Fabulous! I exclaimed as Walter our young, lanky waiter cleared the dishes. Weve dined here for so many years, my dinner guest reflected. Sometimes I think our family alone put the owners son through dental school.
Any room for dessert? Walter inquired, looking directly at my guest. Pietro created a wonderful tiramisu.
So be it, I asserted, lets finish the night in style. Walter departed smiling but seemingly anxious. Our regular waiter for the past three months, Walters attentiveness and uncanny skill of matching the meal to the customer made him a favorite among patrons. My goodness, I pronounced, responding to the obviously larger portion of tiramisu served to my guest. Well take the check when you have a chance, I directed.
The tiramisu was indeed delicious but I had really wanted to get back to my apartment to catch the end of the playoff game. I channeled my frustration to Walter. Hes a little off tonight. I dont think hes actually made eye contact with me, I observed.
Probably has his mind on other things, my guest laughed.
Tonight, the other thing seems to be you, I said curtly.
My guest commented, I really appreciate our time together. Its been a tough year but Im managing. I just wish we could see each other more often other than just meeting for dinner.
Walter returned and directed the check to my guest. Ill take this when youre ready, he said motioning my guest toward the check with a subtle head nod as he departed from the table.
Okay, this is getting awkward, I said, now considerably annoyed. My guest studied the check then slowly slid it across the table. Did he make a mistake? I wondered aloud, I wouldnt be surprised.
What I saw however was totally unexpected. Neatly printed at the bottom was a brief note. “You are the most beautiful woman Ive ever seen. Youd be happier with me than your boyfriend.” It was signed Walter.
Startled and embarrassed, I looked into the empty dessert plate. Im sorry, I get so busy.
Anticipating a quick departure after a lovely meal, the evening had unexpectedly deteriorated into a perplexing emotional flux. All at once I felt the impact of Walters message rushing in. I had missed her loneliness. I was drifting and becoming self-absorbed. In just three short months, Walter keenly assessed the situation and took a chance. I waved Walter back to the table.
Ill treat tonight. Thanks for the great service and most of all for your thoughtfulness. My mother and I will be back next week.
Stunned but reassured from our smiles, Walter offered with shaky confidence, thanks, I mean, yes, same table next week.