An elegant restaurant, a special date…and it all goes downhill after meeting the chef. A tale of aversions. My current story bite.
This week I’m re-reading a book I first discovered almost 40 years ago: The Outermost House, by Henry Beston. He spent a full year on a Cape Cod beach over 90 years ago.
What I’m Writing This Week
Another story bite I’d like to share with you. Thanks for reading.
After six months of waiting for the right moment, Raymond Martin had finally asked Rose Malloy from the marketing department out on a date. She said yes. He made reservations at the posh Owl Tree restaurant, offering fine dining and live music.
Raymond and Rose stood at the hosting station at Owl Tree as a maitre’d in a one-size-too-small black suit confirmed their reservation while simultaneously giving them the elevator glance to determine if they were worthy of eating there. He found them worthy. Barely, by the pinched smile on his face. He led them to a booth near the kitchen. Raymond was about to object to the kitchen proximity when Rose said she loved the plush seating.
Their table featured tented white napkins and a flickering tea light. A server took drink orders immediately, then brought a tiny tray of even tinier rolls and butter.
“This is delightful, Raymond.” Rose smiled, glancing around at the dimly lit dining room. Crystal chandeliers graced the large room. At the far side of the room a jazz trio played quietly over the hushed conversations of the patrons.
Raymond lit up. “I’m so happy you like it. I’ve never been here before. It’s actually a bit elegant for my tastes.”
Oh god, did he just say that?
“You seem pretty elegant to me,” Rose said, as she sipped her white wine.
Raymond felt his face redden. He hoped she couldn’t see it in the dark.
The server returned to their table. Rose chose a seafood pasta. “Does the accompanying salad use only organic greens?” she asked the server.
“Only the best, miss.”
Raymond said, “I’ll try the oven-braised chicken meatballs.”
Halfway through the meal, the chef, resplendent in white jacket and toque, approached their table.
“I am Maurice, the chef here at the Owl Tree. I hope you are pleased with your meal?”
Raymond waited a second for Rose to reply. She did not. He said, “The chicken meatballs are cooked perfectly. Very tasty. Thank you.”
“And you, madame?” The chef looked to Rose.
Rose was staring wide-eyed at a stain on the chef’s sleeve, something a deep red and quite obvious.
The chef followed her gaze. “Ah, forgive me. I splashed sauce on myself. It is quite impossible to remain spotless in a busy kitchen.”
He promptly rolled up the offending sleeve, then the other. Rose stared wide-eyed at the chef’s two arms, covered in tattoos, black ink from his wrists to above his elbows.
Rose looked away. She covered her mouth with her napkin. She was trying not to wretch. The chef glared at Rose. He stepped back, turned and hurried off to the kitchen. The server dashed over.
“Is everything all right, miss?”
Raymond attempted to hand his napkin to Rose. She brushed his hand away.
In a weak voice she said, “I can’t stand tattoos. They disgust me. I can’t eat any more. Raymond, take me home.”
She rose, grabbed her purse, and headed for the door.
The maitre’d now approached. “Are you all right, sir?”
“Apparently not,” Raymond said to no one in particular. “A couple of tattoos just ruined my dream date.”
The server said, “May I box up your meals?”
“Yes, please,” Raymond said.
He gave his credit card to the server and looked for Rose. She was sitting in the lobby.
“Are you okay?” he asked.
“No, I am not okay. I hate tattoos. I find it disgusting that someone would be covered in ink and cook for the public.” She was still holding the napkin to her face.
“I have to get out of here,” she said.
“Okay. I’m waiting to get my credit card back…and the takeout containers.”
“Takeout? Seriously? Do you want me to throw up in the car?”
Raymond sighed. “I paid a lot for this food. I’m taking it home.”
Rose stared at him. She reached for her phone. “I’ll call Uber.”
He nodded. Sat down next to her. Why do I do this to myself?