Fortunata wanted to celebrate her birthday, and so we did. We went to Foxfire, her current favorite place, Emory and Stannardsville drive, right next to the Starbucks. Fortunata gets what she wants. It's the eyes. She was an east Asian who should have had black eyes but didn't. Her eyes were a pale gray. She looked for all the world like an Alaskan husky except beautiful. Fortunata tells me my taste in women is atrocious. I'm beginning to believe her.

Cheryl was our waitress. Poor Cheryl.

Fortunata must have been in a bad mood, because nothing was good enough for her. The martinis were bad. Too much vodka, the first time. Then, too salty. Away, away. I had a sip. They weren't perfect, but they weren't bad. To the woman with the cool gray eyes however, they were wretched, and she didn't want them on her table.


Cheryl smiled graciously and took them back. She was tactful and composed about her customer's rudeness, and never let a shadow cross her face when hearing the mild rebuke in Fortunata's voice. The third version was finally found to be satisfactory.

Fortunata ordered imperiously. She liked things done a certain way. Isn't this a good thing? Shouldn't I admire a woman who knows what she wants? She ordered with a strict voice. The meat should be medium well, not black, not red inside, do you understand? Not burnt. And how was the pasta done? Was it done with oil? She only looked at Cheryl when she was asking questions, and when she was done with her she looked away, as if to say, I'm done with you, you may leave.

Cheryl knew exactly how the food was prepared. She knew the wines. She knew presentation of food. She knew when to come by and check on us and she knew when to leave us alone. Cheryl was a true professional.

After the meal Fortunata left a big tip. It was over 25% of the cost of the meal. I was actually shocked. She had approved of Cheryl's graciousness. Our waitress had softened even Fortunata's stony heart.

We left the restaurant. Fortunata walked out as she walks everywhere, with a sense of confidence. Perhaps it's arrogance. Doors open for her. When they don't, she waits for them to open. I felt only relief that we had gotten through the meal without a major incident.

Meanwhile, back at the restaurant, the entire waitstaff must have been relieved when Fortunata left. I called Cheryl a few days later to apologize. Whatever true feelings she had, she didn't appear to be bothered. Perhaps it was her days as a competitive beach volleyball player from Laguna Beach. She stayed California cool and said she enjoyed meeting people who knew what they wanted. Fortunata was, in some sense, just another competitor. Cheryl knew how to deal. She smiled - that was evident over the phone.


Two weeks later I asked if she wanted to do something relaxing. What did I have in mind, she asked. An evening out, dinner and a movie. There was a pause on the phone. Great, she said, that sounds good. You choose the movie, she said, but we're not going to a restaurant. I'll be cooking for you, and you're not saying a damned thing about the martinis.

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