In a sea of Cajun Cuisine and World Class restaurants of New Orleans sits a little eatery that has become one of my favorite off the beaten path places. Decorated in blue and white of the Greek Isles with a delightful Paris style sidewalk cafe out front for when weather permits. Run by an amazing little man who, like myself, has never completely lost all his accent, and when I visit makes a point to come to my table and respectfully kiss my hand in the camaraderie of the old country. And always the flirt tells me "Oh, if I was only 30 years younger."
I had dinner with an old acquaintance there yesterday. While we dined, a couple came in and were seated just behind and slightly to the side of my dinner partner. They had Mardi Gras tourist written all over them. From what little I overheard of their conversation while we ate, they sounded somewhat like I hear when I have occasion to speak to someone at NPR, New Englander sounding. The woman's mannerism didn't suggest to me at all any Class and Distinction, more like Liberal Elitist Snobbery. You know the type. The ones who do things like order water with three ice cubes and shit like that?
During our after dinner coffee we spent a pleasant few minutes with the owner at our table and he then turned to the tourist and greeted them for some small talk. As we prepared to leave, I heard the woman tourist asked the owner if he was a Greek? He said as he slowly picked up the dinner bill from their table, "I'm an American." And as he folded their bill and stuck it into his shirt pocket, he added, "A Proud American". He then thanked them and said he hoped to see them again and turned and walked away. I watched the woman's reaction to his words.......it confirmed my intial impression of her.
It was as if he had plunged a dagger into her chest. Every bit of expression disappeared from her face, not in shock of his comping what was not an inexpensive meal, but that he was so adamant about being a 'Proud American' in this day and age. She silently mouthed "proud?" to her partner who's back was to me but looked as if he slightly nodded in approval of her disgust.
I so wanted to say something to them both. I have an enormus backlog of cuss words built up. But my Better Angels had one hand over my mouth, and another was tugging at my arm in the direction of the exit. But believe me, My Heart Was Singing.......