The phone rings.
“The Bistro,” I answer, “How may I help you?”
“Hello, Waiter?” a familiar voice says.
“This is Rafael, the Maitre’D at Cafe Really Expensive.”
“Hey Rafael,” I reply, “How’s things?”
“I hear ya.”
“Listen,” Rafael says, “You’ve got a reservation for Wilson at seven, right?”
I look at the reservation list. “Yep, table for two. Got ‘em right here.”
“The guy’s a waiter at my place,” Rafael says. “He got married at City Hall a few hours ago.”
“Ah, love,” I chuckle.
Rafael laughs heartily. He’s been married a couple of times.
“Yeah, I want to buy them a bottle of champagne.”
I open the wine list and rattle off the choices. Rafael picks a really nice bottle.
“You want me to send the bill to Café Really Expensive?” I ask.
“That’d be great.”
“Ok, Rafael,” I say, “You’re all set.”
“My pleasure Rafael.”
I look at my watch. The bride and groom will be here in two hours. I go to the walk in and confirm we have cold bottles of Rafael’s selection. We do.
I reserve the romantic table by the window. I repolish the silverware and steam clean two champagne glasses. Satisfied the table’s set right I go back to the hostess stand and review the night’s floor plan. We’re gonna be busy.
The door chimes. A florist arrives with a box of roses.
“Someone got married today,” the deliveryman says.
I look at the card. The flowers are from the waitstaff at Café Really Expensive.
“I’ll make sure they get them,” I say.
I reach into my pocket and tip the flower guy a couple of bucks. They’re not my roses but they’re for a comrade in arms. It’s the least I can do.
“Thanks,” the deliveryman says. I go downstairs and put the flowers in the fridge. It’d suck if they wilted.
The first customers trickle in. Of course, they want to sit at the table reserved for the Just Married’s.
“Why can’t I have that table?” Yuppie Chick protests.
“It’s reserved Madam.”
“A couple that just got married.”
Blessedly, that’s all it takes to shut Yuppie Chick up.
Seven o’clock comes. The Just Married’s arrive. I seat them. The flowers are already on the table. The bride coos delightedly. She’s all smiles. The groom looks a little stupefied.
I bring over the bottle of champagne. The groom’s eyes widen when he sees the label.
“Compliments of Rafael,” I say.
“Oh wow!” the Groom says, “Bollinger Grande Année!”
“Oh Rafael didn’t have to do that,” the Bride says.
I remove the foil, unfasten the wire restraint, and gently pull out the cork with a small pop.
“Congratulations on getting married,” I say, pouring out the bubbly. “And many years of happiness and health.”
“Thank you,” Bride says, blushing slightly.
I flash her a smile, put the Bollinger on ice, and walk away. I want to give these two plenty of space. There’s no rush. It’s their first dinner as man and wife. They’ll remember it for the rest of their lives. It’s an almost sacramental moment.
But, as is often the case, the holy can never escape the profane. The Bistro fills up. Within minutes I’m running around, fetching martinis and negotiating Atkins’ requests for a roomful of demanding Yuppies. I keep a close eye on the Just Married’s. They’re my priority. Eventually the groom signals for me.
“They’re keeping you busy tonight,” he whispers sympathetically.
“Nothing I can’t handle sir,” I reply.
I tell the newlyweds the specials. They nod politely. After a few questions they place their order. No muss no fuss. I wish my other customers were as easy. It’s a crazy night. But, amidst all chaos, the newlyweds are an oasis of bliss.
The evening rush comes and then it goes. Yuppies in. Yuppies out. Soon the restaurant’s empty.
The Just Married’s are the last table. They’re sitting side by side, holding on to one another and not saying a thing. I leave them alone.
I finish my sidework, tip out the bus people, and send everybody home. I look over at the newlyweds. Not ready yet. I grab a paper and start reading. I might be here a while.
The clock ticks. An hour passes. Normally I’d be pissed. But, tonight, for some reason, I don’t mind. I read my paper.
The groom finally signals for the check. He pays and leaves a nice tip.
“Thanks for making tonight special for us,” Bride says.
“My pleasure Mrs. Wilson,” I reply.
“Good night Waiter,” Groom says.
“Good night sir,” I say. “And congratulations.”
I watch the couple walk down the street. They hail a taxi and head off towards the rest of their life.
That couple was the most important part of my day. I don’t know why. I just know.
I turn off the lights and go home.