A Luminous Halo

"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." --Virginia Woolf

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Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Smith ’69, Purdue ’75. Anarchist; agnostic. Writer. Steward of the Pascal Emory house, an 1871 Second-Empire Victorian; of Sylvie, a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL; and of Taz, a purebred Cockador who sets the standard for her breed. Happy enough for the present in Massachusetts, but always looking East.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Singing Waiter and Talking Waiter

Tonight found me at the Macaroni Grill in Portland, Maine. It's a fairly undistinguished Italian style chain restaurant, something like Olive Garden. The kind of place that hits you over the head with the "Italian" theme, but in fact is nothing like an actual restaurant in Italy.

Our waiter was Justin, or "Justino," as he liked to be called. He wrote his name on our paper tablecloth with a marker to make his point, adding a flourish to the "o." He plunked down a big bottle of the house wine, a chianti, strongly recommending it. We did, in fact, order a bottle--in a more reasonable 750 ml size. Justino was so busy chatting us up that he heard "chianti" but not "standard bottle," uncorking the biggie before we could stop him. Unfortunately, only two of our party were wine drinkers. Or maybe fortunately. We did our best to plow through it.

I was so hungry that I ordered pasta--virtually my only vegetarian option--and enjoyed it. I won't bore my regular readers with another tirade about "Italian" menus. See my post of 3/18/2007 for that.

We listened to the singing waiter commemorating birthdays at several nearby tables. We listened to Italian lessons piped into the rest rooms. We listened to Justino's nonstop patter. But mostly we listened to each other. It had been awhile since this particular group of friends was all together, and we had a lot of catching up to do. The best thing about the Macaroni Grill was that they let us sit for nearly four hours without a single dirty look.

When we finally wandered out, most of the tables were empty. On every other tablecloth, "Justino" was scrawled. I had a piece of meat filched from another plate, wrapped in a napkin, for Taz. Another thing you don't do in Italy.

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