was pleasantly weary and hungry following my 40 miles or so of riding the D&L canal on a rented bike in a recent visit to my buddy in Easton PA. I’d dropped the bike off, strolled home to the hotel, took a shower, took a nap, and now set out for dinner, We are Pirates, my current written companion, under my arm. With the Sunday evening slowly settling over this small Pennsylvanian town I found an outdoor cafe – crowded inside, which I couldn’t understand – the evening was so perfect. Settled down on the last outside table on the end, a nice private spot. Ordered a glass of wine from the waitress, to be followed by a 12″ pizza (chicken and barbeque sauce). I’d ridden far. I could eat what I wanted. And I’d walked over. I could drink as much as I wanted. It would be perfect.
So I just enjoyed my wine as an occasional car probed by, looking for a parking spot. The story was rounding out, finishing up. I wasn’t sure where it was going – I’ll talk further about this in this week’s review. But yeah, so the book was twisty, the wine interestingly tart, the weather perfect, my body tired, my belly yawning.
The waitress made an appearance, placing the pizza rack on the table, the historic message that your pizza is on final. Ordered another glass.
Of course, I really didn’t think about the table set up. See, it was a metal mesh table. A umbrella went through the center and some clever dick in design had figured that would be a heck of a place for a condiments shelf. So there is this disk, bigger than a hub cap, positioned right at pizza-tray height.
I had another sip of wine, turned another page.
The pizza came out, all loaded with chicken chunks, all orange with sauce. And mine, all mine. Of course, it was a tight fit to get the tray in against the condiments rack – the waitress had to put it on the corner to my left, a bit of a reach, and slide it just right so it would fit. No matter. I took a piece from the tray. I took a bite. Mmmmm. Pizza. I was just lifting my glass to toast this perfect evening when something moved.
Slowly, like the Titanic going bow-first, I noticed that the table-edge leg of the tray was haphazardly placed. As I watched, it went over the edge. And my pizza, my glorious piping-hot pizza, as slowly as all disasters, tipped and went over the side. The tray bwanged on the pavement, the pizza spattered sauce and chicken all over the mesh seats and sidewalk.
Oh good God.
The table of yuppies a short distance off grew quiet as they observed my disaster.
So what to do?
I went inside and explained what happened. No problem (the waitress said with irritation), they’d make another. Then I came out, tossed every piece of pizza (yes, the seven I hadn’t gotten to) onto the recovered tray. The chairs I tapped out on gutter-side, to get the goo off. I tried to get back to my book but it was covered with saucy cheese. My hands were sticky. And the waitress, that sweet, piqued thing, didn’t come out to check. No napkins. No quick sweep up. She didn’t even come to take the tray of pizza-wreckage away.
So I sat there, sipping wine. Passersby would glance at the orange scatter-shot pavement, the mound of pizza-flops on the plate, and arch an eyebrow. The yuppies buzzed like crickets in the field, having something new to talk about.
I sipped my wine.
Eventually my new pizza came, the waitress removing the tray support but leaving the plate of massacred pizza behind. I really wished she hadn’t done that – it seemed like petty vengeance for a mistake that she, in some minor way, had a hand in.
I ate my pizza carefully, sipping wine.
The book was quite good.
p.s. Yes, I tipped her for the trouble. $40 for a $28 bill.