Special occasions, notably anniversaries, tend to bring a celebrating couple out of their usual routines and in to our restaurant for a lavish evening. Our reservation system allows note tabs for each individual reservation. These notes give the hostess a heads-up as to whether it is a birthday, wedding anniversary or other special occasion in order for the waiter to be able to congratulate and accommodate accordingly.
It was an ordinary Wednesday afternoon and I walked in at 3:30 p.m. to relieve the day bartender. After getting the bar set up, I walked up to the front to scope the reservations before preparing my restaurant side-work. As I opened up the reservation sheet for the evening, I noticed the hostess pick up a wine list and prop it open on a table in my section. In the restaurant, this is a sign that a table has been requested. I looked over to find that she had set it on table 74, then looked at the reservations to find that a table of three had requested it for an anniversary.
Thinking to myself, “that’s strange…why would they have a third wheel?” I walked over to the table, removed a setting and polished it up for the three people celebrating an anniversary.
At about 7:00p.m., my anniversary table was greeted at the front door and escorted over to table 74. I walked over to the table with a water pitcher to find a husband and wife with their son. It all made sense now, they just didn’t find a babysitter! Right? I began to fill the water glasses as I greeted them.
“Good evening everyone, may I offer you some water?”
They all nodded as they settled in to their table. The husband and wife amorous gazed at each other, and then at their son, and before I could congratulate them, they beat me to it.
“I don’t know if you’re hostess told you, but it’s an anniversary,” announced the wife.
“You beat me to it,” I smiled, “Congratulations. How many years have you been married?” I asked.
“Oh, this isn’t our wedding anniversary,” said husband.
“Oh. Is it a birthday?” I asked as the word anniversaire in French is for both birthdays and any anniversary.
“Nope,” giggled the wife.
“Well, congratulations on-”
“-eight years,” said the husband, cutting me off.
“Eight years, yes.” I replied.
Terribly confused, I gathered their appetizer order and walked over to the computer to put in their order. I flagged the hostess down who quickly tip-toed over.
“So table 74 is a-”
“-an anniversary, I know. Eight years. They didn’t say what kind of anniversary it was, did they?” I asked.
“Wedding?” said the hostess.
“No, it’s not a wedding anniversary or a birthday. Oh well.”
I walked back over to my anniversary table, where the husband and wife were gazing into each other’s eyes as their son was happily playing a video game. Hesitant to disrupt this family moment, I asked if they were ready to order entrees.
“I had a question,” began the wife, “when we were here eight years ago you had a pasta dish.”
Thinking I had solved the mystery anniversary, I disguised my victorious voice as cooing, “Aww [inner,’AHA!’], was your first date here eight years ago?”
“Nope!” chirped the husband.
“Well, the pasta dish that we currently have is a ravioli dish. Would you like that?” I asked.
“That sounds lovely,” said that wife as she smiled at her son, then at her husband and then at me as I took her menu.
Taking the husband’s and son’s orders, which followed suit of the ravioli order, I walked up to the line to pick-up their appetizers. Walking back to their table, husband and wife were mid Eskimo kiss when as I set the appetizers down. I was about to announce which sauces came with each appetizer when the husband interjected.
“Oh we know, we had these last time we were here…” and as he trailed off gazing at his wife, I couldn’t help but to confirm what had been already said.
“Wow, we haven’t changed these sauces in eight years?”
Hoping for a response, or at least a clue as to what happened eight years ago- I got a giggle, a smile and a sigh as an amorous gaze was exchanged between husband and wife; son still quiet and content with his video game.
My mind began to race for anniversaries that are celebrated in such an amorous way:
First date? Confirmed no.
Birthday? Shot down.
Engagement! Of course!
Gleaming with self-contentment, I skipped over to the computer and placed their order and then pranced over to the hostess to tell her that I had cracked the case.
“I figured it out. I know what kind of anniversary it is,” I giggled. Good God, I was beginning to sound like them.
“Oh yeah? Well then, what did they say?” inquired the hostess.
“I haven’t gotten a confirmation yet, but think about it; it’s not a wedding or birthday, or a first date so…”
“So it has to be when he proposed! The anniversary of their engagement! Just watch, I’ll get it out of them.”
With an extra skip in my step, I walked up to the table to confirm that I had cracked the case. Still looking the same, only now a bit more tipsy, husband and wife now just smiling ear to ear whilst gazing at their son, still avidly playing his video game. I leaned in to clear the appetizer course and probed for the confirmation to my theory.
“Was he playing his video games eight years ago?” I asked.
They burst into laughter and as it calmed into a giggle, the wife took a sip of her wine, then replied, “Oh how silly, he wasn’t here eight years ago, we weren’t even married yet!”
Brimming with delight as I was nearing closure to the open case entitled, “Eight Years Ago” I smiled as I reached to clear another plate.
“Is it because he had just proposed, here, eight years ago?” I questioned, trying to keep composure as my eyebrows raised awaiting the (what I was sure to be) end of all my questioning.
“Nope!” chirped the husband, again.
GOD DAMNIT! Strike three.
My shoulders slumped as I walked away from the table, the sounds of their giggles and kisses fading as I walked into the dish-pit. I had given up, I didn’t care anymore. No traditional anniversary was being celebrated and I had tried my best to appropriately congratulate them. Instead, they got a blanket “Congratulations!” on eight years…of what?! Perhaps they were celebrating some strange acceptance into a new bracket of Scientology; or better yet, the lining of the planets and were to later skinny dip into a pool of patchouli. What did I care? It’s an anniversary that they clearly were celebrating, privately.
Their entrees came and went, as did a bottle of wine. It came time to present the dessert menu and I walked over, defeated.
“Can I interest you in a complimentary dessert for you anniversary?”
“Oh yes!” answered the wife. The little boy had finally put down his video game, still not having uttered a word. I thought for sure that I had grasped his attention with the magical word dessert that seems to stop time for any child under 10; but to my surprise, he excused himself to go to the restroom instead. Husband and wife watched him as he walked up the stairs and rather than going straight to the closest facilities, turned left and sought out the others.
Thinking nothing of it, I turned to take the welcomed offer of dessert to see that the couple was dying of laughter. My face revealed a look of perplexity. Maybe this was a parent thing that I wasn’t picking up on. What was so funny?
“Returning to where it all started!” cackled the husband, which only sent the wife into another roaring episode of laughter.
Thinking that they needed a moment to come back to Earth, I excused myself from the table only to have them insist that they were ready.
“I’ll have something chocolate, whatever is your favorite-” said the wife.
“I love the chocolate torte. Does that sound alright?” I asked.
“Goodness, it’s a near repeat of eight years ago!” noted the husband.
I must have had a look on my face that said, “JUST TELL ME WHAT BLOODY HAPPENED EIGHT YEARS AGO!” as the wife looked at her husband, and then looked at me.
“We were here eight years ago for dinner…” whispered the wife.
“I sort of gathered that,” I replied.
“Yes, but our son wasn’t…” added the husband, eluding to something more.
“Ok…” I responded.
“But he was for dessert!” blurted the wife sending her into yet another episode of laughter.
“You see miss…our son will be 8 years-old, in nine months. We came here for dinner 7 years and 3 months ago…” hinted the husband.
“Yes, and our son is in the bathroom where-” began the wife.
“-it all started…” ended the husband.
I sat there for a moment looking at the two of them, wide-eyed and awaited that I had absorbed and computed the information that was just given to me. Having been so annoyed by their ambiguity all evening, I finally had serious hints that in a moment had all equated in my head.
“Oh…OH!” I got it. “Oh my! Well…congratulations again. I’ll be back in a moment with your desserts.”
I scurried off to the opposite side of the restaurant in efforts to escape. En route I ran directly into their son who was turning the corner walking out of the bathroom causing me to screech as though I had seen a tarantula, and put on the turbo in my walking to the back computer. I skipped the computer and darted into one of the vacant private dining rooms and sat down. They couldn’t have just told me that, right? No, no, no- Who would reveal such a thing?
Just then, the hostess poked her head into the private dining room.
“What was that?” she asked.
“I found out what anniversary they’re celebrating-” I said in between partial gagging.
“They were here for dinner…and for dessert-” I took a deep breath and thought about how to say it. Disturbed and with no other way than to just deliver the news as quickly as possible, I proceeded to blurt out, “they banged in the bathroom and conceived their son!”
The hostess gasped as her face contorted to reveal the prototypical look of absolute disgust. “What?! No fucking way! When?!”
“Eight years ago.”