Table for Two
He sits by himself
at a table for two. The uniformed waiter returns to his side and asks, “Would
you like to go ahead and order, sir?” The man has, after all, been waiting
since seven o’clock—almost half an hour.
“No, thank you,”
the man smiles. I’ll wait for her a while longer. How about some more coffee?”
The man sits, his
clear blue eyes gazing straight through the flowered centerpiece. He fingers
his napkins, allowing the sounds of light chatter, tinkling silverware, and
mellow music, to fill his mind. He is dressed in a sport coat and tie. His dark
brown hair is neatly combed, but one stray lock insists on dropping to his
forehead. The scent of his cologne adds to his clean-cut image. He is dressed
up enough to make a companion feel important, respected, and loved. Yet he is
not so formal to make one feel uncomfortable. It seems that he has taken every
precaution to make others feel at ease with him. Still, he sits alone.
The waiter returns
to fill the man’s coffee cup. “Is there anything I can get for you, sir?”
“No, thank you.”
The waiter remains
standing at the table. Something tugs at his curiosity. “I don’t mean to pry,
but…” His voice trails off. This line of conversation could jeopardize his tip.
“Go ahead,” the
man encourages. His voice is strong, yet sensitive and inviting.
“Why do you bother
waiting for her?” the waiter finally blurts out. This man has been at the
restaurant other evenings, always patiently alone.
Says the man
quietly, “Because she needs me.”
“Are you sure?”
“Well, sir, no
offense, but assuming that she needs you, she sure isn’t acting much like it.
She’d stood you up three times just this week.”
The man winces,
and looks down at the table. “Yes, I know.”
“Then why do you
still come here and wait?”
“She said that she
would be here.”
“She’d said that
before,” the waiter protests. “I wouldn’t put up with it. Why do you?”
Now the man looks
up, smiles at the waiter, and says simply, “Because I love her.”
The waiter walks
away, wondering how one could love a girl who stands him up three times a week.
The man must be crazy, he decides. Across the room, he turns to look at the man
again. The man slowly pours cream into his coffee. He twirls his spoon between
his fingers a few times before stirring sweetener into his cup. After staring
for a moment into the liquid, the man brings the cup to his mouth and
sips—silently watching those around him. He doesn’t look crazy, the waiter
admits. Maybe the girl has qualities that I don’t know about. Or maybe the
man’s love is stronger than most. The waiter shakes himself out of his musings
to take an order for a party of five.
The man watches
the waiter, wonders if he’s ever been stood up. The man has; many times. But he
still can’t get used to it. Each time, it hurts. He’d look forward to this
evening all day. He has many things, exciting things to tell her. But more
importantly, he wants to hear her voice. He wants her to tell him all about her
day, her triumphs, her defeats…anything, really. He has tried so many times to
show her how much he loves her. He’d just like to know that she cares for him,
too. He sips sporadically at the coffee, and loses himself in thought—knowing
that she is late but still hoping that she will arrive.
The clock says
nine-thirty when the waiter returns to the man’s table. “Is there anything else
I can get you?”
chair stabs at the man. “No, I think that will be all for tonight. May I have
the check please?”
When the waiter
leaves, the man picks up the check. He pulls out his wallet and signs. He has
enough money to have given her a feast. But he takes out only enough to pay for
his five cups of coffee and the tip. Why
do you do this? His mind cries as he
gets up from the table.
waiter says, as the man walks toward the door.
“Good night. Thank
you for your service.”
sir,” says the waiter softly, for he sees the hurt in the man’s eyes that his
smile doesn’t hide.
The man passes a
laughing young couple on his way out, and his eyes glistens as he thinks of the
good time he and she could have had. He stops at the front and makes
reservations for tomorrow. Maybe she will make it, he thinks.
tomorrow for party of two?” the hostess confirms.
the man replies.
“Do you think
she’ll come?” asks the hostess. She doesn’t mean to be rude, but she has
watched the man many times alone at his table for two.
“Someday, yes. And
I will be waiting for her.” The man buttons his overcoat and walks out of the
restaurant, alone. His shoulders are hunched, but through the windows the
hostess can only guess whether they are hunched against the wind or against the
As the man turns
toward home, she turns into bed. She is tired after an evening out with
friends. As she reaches toward her night stand to set the alarm, she sees the
note that she scribbled to herself last night. “7:00 p.m.,” it says. “Spend
some time in prayer.” Darn, she thinks. She forgot again. She feels a twinge of
guilt, but quickly pushes it aside. She needed that time with her friends. And
now she needs her sleep. She can pray tomorrow night.
Jesus will forgive
her…He doesn’t mind, right?