It’s lunch. I’m managing the floor but the new waiter is overwhelmed. I have to leave my beloved NY Times behind and actually do some work. Now I’m in a foul mood.

I target the most impatient looking table. Two middle aged businessman. They’re doing the “where the hell is the waiter?” bobblehead thing.

I recite the specials. The fat one peers at me with porcine eyes.

“Waiter is all the pasta homemade?” he inquires.

I reply that some pasta, like the ravioli, gnocchi, and pappardelle are handmade. The spaghetti is out of the box.

“All the pasta should be homemade daily,” the man harrumphs.

Oh great. I’ve got a gourmand on my hands.

“Well I’ll have the Spaghetti Gamberi,” he says. Mmmm. One of my favs. Spaghetti with plump shrimp in an oil and garlic sauce with peppers and chilies. Delicious.

“Would you like your dish spicy or mild?” I inquire.

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” the man retorts

“I’m sorry sir did I say something wrong?” I reply confused.

“If you have to ask if I want the dish spicy or mild then the chef doesn’t know what he’s doing. That’s not a good sign.”

I wonder if now’s a good time to tell fatso about his resemblance to Sydney Greenstreet.

“Sir it’s just about giving the customers what they want.” I say.

“Well they’re all idiots,” he shoots back.

“Yes sir. Some people have uneducated palates and manners.” I comment dryly.

My dig is lost on Sydney. But then again I imagine a lot is lost on Sydney.

“I want my dish spicy. Not like everyone else has it,” he crows.

“Not a problem sir,” I say smiling. I turn on my heel and go into the kitchen.

Our fab sexy Italian import sous chef Armando is cooking up a storm. He’s a nice guy.

“Hey Armando! I’ve got a guy who told me that if I have to ask him if he wants the Gamberi spicy or mild YOU don’t know how to cook.” I yell

“Oh really?” Armando grins evily.

“He wants it spicy.” I say.

“Does he?” Armando says.

I point smiling to the crushed red pepper and intone slowly in my best deep evil voice,


Armando grabs the hot stuff and pours it liberally into the sauté pan.

A few minutes later I deliver Sydney’s entrée. The mere smell is making my eyes water.

He tucks into it greedily. Armando applied the spice perfectly. The heat doesn’t hit Sydney right away but sneaks up on him slowly. Sweat beads on his fleshy forehead.

“How’s your pasta sir?” I inquire sweetly.

“Spicy,” he croaks.

“Is it too hot? I can take it back if you want.”

“No” he says shaking his mammoth head, “Just the way I like it.” Yeah sure.

“More water sir?”


To my surprise Sydney eats the whole dish. He downs copious amounts of H2o.

When they finish I ask if they want dessert.

“Ice cream,” is Sydney’s brief desperate reply.

The eat dessert and pay the bill. The tip is sub optimal as I knew it would be.

“Come on Rick we have too get back to the office,” Sydney says mopping his forehead.

I stifle a laugh. Rick? You can’t make this stuff up.

Sydney waddles out. In an hour he’ll be sitting on the bowl, crying like a wild dingo in the outback, dropping a burning dump the size of the Maltese Falcon.

Somehow I don’t think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Never tell the chef he doesn’t know how to cook.

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