Stylish Tuesday

 Stylish Tuesday

February 20, 2018

Emily Jo Donatello

(call me Em)



Please open the audio below in another window and listen while reading this entry:



Resplendently, Jennie White came to town.



Of a Tuesday, I knew, she had a regular reason to be out and about. Ordinarily, despite my knowing her schedule, mine and hers would be hard to match. For this day I’d planned ahead, and we could meet. She came to my apartment. From there we were to have lunch in Montclair, a town full of restaurants of many cuisines. Befitting the location, I suggested an upscale suburbanite look. Yes, Jennie said and marvelously complied. Later after lunch, I noted, we appeared as though she, persuasive Library Board Chairman, was recruiting me to join the board.



Montclair has so much to recommend it and so many women like us – yes, I’m told, just like us. What Montclair doesn’t have is sufficient parking. Jennie drove; I navigated. Round and round in the neighborhood of the restaurant I’d chosen, round and round we went. Finally on a side street we got lucky, and Jennie maneuvered her bimmer into a free, unmetered space.


The day – for mid-February – was unusually warm, in the 50’s as we parked. Carrying our coats, we walked to the restaurant. On arrival my eye caught a printout posted inside the front door, “Due to unforeseen circumstances, we are closed Tuesday.”


I was flabbergasted, not having checked further than online for the place’s hours. I should’ve called beforehand to verify. Jennie, undaunted, said we’d find another. Off we went. Nearby, I knew from my own previous perambulations, was a street of numerous restaurants. We walked there. Jennie, discriminating in her review of the available establishments, wanted to look them all over before making a choice. Up one side of the street and down the other we walked. Of course, after amiable discourse we chose the first one we’d passed.



Let the first audio play out, then…

Please open the audio below in another window and listen while reading this entry:



“Franco Fresco” it was. At first we wondered whether lunch was being served, as no one was seated within our view. We entered anyway and were greeted immediately by Lauren, the hostess. As we were, at the time, the only customers, she – in apparent need of a living advertisement – offered a table for two in the window. I proposed instead we take a table for four out of the direct sunlight: less glare, more space, and, just a bit less conspicuous. And so we did.


Lauren  – only one nose ring – was a pretty young woman, early 30’s, I’d say, and most personable. She promised a server, and, after a few moments, one turned up. Less than personable was he. He dropped menus before us and seemed annoyed we’d selected tap water over the sparkling he proffered. And we asked for lemon too! Perhaps he was peeved by having to interrupt a nap for actual customers. Perhaps the surprising sunshine was unsettling his nerves. Perhaps, a distracted scientist, he was on the verge of a discovery in quantum physics.


Perhaps, like the waiter I’d encountered that evening at First Event, having “made us” and so knowing with whom he was dealing, he became, in silent protest, a purposeful sloth. As I had an elegant companion this time, rather than dining solo, I chose not to cause any ruckus by reprimanding the young man. We did not let our lunch be spoiled by his inattention.


Lauren – instinctively? observantly? graciously? all these and other kindnesses? – came to our rescue. She asked if we’d like ice for our waters and then delivered it. Seeing the waiter had not brought condiments with the burrata, she also volunteered salt and pepper. She smiled brightly too, but then women do, don’t they?


After the fresh burrata Jennie and I each had a house signature salad: prosciutto and shaved Parmesan over a bed of arugula. Very tasty it was, but in need of a little of that black pepper we now had! By this time a young couple had taken the table for two we’d first been offered. Another pair of mature women arrived too. They chose the table for four directly behind us. An aproned, hair netted woman, surely from the kitchen, sat in the dark corner eating a personal pizza for her own lunch. The kitchen woman ate silently. The young couple, all talk of her husband, were sotto voce and did not look in our direction. The women, all talk of retirement accounts, later exchanged pleasantries with us, as, I think, they would with any other women their age and station.


After an hour or so, without comment, the waiter dropped a check next to Jennie. To me she said, “You got the last one. This is mine.” I said I’d get the tip! Jennie told me what twenty percent would be. I replied,”He’s not worth that.” I gave him a rounded sixteen percent, more generous than he deserved. Mindfully I’d calculated the amount which should send a message without also causing a scene.


By then Lauren, who’d hung our coats on arrival, returned them. To us gleefully she then announced, to the murmured assent of the women behind us, “You ladies make this a most stylish Tuesday!” I had no doubt they all meant it.


We asked if Lauren would take a photo. With Jennie’s cell phone, of course she did.


Walking back to the car, Jennie agreed with me that our whole luncheon experience, while very pleasant, would have been so much more so, if Lauren had been our assigned server and not merely the adjunct. During our meal I’d overheard her telling the women behind us, who’d wanted a glass of wine, that “Franco’s” was a BYOB establishment. She offered to call the wine shop across the street and have a bottle delivered. The women declined.


I’ll remember “Franco’s” policy and will bring my own wine when I return, whether with a friend or alone. And I will return too. For me the sweet hostess defeats the surly server and, therefore, deserves sisterly patronage.


Splendid was the day for, and Jennie did quote Sondheim, “the ladies who lunch.”




Psychic Hugs.





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