Husband was pointing out some of the favorite spots he and Wife like to spontaneously visit. We didn’t enter any of the establishments, merely walked by them and listened while Husband told us what fabulous thing was inside.
Finally he stepped into a doorway and announced what we’d spent that last three or four hours waiting to hear, “Ahhh…here we are.”
It didn’t look like a restaurant at all from the outside. There was a guard at the door, a hefty individual, that I was sure would not let us in. Two of us were tired and cranky, and none of us were dressed very well.
Reluctantly, the large dude held the door for us. We ambled down a rather long corridor before we reached the hostess. I could see her try to hide her disappointment in us, but the questioning eyebrow could not help itself. She, like me, wondered why we had been allowed inside.
As we were shown to our table, I saw that everyone seated was in high-class business suits. The chatter in this very full dining facility was kept to a respectful minimum. There was faint music in the background’s background.
My sneakers, jeans and I did not belong here.
I hadn’t paid attention to the details before so I stole a glance around at my companions. Buddy with his khaki shorts that hosted numerous pockets and a less than crisp shirt. Husband with his work coveralls that were still greasy from his last mechanical function. Wife with her stained t-shirt sporting a remnant of her last meal. She and I both needed to comb our hair.
It was the kind of place where one must hold one’s pinky out whenever one sips from a too-small cup that has a very dainty loop on its side that must be properly pinched between thumb and forefinger.
We were so far removed from “..not a Burger King or McDonald’s…” that we might as well have been on another planet.
As we approached the table, two waiters with practiced blank faces appeared out of nowhere to guide expensive and well-polished chairs under Wife and me. Before I had a chance to quietly berate Husband for this embarrassment, a waitress arrived with menus. I put my tongue in check, not wanting to do this in front of the wait staff. Besides, it was so eerily quiet in the place, even though it was crowded with well-to-do people, that all I would’ve been able to muster was a whisper anyway. Husband deserved so very much more.
I opened the menu. I was thinking that maybe my twenty would get me a small house salad with a glass of water and I wouldn’t have to beg off completely. What I wanted to do was leave – immediately. I couldn’t. My only options were to stay seated or stand outside on the sidewalk and await their departure. I stayed seated.
I mentally scrolled down past the sixty-dollar entrees and thirty-dollar side dishes to the salad options. Turns out my twenty would barely get me the glass of water.
Unless I wanted a lemon.
I began to frantically search the menu for something, anything, that I could order with some dignity. There was nothing. I took a deep breath, hid my face with the menu, and leaned over to Buddy. His ear met me half-way.
“When we left the hotel, I put a twenty in my pocket. It’s all I have on me.”
We both rose back upright and continued gracefully looking at our menus. Meanwhile, Husband and Wife were planning out all the things they were going to order. I grew tired trying to calculate what that expense would be.
I sensed Buddy starting to lean in my direction. My ear met him half way.
So there we sat, forty dollars between us, in a place where to even share one entrée we were falling miserably short. I had no idea what to do. Fess up? Walk out and wait? Order nothing and pout? I had no clue. How should one behave in such an extraordinary circumstance, one in which not many like me might ever find themselves?
Finally, Buddy spoke up, giving me hope that I would not have to act after all. Maybe he knew just what to do in this situation as he had in so many others.
He had to get Husband’s attention from the menu in which he was highly engrossed, and about which he was incredibly excited.
“Um…Kat and I don’t know how to tell you this, and we appreciate that you brought us to such a nice place and all…”
Buddy was always very diplomatic.
“…but we just can’t pay for this.”