Jessie stared at the menu. Her lactose intolerance and her allergies to peanuts and chocolate made choosing dessert a challenge. “Could I have the apple crisp, but without any sauce or ice cream?” she requested.
“Plain apple crisp - yes, ma'am.” The waiter nodded. “Coffee, ma’am?”
“Yes, please - black.” Jessie closed her menu and set it down. Tom, her blind date, placed his hand on top of hers where it rested on the table. “I like a woman who knows her own mind.”
“Well,” Jessie blushed a little. “It’s just that I have some food allergies and have to watch what I eat.” She hated the urge to explain herself.
“Your dessert, ma’am.” The waiter set a plate before her - a chocolate brownie topped with vanilla ice cream and decorated with delicate puffs of whipped cream. “And your Irish coffee, ma’am.” He placed a steaming glass mug of the frothy concoction to the right of her dessert.
“Wait,” Jessie exclaimed. “This is not what I ordered. I asked for a plain apple crisp and a cup of black coffee.”
The waiter apologized and removed the offending items. In a few minutes, he returned with an apple crisp topped with vanilla ice cream and sprinkled with chopped nuts. “Your black coffee will be here directly,” he assured Jessie. “We’re brewing a fresh pot right now.”
Jessie stopped him. “Please. I asked for a plain apple crisp - no ice cream, no sauce, no chopped nuts. Just a plain apple crisp. What part of ‘plain apple crisp’ do you not understand?” Jessie’s frustration was starting to show in her face and in her voice. She took a deep breath and told herself to calm down as the waiter removed the dessert from the table. “Sorry Tom.” She looked up at her date with a wry smile. “I don’t mean to be a pain. Maybe we should just skip dessert.”
Tom pushed back from the table abruptly and stood. “Excuse me a moment.”
Jessie watched him walk off. Had she pissed him off? Was he skipping out on her? What should she do? She checked and rechecked her watch. Five minutes passed. Ten minutes. She stared down at the table, her cup of black coffee untouched and getting cold. She would give Tom five more minutes before giving up on him.
Jessie looked at her watch again; it was time to move on. As she prepared to stand, she heard a commotion coming from the direction of the kitchen. The restaurant patrons fell silent as the chef led a procession of the entire kitchen staff to her table, a smiling Tom bringing up the rear. “My profound apologies for the mix-up, madame.”
The chef bowed as he took her hand and touched his lips to it. He turned to his retinue and clapped his hands. The waiter removed Jessie’s cold cup of coffee and swept crumbs from the tablecloth. Then, with a flourish, and a murmured apology, he placed silverware, a cup and saucer, and a fresh pot of steaming black coffee on the table. The chef turned to another member of his entourage, received a dessert plate from him, and placed it with great ceremony in front of Jessie. “I do hope that you will find this satisfactory, madame,” he pronounced. “Bon appetit.”
©2013 Phyllis Entis. All rights reserved.
A Note of Explanation: The prompt for this exercise was to imagine a first date, during which the restaurant brought the wrong item to the table three times.