The Italian place where we had dinner the other night in Stone Harbor, NJ, was a true Italian restaurant. The real deal...pictures of Italy on the walls, poster showing all the various pastas ever made, irked-looking owner hovering over the cash register (he would be played by Dennis Farina if the need ever arose to make a movie of our week at the beach.) In fact, the place was so authentic that I went to the men's room and felt around behind the toilet, looking for a stashed rod. You know, a shooting iron, a heater, a cannon, a roscoe. A gat.
You know, I really need to stop taking the movies so seriously. They're only make-believe, after all.
The food was great, and only the lack of anchovies in the Caesar salad held me back from giving them two hearty thumbs up.
But as we were leaving, and I did my standard finished-in-the-men's-room wait by the front door (the second trip was for the usual purposes), I overheard a young female waitperson ask another to go with her to table 5 to open a bottle of wine. She had the winged corkscrew all ready to go, but then the other young lady raised her eyebrows and her hands simultaneously in the time-honored, universal "I don't know!" gesture. They both said they didn't know how to work the thing, and couldn't ask the boss because they were supposed to know how to operate a corkscrew as part of their jobs. (He did not appear to be a man who entertained such questions with equanimity.) This, even though the place has no liquor license, so what they do is supply glasses for those who bring in their own hooch.
My first reaction was to offer a brief tutorial in corkscrew operation, even though the vast majority of wine bottles I have opened in my days have been of the screw-top variety and contained Boone's Farm or Ripple of uncertain vintage. It's in my nature, for whatever it's worth, to be patient in showing people how to do things, although certain disagreement on that point might be heard from Peggy in the area of instruction in the use of a manual transmission.
But I didn't say anything. Sure, I would have, had the young ladies said, "Hey, you're pretty old, so you must know how to decant wine, carve a standing rib roast and change a flat tire, right? Show us how to do the wine bottle, wouldja?"
I briefly considered draping a white towel over my right arm and sommeliering over to table 5, a solution that died aborning, since I didn't know table 5 from the periodic table.
Then Peggy came along and of course as always, I was so swept up in her presence that we headed for the shopping district.
I still don't know what I should have done about the corkscrew lesson. Part of me says the gallant thing would have been to at least offer a quick lesson, and part of me says anything I had done along those lines would only have been perceived as pedantic and show-offy.
And part of me says to do what Dick Cheney would have done, namely, shoot someone in the face so no one would be so worried about opening their wine. Man, I wish he was only make-believe.