Rob Taylor: Winning the Battle of Sicily
August 4, 2008
At a table for two, young love huddled close, enjoying fine dining and better company. They stared out the window, at the mountain stream rushing over the rocks and let their minds wander. Twice their eyes met. They smiled, sipped pinot noir and looked out the window again – saying nothing until the waiter arrived.
“Seared salmon, with rice” the young woman said.
Her husband ordered the petit filet, medium rare, then handed both menus to the waiter. They both ordered the same thing 2 years earlier – the night that he got down on one knee, in that very restaurant, at that very table.
“Thinking about it still gives me the goose bumps,” she said, squeezing his hand, breathing in the memory: the ambiance, the gourmet meal, the diamond, the proposal, the violin, the complimentary drink and Polaroid photo from the restaurant’s owner. “It was just perfect.”
He returned her warm glance, though for him, perfection only lasted until the dessert arrived.
“Oh, I’ll just have a bite of his. I couldn’t possibly eat dessert,” she said that night – flashing her engagement ring. The waitress eww-ed and ahh-ed.
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“Sorry to interrupt, but no dessert? You sure?” he asked. She was.
He ordered Sicilian tiramisu, not realizing what a revelation it would be. It arrived with two forks, looking like a Picasso.
“Now this is to die for,” he said after one bite, detecting – among other things – a splash of dark rum.
“Maybe I’ll just have a taste,” she said, taking a bite, then – in rapid succession – a second and a third.
He watched in horror, trying desperately to get a fork in edgewise. By the time he finished his third bite, he had lost the Battle of Sicily. The tiramisu was gone.
Though disgusted, he covered well – hiding behind sips of latte and a plastic smile. He drummed his fingers lightly on the table, but his bride-to-be was too lost in her diamond to notice. Several minutes passed before the waitress returned and the drumming subsided.
“Another order of tiramisu, please,” he said.
“Sorry. You ate the last one. Something else, perhaps? White chocolate mousse?
Chocolate cheesecake? Raspberry …”
“The last one! You can’t be serious … You are? Uh, no. No, thanks. Nothing else.”
“What is it, honey?” his fiancee asked, suddenly concerned.
“Nothing.” He winked at her, then stared out the window, wondering if beauty was – indeed – only skin deep. He sipped his lukewarm latte and reflected, desperately trying to forget Sicily.
But that was 2 years ago, when he was young and naïve. Before he saw through “I’ll just have a bite of yours.” His wife, he had learned, was a delicate eater by day – one who “picked” at her food. By night, she was a whole new woman – frequently invading the freezer at the stroke of midnight and devouring Ben and Jerry’s by the pint-load.
Now a married man, he no longer left dessert to chance. Sometimes, he allowed her a single bite, saying, “You had your bite. I’m cutting you off.”
But that night – the night of their 2-year anniversary – tiramisu was on the menu. He ordered two. When dessert arrived, something magical happened: His wife pushed her plate toward him.
“I am too full to eat it … really,” she said, leaning close and rubbing his shoulder.
“Happy Anniversary,” she whispered.
That night, his smile was not plastic. He pecked her on the cheek, picked up his fork and fell in love with her (and Sicily) all over again.
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