I stood awkwardly next to one of my tables. The restaurant was peaceful until a few moments ago. The air surrounding the couple was thick with tension from the moment they arrived. When the hostess seated them, neither had bothered to look at one another. Instead, the husband focused straight ahead as she let him to the table, and the wife examined the room. There wasn’t much to see. The tables had thick white tablecloths, the chairs were standard high back dining chairs, and the centerpieces were roses in full bloom. It was the one thing the restaurant cheated on. Though the roses looked real, they were high-quality faux flowers. The staff soaked them every night to both clean them and allow them to soak up rose oil.
I could tell they wanted to say things to each other. They didn’t stand out in this place. The low lighting classy atmosphere of the restaurant matched the wife’s fitted creme-colored dress and matching heels. Her husband, wearing a black suit, had his cuffs rolled up and tie loose. He looked tired yet alert like he was ready to take on anything. But the way the wife sat rigid in her chair as she read over the menu and how the husband angled himself as far from the table as the chair allowed showed the tension between them. They weren’t angry, but they were ready to fight.
When they ordered a bottle of red wine, I prayed it would settle them both down. I’ve never been more wrong in my entire life.
“I’ll find someone else.” The wife said. Her eyes darkened as she glared at him. Her grip on the fork and knife she had been cutting the meat with tightened. Sweat beaded on my neck, but then she slammed her utensils down on the table. I released the breath I held in a soft sigh of relief. The last thing I needed was for her to stab him.
Complaints rolled in from the other customers every time the angry couple raised their voices. That’s why I stood there close to the offending patrons, but I had no idea what to do if things got out of hand. In the two years I’d worked here, this was a first.
“Good riddance. You won’t see me complaining,” the husband swirled the wine in his glass. He took a sip and smirked. “I can have the divorce papers sent tomorrow if you’re so hell-bent on this ridiculous idea.”
“Ridiculous idea?” She screeched.
I jumped in response to her raised tone. This was what the customers were complaining about.
“I want a family! Why is that so hard to understand? You don’t have to do anything but fuck me a few times!”
I regretted giving them the second bottle of wine. My coworker passed me. I caught her eye and gave a helpless look that pleaded with her to lend a hand. She struggled to hold back a laugh, most likely at my expense, as she trotted to the manager’s office and left me alone to deal with the feuding couple.
“I’m in the middle of expanding my business!” The man snarled. “I don’t have time for a baby! Some of us work for a living instead of playing house all day!”
My coworker passed me. I caught her eye and gave a helpless look that pleaded with her to lend a hand.
“I do work! And if you paid any attention to me, you’d know that!”
“I-” I didn’t know what to say to calm the situation. I looked around at the other customers. Some looked amused, others looked annoyed, and a couple looked at me with pity. What could I say to defuse the situation? How did one tell someone else they were being too loud without getting yelled at themselves?
The wife looked over at me. “Would you give me a baby?”
Dear god, this is not happening right now.
“Don’t be stupid! He’s just a boy.”
“I’m not stupid! And to work here, he has to be at least 21, you daft asshole!”
“I’m sorry, but-” My voice didn’t make either of them look my way.
“This is the type of behavior that I can’t stand. Why would I want a baby when you act like a child already?” The man sneered.
Ouch! Dude, that’s harsh. “You’re both being ridiculous.”
Their heads snapped in my direction. My eyes widened in horror as realization dawned. I said that out loud! Oh my god!
A woman spat out her drink at the next table and covered her mouth to hide her giggle. We made eye contact, and I swear she started laughing harder.
“Excuse me?” the man said.
“What did you just say to us?” his wife asked.
Taking a deep breath, I decided what the hell. I was probably already getting fired anyhow. “I said, you’re both being ridiculous. Sorry to be blunt, but you’re disturbing the atmosphere in the restaurant. This conversation should be a private one.”
The husband stared at me with fury. His nostrils flared in anger like a bull. It was almost comical. “I’m sure we all understand that expanding a business would make it difficult to handle a baby, but neglecting your wife is not the answer, either.”
Next, I turned to the wife. “You’re acting like you’re having a tantrum, not that it excuses how he’s treating you. But if you’re lonely, tell him or find some hobbies you can do while he’s at work. Airing your dirty laundry in a respectable establishment is not the place to solve your issues. All you’re doing is embarrassing yourselves.”
You could hear a pin drop in the room as every person in the restaurant locked their eyes on me. The wife’s mouth hung open, and the husband looked like his face would explode if it got any redder.
But then someone clapped, and within seconds everyone around us applauded.
The husband looked upset as he surveyed the room, and the wife at least looked sheepish as she looked down and fiddled with her phone.
That was when my manager came out. “What seems to be the issue?” He looked around the room at the customers as they ended their applause. My manager raised a questioning eyebrow at me.
“There’s no problem,” the wife said before I could answer. “We were being rude. Please accept my apology.” She looked sheepish when she whispered, “It won’t happen again.”
“Now wait just a-”
“You heard me, Bill,” the wife snapped, cutting him off. “We’ll finish this conversation at home, we’re in the wrong, and it won’t happen again.”
I quietly let out a breath of relief when he didn’t push the point. He grumbled incoherently, but I was sure he cursed either his wife or me out; hell, probably both of us.
“Well then, get back to work, you two.” My manager didn’t ask for any more information as he walked back to his office.
My coworker grabbed my wrist and dragged me to the back. Most likely so she could get all the ‘juicy details’ as she usually put things.
I, for one, was happy to be single now, and I shuddered thinking about the drama relationships brought.