When a sudden thunderstorm tried to dampen our anniversary trip to the zoo—what could be more romantic after a dozen years of parenting than to watching somebody else scoop poop—we adapted to the situation with a stunning Superman-type clothes changing extravaganza in the car, and hit the road.
Dry and comfy, we headed down the marital bliss superhighway, carefully searching for a restaurant for our celebratory meal. (Look, there’s a Wendy’s over there. There’s McDonald’s. There’s an Italian place on this side of the street. Turn! Turn, you blockhead, don’t you see I’m wasting away? TURN!)
We stared dreamily at one another until our car hit the curb and we remembered to go inside, our thoughts drifting together toward our years together, the beautiful horizon of the future, and how we would smuggle my wet underwear into the house from the glove compartment without submitting to interrogation from the boys who, even at ages 20 and 22 would rather discover that wrestling is real than admit their mother wears underwear.
The restaurant was a semi-expensive one of the sort that boasts cloth napkins, large tables, and loads of atmosphere a la carte where there’s no turning back if you order tea because the waitress whisks away the wine glass like it’s a dead relative’s corpse. Décor was early toga and artificial armless statuary. I’m pretty sure the food was real, though, and I had enough left over to add to the takeout box section of my refrigerator at home.
As we left, my reckless consumption of sweet tea at supper gave me an urgency to visit the little goddess’s room. I crossed the faux marble tiles, selected door number 1, and made a discovery.
It’s not really a sign of good things to come when blood begins to drip on the floor of the stall next to you. It came like the thunderstorm at the zoo, first in patters and then torrents, and I was just wondering whether to offer assistance or call CSI when I realized the victim was talking on her cell phone.
At first I was somewhat alarmed at the potential for bad manners on my part. What would Emily Post say is the proper procedure when installed next to an indisposed party spouting blood like an open spigot? Would she approve of someone chatting away on the telephone while dancing with death in a Mt. Olympus themed powder room?
Because I’m from the South, and made of “can I help you?” I felt guilty jerking my foot out of the path of the blood flow without mentioning why: “Excuse me, but could you gush your lifeforce out in torrents in the other direction so as not to damage my espadrilles? There’s a good girl!” Or how about, “I’m sorry, but O positive doesn’t do a thing for my strappy sandals. Could you aim toward the out-of-date Ferragamos on your right, please?”
Then I realized the screaming noises I heard over mine were from the injured party next door who was not merely phoning a friend, but who was in the midst of a nosebleed crisis due to the extreme heat of the day, and who was also an employee of the restaurant, phoning the front desk for help.
How clever is that? The next time I’m hanging out in the “There’s a 30 minute wait” area of a restaurant, I plan to while away my time calling the front desk with obscure medical emergencies.
Helpful Restaurant Person: “Hello? Fancy Restaurant Name!”
Me: “Yes, hi. I just notice there is a lizard embedded in my ear. Could you help me with that?”
Helpful Restaurant Person: “Of course. Would you prefer to wait at the bar?”
Just now, though, my thoughts turned immediately to the safety of my takeout box, which was presently snuggled in the arms of my sweetheart, the Captain of this dinner cruise down Runny Nose River. What caused my brow to draw up like the knot in a toddler’s shoestring, was the unknown identity of the gushing employee.
Was it someone intimately acquainted with the preparation of my pasta? Had the cook been stirring with one hand and dabbing a nasal fountain with the other?
Was it the nice lady who kept my table supplied with beverages and breadsticks and who took extra pains to grate cheese onto my entrée in an attractive manner. Was my waitress spouting blood like an O-positive whale? Had she been leaking her life’s blood while I was twirling marinara-laden noodles around my trident shaped fork?
I washed my hands thoroughly several times with Lady Macbeth hand soap and met hubby under the Goddess of Love combination statue and ashtray by the door.
I took my takeout box from him and deposited it neatly in a convenient trash receptacle.
“Hey, what’s that all about?” he asked, thoughts of a midnight snack evaporating in his head.
I grinned at him. “I’ve had a bloody good anniversary,” I answered. “But enough is enough.”