In every town, is every “it” restaurant you go to for a romantic evening. That “it” restaurant in Albuquerque, is my place of employment. These special evenings out are the ones that you make a reservation for (because tonight is special), doll yourself up, and meet a very special person to share “an event” together. These “events” are an immense array in genre; from big power meetings at lunch, to celebrations of graduation, reuniting, first dates and most of all: engagements. If there is any restaurant in Albuquerque that you propose at, it’s my work.
There’s always a certain buzz in the air when the staff is notified (pre-shift) of an engagement happen that evening. Everyone rushes the computer to examine the reservation marked, “special” for the details. Most importantly what time the soon-to-be betrothed will arrive. On this special occasion, I was privy to meet the groom-to-be, a few days prior to the “big night.” He requested that I wait on them and gave me special notes about how to present the ring in the dessert.
It was to be delicately, yet strategically placed 2/3 ways up from the tip of the chocolate torte, her favorite dessert. At the crosshairs of these precise coordinates would display the geological life-promise set in 18k white gold. They would be arriving promptly at 7:30p.m. and sit at table 32.
Table 32 is the “it” table. It’s an intimate two-person table alongside the windows bejeweled with tea lights within every 5×5 inch square window frame. Of the four rows of tables delineating across the dining room, this table falls in the 30s, the third furthest row from the hostess stand. Not quite in the corner, but not quite in the dining room. In relation to the other tables it says, “hidden, but with an audience.”
The “big day” was upon us, and the “big night” was approaching. The buzz was in he air and our boss had just walked through the front door. I was polishing my station, preparing for the evenings fortunes and hurried over to tell him about the news. More than anything, I wanted to make sure that he understood that this table is reserved. One would think that the owner of a restaurant, would be the one most in-tune and up-to-date with what is going on within. In this case, not so much. I by no means denounce my boss’ talent in creating and sustaining the restaurant- but if it weren’t for a solid and ridiculously loyal staff, he’d be fucked.
Service began and my boss (miraculously) had listened to me. It was nearing 7:25p.m. and he hadn’t so much as gone near the table. On the contrary, he would explain to people who hadn’t even inquired, why they couldn’t sit at this table. As it was nearing time for our lovebirds to arrive, I made my way up to the hostess stand. I recognized the car of the groom-to-be at the stoplight across the street from the restaurant waiting for it to turn green. It was go-time.
On this particular night, cats and dogs couldn’t describe what was falling out of the night sky. What prompted Noah’s deluge must have looked similar. As the light turned green, and the car turned the corner, I watched chivalry at it’s finest. The groom-to-be dropped his damsel at the front door of the restaurant, just a step away from the protective awnings. As she daintily tip toed into the restaurant avoiding puddles, I welcomed her to the night she would never forget.
The phone happened to ring as I greeted her, and employees are hanged publicly if one does not answer the phone within three rings. I instinctively ansewered the phone and got a reservation request. I proceeded to take the call as I saw the groom-to-be rush to the bathroom soaking wet, to go put himself back together. I thought I’d give him a minute and stall.
A few minutes passed and I was officially taking the longest reservation ever. Groomy hadn’t exited the bathroom and our bride-to-be was growing more and more eager.
“Would you like me to just make my way to the table?” she whispered to me while giving me the reservation name.
For a moment I thought, “Perfect! She’ll think I sent her to ‘just some table’ .” I covered the receiver and whispered directions to the table. She was making her way over when the unthinkable happened.
My boss beelines from across the restaurant like some whirling ADHD-powered tornado in a frantic mess and blurts out, “No! Miss, I’m sorry. This table is reserved.” And before I could intervene- it was too late.
“You see,” my boss proceeded to explain, “this table is reserved for a gentleman proposing to his girlfriend tonight. He came in a few days ago to pick out this very one,” he points as he taps the table.
I thought I would die.
But then I saw her face that proceeded to turn white with how nervous she became as her proposer came around the corner. She quickly excused herself to the ladies’ room while my boss stood there and for once, was speechless.
I walked up to the scene of the crime because I just had to hear how my boss was going to explain this one. He stammered out the story while looking for an emergency exit route out of this painfully awkward situation. He saw a busser clearing a table and ran to “their rescue.” Groom-to-be slumped into his seat as he felt for the engagement ring box in his pocket. Devastation couldn’t begin to describe the look on this poor bastard’s face.
I walked over offering the only remedy I could think of and asked, “Can I get you a drink? On the house.”