earlier.
Earl waltzed into the house through the garage and dropped his briefcase on the chair by the door. Loosening his tie, he called, “Honey, I’m home.”
Entering the kitchen, he was surprised to discover the lights out and no food on the stove. Panic hit. Was it his night to cook? He could never keep track.
“Back in the bedroom, dear.”
He pulled up short when he came through the doorway. Wearing a long, black dress, Wanda stood in front of the mirror adjusting her earrings. Earl asked, “Are you just now getting home from work?”
She rolled her eyes. “Does this dress look like something I would wear at the office?”
At a loss for what to say, Earl resorted to a survival instinct ingrained in every male of the species—When all else fails, resort to compliments. “It looks great.”
“Why, thank you. You never told me which restaurant we were going to, so I had to guess what to wear.” She turned to look at him. “You didn’t forget to make Valentine’s reservations, did you?”
“Valentine’s? Reservations?” Earl swallowed hard. “No, of course not. I’ve got just the perfect place.”
As we were being led to our table for a delicious dinner and a bottle of wine—reservations made by EPPIL, I should clarify—poor Earl was standing at the entrance looking at the crowded restaurant across the street. People waited on the sidewalk out front. “Let’s try that place, dear.”
Wanda looked as filled with doubt as I felt, but she gamely followed him. Somehow, I expected Earl’s ultimate destination that night wasn’t going to end well.
“Here you go, dear. A meal fit for a queen. Let me unwrap your burger and put some ketchup on those fries.”
P.S.—Yes, it’s the return of Earl and Wanda. The last time we visited with them was the world’s most complicated setup for the worst possible punchline in Just Deserts.
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