I fancied myself a dashing young waiter in the late nineties. I was chasing a girl around the south at the time. Our parent’s were friends but we regarded each other as the children of parent’s friends do. We knew each other, but our interactions were limited to parties we were forced to attend. You don’t make friends there. You mingle and try not to let on that you’d like to be spending time with your real friends instead of the assembly.
I connected to her through DeVinci’s in the most indirect way.
I was in The Garage Café with a few friends and one of our former co-workers had just returned from a semester in Glasgow. We were talking about Scotland when my parent’s friend’s daughter walked in. Because of that loose relationship I knew my parent’s friends daughter had just returned from a nine month stint in Edinburgh.
I asked her to join us.
Next thing I know it was three in the morning and the daughter and I were the only ones left in the bar. There were a few years of stupidly tentative courtship involved but we’ve been married for nineteen years.
I have to bring this back to Bea Arthur.
A few months after we started dating she got a scholarship at Savannah College of Art and Design. You don’t say no to that. I followed her. I had to.
There is a restaurant in Savannah called Elizabeth on 37th. It’s an amazing place. They have Beard Awards for Best Chef South East, Best Wine List, Rising Star Chef. We got short listed for best service nationwide. This place amazes. I worked there.
Bea Arthur came in.
She was with a party of five or six. I can’t remember exactly. They were nice as all get out.
Fine dining restaurants have ten to fifteen percent dessert sales according to some study that a guy told me about. We were around sixty percent because we didn’t print a menu. We told you about the desserts. It was a play we’d verbally deliver. Pretty charming in fact.
There were six or seven options so they took a few minutes to go over and you needed at least three scripts in your repertoire so a table wouldn’t hear the same speech you just gave to another guest. You don’t want to be perceived as robotic.
Six or seven options – that’s a lot.
Bea Arthur had a problem hearing in one ear. I started one of my three scripts and she called me over. She wanted to hear so she wanted me to be closer to her. She put her hand on my back.
I go on and by the third dessert description her hand is at my wiast. We wanted to sell these things so it wasn’t a Trifle Cake. It was a Play on a Sponge with Strawberry Coolie and Crème Anglaise. The Triple Chocolate Cake with Double Dutch… you get the idea. Her arm got tired. She’s at my waist at this point.
By the time I’m talking about sorbet (which has a legendary story of it’s own) her hand is cupping my butt.
I don’t say anything. I just look at her. She looks at me and freaks the heck out, but her autonomous response was to squeeze my ass. I can’t watch Golden Girls anymore without telling everyone in the room about this.
She was so sweet.
I was given an obscene tip, tickets to her stage show (she got the time wrong so I Ieft them at will call as I had to cover a shift) and – this is key – I had a comedy legend laughing her self beyond propriety.