Monday, July 2, 2012

Another Billy Whiskers Morning

Like Mark Twain, rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated. Although I have not posted a blog in the last four days, I am, indeed, very much alive. The weather here has truly deserved the description heavenly, and nothing short of encapsulation in a full body cast could keep me from the garden. There, the bees are busy drinking from the fountain or washing their tiny feet in its water; hummingbirds hang with wings outstretched on champagne-like air; and David and I have been laboring like beasts. But happy beasts.

This felicitous time reached its apogee Sunday morning, at the Billy Whiskers Café, where we arrived almost as the doors opened, already having worked up an appetite in the morning garden. Soon tables were filling up with the regulars and Attitude was flying, or hanging unspoken and suspended, on hummingbird wings.

Our first clue that it was going to be a feisty morning came when Rick sent the first order out of the kitchen along with the bill, on which he had scrawled, Prices vary according to attitude. “Whose attitude?” the customer asked. “His,” Karen responded. “Or mine. As need be.”

A tuneless, perfectly unmelodic whistle arose from the kitchen. Karen, coffee pot in hand, rolled her eyes. “I taught him to whistle, so he wouldn’t sing.” A customer ordered his toast “cremated,” and it came out appropriately scorched, as did my bacon and several other dishes. “We do cremation well,” Karen confided. “Besides, today we’re just playing like we own a restaurant.” The little pitcher that accompanied someone’s oatmeal was empty of milk. The same customer had to remind Karen to pour him some coffee, interrupting our discussion of Charles Surendorf’s paintings that decorate the café’s walls. To say that things were a little uneven is not overstating.

One regular couple is well advanced in age (by which I mean older than us, which means really old!) and the gentleman particularly enjoys the banter. He was once a very tall man, now bent nearly double at the waist but he hasn’t let that slow him down. His wife went off the restroom and another couple entered and asked where she was. “Fifty-five years of marriage and she’s finally left me,” he responded. “I suppose it was inevitable. It was bound to happen, sooner or later.” They were on their way to the hospital in Modesto, where he is to be treated for an infection. Less humorous thoughts of separation must have crossed both their minds and their levity is really a kind of courage.

We were on our way out when Rick emerged from the kitchen announcing, “I’m taking a customer survey . . .”. We were eager to get back to our gardens, so we’ll never know just what was being queried, but I think I heard something like, “Which is worse, this morning, the service or the food?” as the door closed behind me.

Nevertheless, all this transpired with great good cheer. As one customer remarked happily, “I come here for the abuse.”

No comments: