“This is the best creme brule in the whole world” the words pop like champaign out of her as the light brown crust breaks beneath her gleaming silver spoon once again.
“Only the best for you on your birthday, Sweetheart.” the deep pride I feel beams from every fiber of my being. The anniversary of her birth has always been a time of unbridled celebration for the both of us. Tonight I have meticulously planed the occasion with our favorite chef, Maurice. Every course has been a masterpiece now we sit at desert bathed in the glow of the deep love that can only be formed by time.
“I have presents at the house.” I offer.
She giggles and says “I think I know what one of them is.”
I know she is referring to my consistent choice of lingerie and can only laugh. In the mean time Maurice has arrived at our table and in his most sincere tone inquires “Has everything met with your satisfaction this evening?”
“Oh you know it does and more.” she continues, even more insistent “Maurice you can never close down the restaurant and you can never stop cooking.”
“For you madam anything, anytime” Maurice is being more than truthful when he says this. He has catered huge affairs at our home nearly as frequently as he we have come to his fine establishment. While I am taking in the beauty of the moment, my wife of so many years, so many joyous years, glows radiating with the beauty that entranced me long ago.
Maurice has joined us at the table a bottle of expensive and nectarous ruby port along with three delicate glasses in his hands. He wishes her a happy birthday and we toast with this delicious and fortified fruit of the vine. Our talk runs from old times to new plans deep into the night laughter and friendship deepen.
In no way do I deserve such a really good friend as Maurice his indulgence with me is always so gentle. Now my head is spinning, but my life is coming into focus again. What ghosts of phantoms of memories darken my heart and infect my mind? Why do I wind up here every year on her birthday? This is where I waited when she stood me up, but I think it must be even more than that.
“You know, she never talked to me after that night.” the look on Maurice's face tells me I am slurring my words again
“But of course, how could I forget? You came here every night for a month always absolutely punctual 7:25 for a 7:30 reservation. I don't believe I have ever seen a man so sad.” Maurice always said he admired my faith and persistence in the face of such obvious defeat. Well he always said that after I over heard one of the waiters referring to me as Don Quixote.
“Thank you for the way you took care of me at that time my friend.” that's certainly what I meant to say I am not sure what it sounded like.
Here is why Maurice is perhaps my best friend, not only did he offer me yet another drink of fine port he offered me a ride home. Far from the first time this had practically become a ritual. I suppose it can be a good thing to live in the same house for twenty years. No need to tell your friendly chef, who is giving you a ride, where you live when you are pretty unsure yourself.
As we glide to my home Maurice's car is warm it's a Lexus I think, I know he always buys a comfortable one. The music is pleasant it relaxes me even while my head spins. I feel myself drifting, drifting far away.
“Baby, we're almost home” her voice softly raises me to consciousness once more and I smile.
The car runs noiselessly down the street and up the driveway now we are back home. I anticipate her next words, but I am startled to hear something completely different.
“I am not certain how old he was, at least fifty. Yes he lived alone for a very long time.”
That voice seems so familiar, wait now I remember I was riding home with Maurice. That's his voice. And, how can this be I haven't seen her for decades yet she is here with me now. I can see her right beside me. What does it mean that Maurice's voice has grown so faint, I can no longer understand the words. It seems I am out of the car. Awfully funny I don't recall opening the door. Lovingly she takes my hand and into the house we go.
“He really was quite pleasant I will miss him.” that's my friend, Maurice, gracious to the end.