The Big Event
Margaret and Emery Lang sat quietly across from one another. The classical music was overpowered by the buzz of chatter in the restaurant. Emery had made the reservation weeks ago and still had to slip the maitre d’ a twenty to ensure the same window seat they had had every anniversary. Back on their 25th it had only cost him a finski. Times had changed.
The dessert dishes lay on the table. The chocolate mousse was all but licked from his glass bowl and the filling from her untouched raspberry pie had bled into the melted ice cream.
Margaret fingered the fine linen table cloth and was lost in her thoughts. Perhaps she could start a new sewing project? Which grandchild’s birthday was later this month? So many things to remember each day…
Emery glanced at his Rolex and wondered how long they would have to wait for the server to arrive with the bill. He wanted to hurry home to catch the ball game on the tube.
Margaret was staring at the quiet harbour when movement below the window caught her attention. A well-dressed young couple walked away from the restaurant, past the fishing boats moored along the edge of the concrete dock. The young woman turned and looked up at her window for a moment but continued on with her suitor. She rested her head on the man’s shoulder as they walked, reminding Margaret of her own honeymoon in Florida. So many sunset walks along the white sands of Pensacola Beach.
She was still visiting that far away beach when the waiter arrived with the bill. Emery slipped some cash into the black folder and immediately handed it back to the young woman. “I’ll get the car and meet you out front.”
Margaret slowly rose to her feet and the young server took her by the arm and began to lead her away from the table. Her final view of the young couple brought tears to her eyes. The pair had stopped and the woman now looked up to the man expectantly. She playfully punched him on the shoulder and held his hands.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Valerie and Dave strolled along the wharf, trying to kill time until the restaurant had an opening for them. They had arrived at the restaurant on time, yet the door geezer had told them they would have to wait about 20 minutes until a table was ready. She wanted to sit at the bar but he had put her off knowing that the drinks would cost over $10 a pop. He suggested a walk instead.
Valerie was a bit anxious because they had dated for nearly a year and Dave obviously had something big on his mind. She had spent three hours at the hair dresser because this dinner was going to be way more upscale than their usual fare at Burger King.
She sighed and entwined her arm with his as they walked together. She glanced over her shoulder at the restaurant; the sunset colours and the shimmer of the water reflected off the tinted windows. The setting would have been perfect if not for the ungodly stench of sewage emanating from the harbour.
Dave stared beyond the fishing boats, their decks laden with crab and lobster pots. Valerie had been hinting about going to a fancy restaurant for weeks and he figured this outing would finally get her off his case. The prospect of working a shit-load of overtime to pay off this venture had soured his mood. And he was going to miss the ball game on TV.
Valerie stopped suddenly and looked up at Dave with a dreamy, stunned look in her eyes. “What’s on your mind, honey?” she asked.
“Umm, nothing babe.”
“It’s really nice of you to bring me here for dinner. It was such a surprise!” Her face was aglow and she playfully punched his shoulder.
“It’s nothing. You deserve the best,” he replied as he rubbed his shoulder.
“I mean it’s not, like, my birthday or our anniversary or anything. I was wondering why you wanted to get dressed up and bring me here,” she said and clasped his hands with hers.
Dave’s mind raced and he broke out in a cold sweat. “Well, babe…you see—“
“Yes?” she nodded encouragement, her heart pounded in her chest.
He licked his lips and examined his scuffed shoes. “I was thinking…I know your dad’s strict and all, but maybe we could go away for a weekend?”
Valerie paled and her jaw dropped. “That’s it?”
“What?” Dave said, his eyes darted left and right as if expecting an attacker. Or perhaps he was seeking an escape route.
“That’s what this fancy dinner is all about?”
“Well, yeah. I guess.”
“You little shit!” Valerie’s arms flailed in an attempt to smack her boyfriend. Dave whined in protest and backed away from her attack until his heel hit the low wooden rail at the edge of the harbour. He fell backwards and dropped 6 feet into the murky water, sending solid matter floating away on concentric rings.
Valerie stomped off, leaving him bobbing in the polluted, frigid water.