Twice a week Mr. Escher comes into the bistro to get takeout for his wife.
Twice a week I get to hear how much he hates her.
“Are you married?” Mr. Escher asks me while paying for his order.
“No sir. I’m not.”
“Good. Never get married,” he says wearily signing the credit card slip.
A smile creeps across my face, “Why does every married guy over 40 tell me the same thing?”
“Because they know.”
“Here’s your food Mr. Escher,” I say sympathetically, “Try and have a nice evening.”
“Is everything in order?” he queries suspiciously.
If the food isn’t prepared exactly to his wife’s specifications she sends it back. To make the process less painful for all concerned we created a special button on the POS computer just for her.
“Just the way she likes it sir,” I say smiling, “A pink sauce with more cream than tomato.”
“You know why husbands die before their wives don’t you?” Escher asks heading for the door.
“Because they want to,” I reply finishing the joke.
“Right,” Escher smiles grimly.
“Good night sir.”
After five years I’ve never met Mr. Escher’s wife. Like Niles Crane’s unseen Maris on “Frasier” – she remains a mysterious malevolent harridan.
I watch Mr. Escher walk down the street. Poor bastard.
He’s not getting any tonight.
A short while later I’m getting the order from a four top of middle aged yuppies. They’re transfixed at the sight of a fifty year old man making out with a much younger blonde a few tables over.
‘He’s old enough to be her father,” one of the matrons exclaims.
“Disgusting. Why can’t he find someone his own age?” her companion huffs.
I can’t help but notice the husbands are smiling.
“Goddamn Viagra,” the matron whines, “Makes old goats think they’re 25.”
“Why don’t they make a Viagra for women?” the other wife laments.
Staring at the canoodling couple her husband sighs, “They’ve already made something for you girls.”
“Oh yeah, what’s it called?” his wife shoots back.
I stifle a laugh.
“You think that’s funny don’t you Robert?” his wife hisses.
The husband stares at his spouse with a look born from years of accommodation.
“Yes I do.”
His wife stares at him sullenly. I wonder if I’m ever going to get the order.
After a long pause she smiles wanly saying,
“We’ll see about that Robert.”
Robert shifts uncomfortably in his chair.
Poor bastard I think to myself.
He’s not getting any tonight either.