It’s a busy night. The hostess is in the bathroom so I’m covering the door.
The door chimes. A man walks in.
“Four,” he says, holding up exactly four fingers. How nice.
“Do you have a reservation?” I ask politely.
“No,” he grunts, “Do I need one?”
“I’m afraid we’re full sir,” I reply, “But we’ll have something in half an hour.”
“That’s not going to work for me,” the man says.
“Sorry sir,” I reply, “That’s the best I can do.”
“That’s unfortunate for you,” the man says.
Was that a threat?
“That’s unfortunate for you,” the man repeats, spreading his hands.
My mind races. Who is this guy? Mafioso? A food critic? Is he nuts? Maybe I should seat him. Maybe he’s important and I don’t know who he is. But then experience kicks in. This guy’s probably using some bullshit verbal technique he picked up in an assertiveness training seminar. That might work on a twenty year old but not me.
“And exactly how will that be unfortunate for me?” I respond coolly.
The guy stares at me. I’ve called his bluff.
The man keeps staring at me. I feel the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. Maybe I misjudged him. Maybe he’s crazy.
The clock ticks. The man stares at me some more.
I smile back. If the ball goes up, my pepper mill’s close at hand.
The man says nothing and walks out the door.
I watch the guy walk down the street. I don’t see any friends waiting for him. They might be waiting around the corner. But I have a funny feeling this guy’s alone. There was something about that guy. Something I can’t put my finger on…….
Oh well. You’d be amazed at the weirdoes I see. On the outside they appear prosperous and put together, but the moment they walk into a restaurant all sorts of psychopathology comes flying out.
The man walks out of sight. I add his face to my own personal terrorist watch list. He might cause trouble one day.
“Anything happen?” the hostess says, returning from her bathroom break. I tell her what she missed.
“Jesus,” she says, “What a freak.”
“Honey” I reply, “Just wait until Valentine’s Day.”