“Hi,” she almost whispered to me. “I have a reservation, to meet, um, someone.”
Ah, the “someone” reservation. Someone has the potential to be one of many types of customers:
–“I am here for a retirement party for SOMEONE in my office, but I have no clue who, because I just started working there this week.”
–“I am here to meet SOMEONE I only know on the phone, and I left their business card at home.”
–“I am here to have lunch with SOMEONE who set up our lunch meeting, but I’ve only met them once, a year or so ago, and I don’t remember their name or what they look like.”
But my keen ability to read people told me this particular whispered SOMEONE was the as yet unknown, but potential, Mr. half of a future Mr. and Mrs. SOMEONE.
Enter, The Blind Date.
My restaurant has evolved into a mini bastion of lunchers looking for love. They come in via “Just Lunch” or “Just Drinks” or “Just Because My Stupid Friend Set Me Up And I Couldn’t Say No One More Time.” Usually the reservation is easy to spot. A first name in the last-name slot; another first name in the first-name slot. Bingo, blind date.
No matter how busy my foyer is, no matter how slammed we are at 12:30 p.m., I am a sucker for dwelling on the blind-date rendezvous, doing my best to make the introductions myself in a vain attempt to right all the wrongs I have wielded in my past efforts to set up my single friends–always a disaster. If I introduce the blind-date customers to one another in my foyer, and they click, then my bad fix-up karma is, well, fixed–right?
A girl can dream.
There was the really tall guy in jeans and the really short girl in a suit, a date I am sure didn’t work, because their initial assessment of each other was twin deer-in-the-headlight expressions. But they pretty much found each other on their own, then came forward to the podium to say they were ready to be seated. So, I don’t count that as another of my failures.
The two incredibly shy people whose first names we had wrong in the book, but whom I connected anyway, seemed right for each other. They could barely look each other in the eye, but they seemed compatible that way. Half a point for them, I say.
And the kind-of-cute guy and the very uptight I-am-woman-hear-me-roar young lady sat at their table for more than an hour. I consider that a positive sign.
But this one, the whisperer, she was drop-dead gorgeous with the perfect name to fit: Annabella.
Please, please, please I begged the blind date gods, let Antonio–the SOMEONE she was meeting–be all of the dark good looks that his name implies. Blind-date couples can move right along to the do-I-even-remotely-like-you-enough-to-talk-to-you phase, when the looks issue is no longer an issue.
“I’ll wait over at that bar,”Annabella told me, a glimmer of confidence shining through.
“Great. I’ll bring Antonio over when he arrives,” I smiled.
“Thanks,” she smiled back.
I liked her. In any other situation, I predict she has nerves of steel.
Deuces, four-tops, and large parties came and went. A half hour passed. True, Annabella was early for the reservation, but still. No way was Antonio standing her up. Was he? He couldn’t be!
As if I had a shred of control over this.
Every few minutes I glanced over at the quickly filling bar. Annabella sat elegantly on the stool, nursing an iced tea, laughing quietly with one of my favorite bartenders. Yeah, she is awesome and deserves a great SOMEONE, I decided.
“Excuse me. I have a reservation,” smiled the young man as he approached the podium.
“Sure, the last name?” I asked.
“Just me–Antonio. I am here to meet…”
“Oh, Antonio, hello!” Rapid heart beat. So cute. “Please, follow me.”
We had to make our way through a bit of a throng, and as we neared the bar, Annabella must have sensed our arrival. She swung around, tilting her head, smiling just a hint of a smile.
“Annabella,” I told her, “This is Antonio.”
They exchanged a firm hand shake, looked each other right in the eye, then gazed at one another for the briefest of seconds longer.
“Follow me, please, and I’ll show you right to your table.”
I was invisible. The booth was pointless. The menu was moot. Their waiter was irrelevant.
They adored each other on the spot. I just know it.
I just know it.
I mean, I am pretty sure….