We had been drinking beer at the Mount Royal Tavern when hunger called. Tired of the same old chili and BBQ, we decided to go out to dinner together. Where we would go could be decided en route. We went in Bill’s car, Patty in the front with him, Betsy and I in the rear.
He headed for the Inner Harbor and when we reached Little Italy he parked there. It was Saturday evening and the restaurants were crowded, lines spilling out onto the sidewalk in front of several places.
“How about pizza, “Patty said and that was fine with the rest of us.
“I hear Georgio’s is good.”
“It was the last time I ate there”, I said.
“Fine with me”, Betsy said.
There was no line outside, but inside it looked like we were in for a long wait. All the tables were occupied and there were at least a dozen people in line in singles or groups. When the hostess came to take our names she said there would be at least half an hour’s wait, probably closer to three quarters.
I said, “When you’re hungry is not a good time to go out to eat.” No one disagreed. The noise level of the chatter was high and there was background music. You had to speak quite loudly to be heard. Even the bar was crowded. Bill and I gravitated over there to have stand up beers, while the women held our places in line. They declined drinks until we were at a table. By the time Bill and I had finished our beers, not one table had cleared, so we ordered another. Then another, with the line still not moving.
Finally one table emptied, then another, in quick succession. On our third beers, it looked like the line was still half an hour long. We asked the women if they would prefer to move on to someplace else. They said we had been here this long, we might as well stay. By this time there were people behind them as far as the door, so we might as well stay in line. It was probably just as bad elsewhere.
“Gotta piss”, Bill said and disappeared inside the men’s room. I stood nursing the rest of my beer before I followed suit.
In quick succession, a table became vacant and Bill came out of the men’s room. Instead of coming over to me or the women, he went to the empty table and sat down. Bill was like that. He motioned to me and to the women to come over. I was reluctant, and they refused. Women are like that. I went over and sat opposite him.
The table had not been cleared; there was still pizza on it- a lot of pizza. Bill began wolfing it down and I didn’t need a lot of urging. Ravenous, we polished it off and kept beckoning to Patty and Betsy to join us so we could order for all of us. They kept ignoring us as if to signify we’re not with them.
When we tried to get a waitress’s attention, we became aware of two people standing silently beside the table, a man and a woman. They were staring down at us, more amused than angry, but waiting quietly to see which way things were going to go. I understood immediately, but it took a while for the significance to sink in on Bill.
I asked if this was their table. They nodded yes.
“And that was your pizza?” Bill asked, slurring his words a bit. They nodded yes.
I said, getting quickly up, “Please, please take your table back. We’re sorry.”
“Very sorry”, Bill said. “I thought you had gone.”
“Please order anything on the menu. On us”, I said. “We’ll make it up to you.”
They accepted our apologies graciously, saying it could happen to anybody and settled for more pizza just like they had when they went to the rest rooms. And they said thanks for the beer we bought them.
Meanwhile Betsy and Patty had watched the whole thing with great delight and were giggling themselves silly.
When Bill and I got back to them, he said, “Let’s get out of here. I’m not in the mood for Italian.”
®Copyright 2014 Jack Scott. All rights reserved.