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They Can Have Their Cake And Eat It Too
(A Short Story About A Candle Light Dinner) The waiter brought a packaged cake but not the check. Pete was astonished and asked whether the waiter had heard him
Joanna and Pete followed the waiter to a quiet table in the corner. The table was beautifully set with candles and a long-stem rose. Even the color of the rose was just right. Joanna always had this weakness for yellow roses. Pete had reserved the table months before. This was their tenth wedding anniversary. The restaurant was one that they had always wanted to dine at. They had booked it before but kept canceling it. On one occasion, their staff messed up a very important order and they had to stay back to sort it out. On another, Joanna’s best friend had her waters broken and needed a lift to get to the labor ward in time. There were also other occasions and cancellations the details of which they couldn’t recall. This night they would not postpone it anymore. Everything had to be just right, and it was. The waiter was always smiling, polite and non-obtrusive. The music was soft. The oysters were tasty. The goose liver was the best they had had in years. Not even the strictest food critic could find anything wrong with the scallops, the lobsters, or the duck. All the finest details were right throughout the meal. Even the mint was perfect. They should have made this dinner a long time ago.
Joanna and Pete were holding hands through the night whenever they were not eating. They had not said much but love was in their eyes. After asking for the check, Pete told Joanna, “I have had ten wonderful years, the best time ever in my life. Thanks, Darling.”
“Me, too. I love you.” Pete and Joanna leaned forward for a long kiss. The waiter brought a packaged cake but not the check. Pete was astonished and asked whether the waiter had heard him right.
“The elderly gentleman sitting at the table next to you had paid your check. He also wanted you to have his wedding anniversary cake.” The waiter pointed at the table next to them.
With doubt all over his eyes, Pete turned and searched for their unexpected host. The gentleman smiled and walked towards them.
“I beg your pardon. May I sit down?”
“Of course, but you have to tell us why you are doing this.”
The gentleman was in his late sixties. He was wearing an elegant black suit and a silk bow and had the sleekest silvery hair to go with the outfit. He had success written all over his face, which was blushing from excitement. Pete and Joanna liked him instantly but they couldn’t understand why he had a glisten suggestive of tears in his eyes.
“I’m sorry to have disturbed you. Please forgive my uninvited presence. My name is Joe. My wife, Gladys, and I used to come here for our wedding anniversaries. This is my first anniversary after cancer took her last month. We made this reservation and ordered the cake so long ago. I had been so busy during and after her last days that I forgot to cancel the booking. When they called up to remind me about it, I thought I would still turn up and spend a quiet evening thinking about Gladys. I came prepared to feel cold, lonely and heart-broken. Then I noticed that the two of you were also here to celebrate your wedding anniversary. I was really glad to see the way you were holding hands and looking at each other in love. I knew that you were here for a reason. Gladys had sent you to help me re-live and celebrate our love and marriage. Looking at you, I felt the most warmth I’ve had since Gladys’ death. Let me play host as a token of my gratitude. Congratulations on your anniversary and love for each other.” Joe held out his hand to shake Pete’s hand and then Joanna’s.
Joanna was in tears, sobbing and shaking. Pete was fighting his emotions and finally managed to respond. “Joe, you were right. We were here for a reason. We had been expanding our business too rapidly. That had caused us to lose everything and still owe much more in the recent economic nose-dive. From tomorrow, we won’t even own the clothes we’re wearing now. We had come here to have a nice anniversary dinner, thank each other for the love and the great marriage before we drive ourselves off the bridge into the river.” Joe opened his mouth but could not find the words to say.
Pete continued, “But, Joe, you are also here for a reason. You are not only here to buy us dinner, but to help us realize that we actually haven’t lost much, at least, not quite everything. We have been blind and crazy, working on such a ruthless plan. Thank you so much, Joe. I think we’ll go home now. Tomorrow when the guys from court have been in and left, we will still have each other. We will also have your cake to remind us of our great wealth in marriage and each other. I am sure these people will let us keep the cake. Of course, we’ll stand on our feet again and start all over. You can leave a contact number if you don’t mind. We will find a place to go and invite you to come over and share the cake. Darling, don’t you think it’s a great idea?” Pete smiled and asked Joanna. Once again, he was the confident man who promised to look after her, come what may, ten years ago.
Joanna laughed heartily, “Of course, Pete. Joe, you can’t say no to us. You don’t expect us to eat all this poisonous cholesterol by ourselves, do you? You were the one who forgot to cancel the cake. You don’t think you can stay out of this, do you? ”