by Julie Wornan
“Oh my!” she sighed as the waiter set the dish before her.
“Looks sumptuous,” her husband murmured. Red hues hovered over a bed of green leaves bubbled and expanded over the dish that was supposed to contain it, nearly brushing the white tablecloth.
But it was not a meat stew, nor a saucy pasta dish. It was a flowerpot of red begonias.
“Darling, this is wonderful! But it is so extravagant...”
“Nonsense. This is our fiftieth wedding anniversary, and I insist on celebrating it properly. What have we here?”
“Your tulips, sir.” The potted tulips were a dream to behold, a splendor of red, golden yellow, pink and mauve. Their fragrance was subtle but heavenly. The couple reached across the table and held each other’s hands, so absorbed in the symphony of colors that they were almost startled by the waiter’s voice:
“Would you like to order a side dish?”
“Yes, indeed!” The man examined the elegant hand-written menu. “I think I’ll have something simple and save my appetite for the desert. How’s the clover and primrose salad?”
“It is excellent, sir. The primroses are freshly in bloom, and we have them in all colors. And you, madame?”
“Oh... so hard to choose... Well, I have always loved sweet peas...”
“But sweet peas are so fragrant,” the man reminded his wife thoughtfully. “They will ruin your appetite for the dessert.”
“Not at all. I intend to have roses for dessert. Nothing will ruin my pleasure in roses!”
“Yes, ma’am, we have some very fragrant dessert roses. You will love them. And you, sir, would you care to try our lilacs? They have just come into season.”
“Yes, please. You can bring the side dishes and the desserts together.”
The couple smiled at each other fondly as they shifted the dishes this way and that, so that both got to inhale deeply of each fragrance and bathe their eyes in all the various color harmonies. The woman focussed her particular attention on the bowl of cut roses, pink, white and peach-colored.
“Do you remember, dear, when we were courting? You used to bring me roses!”
“Of course I remember it. You used to put them in a vase and their fragrance would fill the room. Ah, we could afford such things in those days!”
“And we used to eat out nearly every week. Sometimes in this very restaurant! It was a food restaurant then.”
“Yes... food restaurants. They were very popular. Well, people had to eat.”
“Yes... how gross. People kept their stomachs and intestines and had to chew and swallow...”
“... all sorts of things. Chunks of dead animals, roots of plants...”
“It’s a blessing we don’t have to do that anymore. Whatever you say, some things are better now.”
“Well, there’s no way the impoverished Earth could feed eighteen billion bodies and souls now. Thank heavens for modern science.”
“Yes,” she sighed again, bending a rosebud toward her. “And now that we have those gross body parts removed painlessly, they don’t act up and give us pains and cancer. But it is too bad that everything has become so costly.”
“Yes. Well, we can’t complain. We have our little home. With a window that lets in a bit of light! You’ve even put a window box in it.”
“Yes, ivy can grow there. But I miss our trips to the country.”
“When there was country. Well, we have our nature video. Shall we go home and watch it?”
“Yes, dear. I think the waiter wants the flowers for the other customers now. And I confess I’m getting hungry.”
“So am I. We’ll go home and have our intravenous fix and watch some nature. How’s that?”
“It was a wonderful anniversary, darling,” she whispered as he helped her on with her fake-fur coat.
“You are as lovely to me now as you were fifty years ago,” he replied, taking his cane and top hat from the waiter.
“You didn’t wear a top hat fifty years ago,” she winked. “I think you look far more distinguished now.”
“Yes, well, something has to distinguish us from the riff-raff. We may not be rich, but we know who we are.”
Arm in arm, tender and proud, the elderly couple walked home, deliberately oblivious to the homeless beggars that thronged the dusky streets along the way.
Copyright © 2014 by Julie Wornan