American Rebecca Bricker is the author of 'Tales from Tavanti: An American Woman's Mid-Life Adventure in Italy,' the funny, poignant, romantic story of her year in Florence, after her only child left for college. For more about the book and Rebecca's travels, visit her website and blog: www.rebeccabricker.com
The best table was mine ...
"My name is Giacomo," he said. He handed me the wine list, his eyes twinkling.
It was the beginning of a lovely slow-dance-of-a-meal at a charming trattoria on a quiet side street in Rome. I had asked the front-desk manager at my hotel to a make a dinner reservation for me. And this was the place he chose.
Giacomo, who had lived in Ireland and England for a while, spoke beautiful English. "I forgot a lot," he said apologetically. "All I talk about now is spaghetti." That made me laugh.
When I arrived, Giacomo didn't seat me at a table in the corner behind a potted plant or in front of a constantly swinging kitchen door or worse, by a smelly bathroom. I was his first guest of the evening and he was expecting me. The best table was mine.
Very romantic ...
Later on, when a group of Canadian women sat down nearby, Giacomo introduced me to them. "My friend Rebecca," he said. They thought I was a regular and asked what wine I'd recommend. I smiled at Giacomo. "You should ask the best waiter in Rome."
At my request, Giacomo had taken charge of the preparation of my pasta-to-be-determined carbonara. The pasta choices were dizzying, so I said to him, "You choose. I trust you ... totally." Giacomo smiled and refilled my wine glass.
Moments later, he returned with a plate of delicately fried zucchini blossoms. "With my compliments," he said.
He waited as I took a bite. "This is the best flower I've ever eaten," I said.
"That's because it's from me." He smiled. "Very romantic."
Dinner served by Giacomo began with flourish and flirtation and ended with his assurance, "You will be back. This is not good-bye."
I've dined alone many nights...
In my solo travels, I have dined alone many nights. Or at least I start out dining alone. If the tables are close together, sometimes I end up chatting with the people next to me, though I'm careful not to intrude. One evening in a crowded village restaurant in Provence, a local couple at the next table offered me a glass of wine. By the end of the evening, we were like old friends. A few nights later, I was dining at their house.
I always have my journal with me and enjoy jotting at the table. One night at a Paris bistro, I decided to write on the paper tablecloth. The waiters were concerned about covering up my work, so to their amusement, I drew circles where the plates and glasses should go. I was experiencing such a rush of inspiration that at one point shortly after the appetizer was served, I heard the head waiter shout to the chef, "Arrétez! Madame écrit!" (Stop! Madame is writing!) The main course arrived just as I laid down my pen.
I returned to that bistro every night of my visit. I had the same table by the front window, with a view of a gallery across the street where a Chagall was on display. On my last night, when I said good-bye, the waiters were genuinely sad to see me leave.
I had a similar experience in Nice, where I found a wonderful Mexican restaurant a block from my hotel. By now you know how much I love margaritas, which didn't escape the attention of the owner. On my second visit, before I had a chance to order, he served me a margarita, lightly salted. "The way you like it," he said with a smile. I became a regular. On my last night, instead of giving me the usual complimentary after-dinner shot of tequila, he put the whole bottle in front of me. I have fond memories of that cantina on the Riviera and the stories my waiter told me of his father, a famous Mexican poet.
Sometimes you have the most fun at a table for one.
Women's words on flirtation...
Flirtation is merely an expression of considered desire coupled with an admission of its impractibility.
(Marya Mannes, 1964)
Flirtation is a graceful salute to sex, a small impermanent spark between one human being and another, between a man and a woman not in need of fire.
(Marya Mannes, 1964)
Flirtation envies Love and.. Love envies Flirtation.
(Carolyn Wells 1904)