There’s this Canadian pizza place not far from Niagara Falls. If you look through the window you can see the tables decked out in red and white checks. There are wooden chairs with square backs; there is a green, black and red menu. It is a typical pizza joint like any other pizza joint in the world.
Can you can see a man sitting with a beautiful woman, so beautiful that even other women notice? See there, she is dark skinned because she carries the ancient blood of Sicily and Calabria. The pale man next to her is me.
The man and the woman are on their honeymoon and they are in love. They think they will always be in love. And, because of this, they think everyone in the world is their friend; that everyone in the world is good. People smile at them in Hawaii and Vancouver and London. The world is really the same as it always was but the married couple don’t see its darkness any more.
If you look to the doorway now you will see a man from America is walking into the pizza place. He is about 50 and his wife about 30. She is Asian and seems nervous. They sit at a table not far from the lovers. He orders a beer and she asks for a coke.
The friendly waiter has been talking to the newly weds about Australia. “I have a cousin in Melbourne,” he says. Then he goes off to serve the only other couple in the restaurant.
The American drums his fat fingers. His wife touches his hand. She says something to him. He says, “I’ll send it back.” But she shakes her head, she says not to worry. But the man does worry. He calls the waiter. “This coke is not fresh,” he says.
“But, Sir,” says the waiter, “I poured it straight from the bottle. I don’t think…”
“Goddamn it,” says the man. “If the lady says it’s not fresh then it’s not fresh.” The waiter says he will get a fresh coke; the lady murmurs thankyou.
Soon the waiter is back and taking care to pour a new coke from the bottle that he opens at the table. The American is still angry. “Remember you’re in a service industry,” he growls.
The waiter, with the gentlest genuflection, says, “I hope that this coke is fresh, M’am.” And then he turns to the man. “I hope your daughter enjoys her meal, Sir.” The American turns red and yells, “Goddamn it, she’s my wife!”
As the waiter apologises, he turns to the Australians and for a moment a broad smile drifts across his face. And then he winks.
Later, in bed, the man and his beautiful wife laugh. Even waiters are funny and good when you’re in love.