It was another day at Caputo's: the Mexican chefs were slapping meat down at a blurring speed, the deli boys were wiping tables while whistling something that reached back from an Andy Griffith's show, customers were staring at the menu with worship-like awe - wondering how and what would be their heavenly bite.
They came in... the two of them. I'd seen these two so many times, that I call them "regulars." His name is Jon. Hers I can't remember, but that never stops their smiling nature to come out.
And it does. It always does. They seem genuinely happy to be at lunch, together. He's probably mid 50s; she is probably early 20s. I enjoy seeing them so much, that I decided to "stop" them today and express my appreciation.
"I just have to tell you two, it is so refreshing to see you come in! I really like your energy... your smiles!"
"Oh, thanks!" they say, beaming.
"Yeah," I said, "its so good to see a father and daughter enjoying time together like this. I just really think its great!"
She smiled and with deer-in-headlights-eyes said, "He's my husband."
There are times when you say something wrong in a social setting that you can recover. Its fast. Its quick. Its a nano-second that can curb an entire reservoir of explanation and embarrassment on your part. Its well crafted, but only through a snap-cracking wit, as fluid as mercury. This nano-second is precious, few, and like a grace from Heaven if utilized perfectly.
I missed it.
I just stared at her. It seemed like an hour that I stood, carp-mouthed, full-moon eyed, trying to think of someway to recover the words that slipped from my mouth.
And I ask you... how do you do that? How do you recover those milliseconds of foot-in-mouth blundering?
I said I was sorry. And then found myself digging myself out of that: "No,.. I'm not sorry you're married.." Deeper. Deeper. Six feet under.
"Oh, that's fine! We get it all the time! He just looks older. And I look younger!" eyes twinkling in some distant galaxy.
As they left to their table, I gasped for air, dropped my head, and felt my head fill with red, pounding, screaming blood.
"So, Dallas," Jan asked, "you having crow for lunch?"