Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Gentleman.

He guides her up the stairs, lightly holding her hand as she takes each step. She's in her late 80's, hooked to a respirator. The gentleman carries it for her so she can focus all of her energy on making it to the door.

She slowly lifts each foot and trudges just a few inches. While only steps from the entrance, the gentleman reaches out to pull the door wide open for her. Her puts his arm around her and gently leads her into the restaurant. What would take a few second takes her a minute; yet she looks out into the world with the most poignant, devoted eyes.

Without letting go of his lady, he smiles and says to the hostess, “Table for two, preferably somewhere close.” He lets out a wink and a chuckle as he says it. He’s tall with a loud and commanding voice; yet he holds her with the care of the kindest soul.

When they arrive at their table, he lays down her respirator and begins to unbutton her jacket. Her eyes continue to dance around the restaurant, mesmerized by the flickering candles and variety of people. He takes his time to get every button out of its loop. “There’s no need to be hasty,” he explains to the hostess with a smirk.

Once unbuttoned the gentleman begins to slide her arms out of her jacket for her. She has no strength, and is visibly exhausted from making it this far. It is an effort just to move her hands. But she still continues to smile. A contagious smile. A smile that radiates and embraces the attention of everyone in the room.

He tenderly takes off her snow cap and does the same to his own. “Alright, ready to sit down my lady?”, he asks her with a grin. He then takes both of his hands and slowly helps her into her seat. Once she is taken care of, he then begins to think of himself. He quickly unbuttons his jacket and hangs it on a nearby hanger. He walks back, pulls out his seat and plops down into to it to look over the menu. She has yet to say anything at all.

The server walks up to them and welcomes them to the restaurant. "I'll have a Manhattan on the rocks, and the pretty lady over here is going to have a cola." Once the server departs he looks over the menu deciding what would be best for her. "Are you in the mood for fish today?", he asks her. She doesn't respond. Once the server returns, the gentleman says to him, "I think the two of us are ready to order. I'm gonna have the chef's Pasta Louise," pronouncing it 'lou-wheez-ee', "...and my lady is going to have the tilapia," pronouncing it 'til-ah-puh-ta'. The server walks away and suddenly it's just the two of them.

He extends one hand out towards her. She trembles for a moment and begins to lift her fingers and move in closer to him, inch-by-inch. Her entire body shakes as she draws near to him. And once she reaches him, they then sit, staring at one another, hands interlocked across the table, reminiscing of the good old times. The server is around the corner from them and overhears the gentleman say, "My lady, we've been one heck of a couple. You're my pal." He doesn't say, 'I love you' for one simple reason--he doesn't have to.

The server later stops by the table and the gentleman pipes in, "Did you know the two of us have been in Ohio for the past 50 years? We don't look it, do we!" She looks at the server and rocks her head back and forth. "Yup, me and this pretty lady met many, many years ago in Kentucky. We've had one heck of a journey."

When their food comes, before even looking at his own he reaches across the table and begins to cut her 'til-a-puh-ta' for her. He then patiently, effortlessly, wraps his fingers around her hand and guides her fork to her mouth, all the while not giving his own plate the slightest thought. When the server comes back and asks if there is anything he could give them, the gentleman answers, "Well, another 20 years sure would be nice."

They finish their meal and leave in the same way they arrived. The gentleman supports his lady in every way that she is immobile, and he does it all with such exuberant joy. The love the two of them share is so palpable that the entire restaurant is in tears. And as they walk towards the door, each slow step at a time, it becomes clear to those who saw them that every day is a gift, and what a gift it would be to spend a lifetime with a gentleman like him.