dinner out

by richibi

                                 The Birth of Venus, c.1482-1486
                                              Sandro Botticelli
                                                                                                                                       these earlier “back tracks”, of which the following is one example, are pieces I consider still to be worth your while
                                                                                                                                      please enjoy                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                dinner out:
                                                                                                                                     the night was clear, a slender moon shone in an indigo sky, I thought instead of staying in and watching Rock Hudson, Doris Day, Tony Randall, and a gay-as-a-goose Paul Lynde in “Pillow Talk” in German I´d venture out instead the day after all after Christmas to find a place to eat, preferably something Italian, I had in mind a restaurant I´d visited when I’d been in Dresden last that might be open, it was
                                                                                                                                        a place for one, I asked somewhat meekly, if you have one, and pointed to a table in a corner that seemed unoccupied, I´d worried about reservations on the special occasion that was that night, but the table was free, and rendered somewhat grudgingly, I suspected, where a couple at least would´ve been more, to their mind, worthy
                                                                                                                                        I sat at a table that could’ve been cleaner, whisked it off with a brush of my hand, a candle on the checked red and white tablecloth in the very colours of Christmas in the otherwise dim light made me overlook the slight if unconscionable inconvenience
                                                                                                                                     cutlery arrived and a soft but sturdy napkin, on a silver platter no less, that I felt would duly resolve the remiss, I spread the serviette, folded primly under, on my lap, sipped an excellent Valpolicella while I waited for the main service, a green salad that I would have, I asked, in concert with the fettucine, not on the same plate of course, I had to explain, but that I would enjoy at its side, a delicious pasta with salmon and yellow asparagus in a light cream sauce
                                                                                                                                        I was left to my own private devices, the restaurant was full, the staff busy, I savoured the endives, the steaming and succulent main course, indifferent to the indifferent service, but precise nevertheless about a second glass of wine
                                                                                                                                      out of nowhere, or out of a fantasy perhaps, once many of the early diners had departed and many of the tables had been cleared, a woman, or rather a vision, had arrived, was seated across from me alone at her own private table, I was entranced, I rarely see women eat alone in any even moderately elegant restaurants, they´ve always expressed fear and modesty, I´ve always thought that so impractical
                                                                                                                                      she seemed alone, so conscientious, so present yet so dependent upon the courtesy and good will of her suitors, whoever they might turn out to be, I saw Botticelli´s Venus being born from the waters, aquiver but unaware yet of any possible adversity
                                                                                                                                      the waiter, an older gentleman, who´d been merely polite to me, tended attentively to her graces, she opened to him a defenseless smile trusting his recommendations, she turned her neck, nubile as a swan´s, back to the menu´s pages pondering them closely as though they were priceless art, pointing out with a querying finger an item, hoping tentatively for clarification
                                                                                                                                      he was of course obsequious
                                                                                                                                    later she sipped her wine, tasted her food with elegance, poise, poetry
                                                                                                                                        I watched mesmerized
what should I do, what should I say, I wondered, should I let the moment pass, knowing full well that I could never tell this story if I were simply to walk away
                                                                                                                                        I practiced my German rendition as I savoured my second glass of red wine, the waiter had taken my fee, been politely inquisitive about my whereabouts, Vancouver, I of course replied, on the Canadian Pacific, where they´ll soon hold the Winter Olympics, so far from home it´s a surprise to find that some have no idea
                                                                                                                                        I sipped my last drop, stood up, but the server had returned to her table, I sat back, waited for him to move away
                                                                                                                                          I left my coat at my table, boldly crossed over to her side, excuse me, I started in German, entschuldigen Sie mich bitte, if I could have a moment of your time, German, French, English, I will speak what I must, but I suspected that so bold an apparition would speak English, my muses would have created that, or maybe some arcane but serendipitous nevertheless cultural affinity
                                                                                                                                        I don´t wish to offend you, I said, and I´ll be gone in just a moment, but I´ve seen you, watched you from my distance eating all alone the day after Christmas, I think I´m something of a poet, I´ve seen your grace, your poise, your poetry, you are a poem to me, I needed to tell you that, I thought this would bring you some enjoyment, I hope you will forgive me if I´ve been too brash
                                                                                                                                    thank you, she said, thank you, her eyes gleamed, shimmered, her hair soft, I´m sure, as sunlight, glowed in the golden candlelight, I noticed her russet freckles
                                                                                                                                        I took my leave, turned my back to her as I donned my scarves and winter coat against the winter cold, moved towards the door
                                                                                                                                          I waved a last goodbye, she waved back