Eggs and Tea for Two – Pandora
Eggs and Tea for Two
“Eggs, Madam,” The waiter said curtly as he placed a plate of two boiled eggs in eggcups in front of the woman. I noticed she was smartly dressed for the cool weather and had a nice handbag sitting next to her. One strange thing was that she wore sunglasses despite being inside the hotel restaurant.
The waiter put the plate down with a small clink on the marble tabletop. The woman peered at the eggs from above her dark glasses and softly began to weep.
I quickly lifted my newspaper to block my view of the scene unfolding in the banquette opposite my table. But the sound of her weeping pierced my paper shield.
You know that New York feeling that when you turn a corner anything can happen? I studiously avoid that.
Whenever coming to the city I always stay at a small boutique hotel downtown. The hotel lacks the flash and “bling” of many uptown grand scale hotels (no Trump water on the nightstands here, rather glass bottles of imported Italian still), but it also refrains from the clubby atmosphere of throbbing music that permeates so many now “hip” downtown hotels. The place, as I prefer it, is understated and elegant, albeit an elegance of frayed sofas and moth eaten drapes. It isn’t fancy, per se, but it offers a level of discretion and privacy I appreciate (and which many celebrities value as well). Even the paparazzi are somewhat discrete, parking their camera bags and long lenses on a wooden bench obscured by a small planter of sculpted box wood shrubs. The twinkling vintage hanging lights strung over the door make one feel they were entering a small pensione, somehow transplanted from Europe to lower Manhattan. An old Otis elevator rattles up to the small rooms. Upstairs, sounds are muffled by the faded red carpets than line the narrow halls. From the elevator I overheard one disappointed hotel guest remark, as she peered down the dimly lit hall that, “This would be an ideal location to film an American Horror Story episode.”
For breakfast I descended to the hotel restaurant where I took my morning tea and read the paper. The quiet room generally served as a good place to start my day before going uptown to meet with the trustees of my family’s foundation. But today the softly sobbing woman broke the silence. I heard the waiter muttering apologies and scurry away. I had just poured a fresh cup of tea from the teapot when the crying began and I was desperately trying to figure out how to get a sip of still hot tea without lowering my newspaper, which I gripped, tightly, with two hands. Stretching down to drink directly from the cup I was able to get a good sip, but the top half of the newspaper folded down over my head making a tent for me and my cup of tea.
I heard a sniffle, then a sort of chortle coming from the woman. I quickly sat up and snapped the paper back upright. But of course the bottom half of the newspaper caught on the lip of my teacup, and in an instant the practically boiling hot tea spilled onto my lap. My wool trousers worked as a sponge to the hot liquid. The searing pain in my groin area caused me to bolt upright from where I sat. In my hurry to get up I knocked into my table which seemed to teeter for a moment before toppling over, spilling tea, breaking china and send silverware clattering across the tile floor of the restaurant.
In the awkward silence that followed, I looked over to the woman who sat staring speechlessly at me. Just then, the waiter returned, with two more eggs in eggcups and briskly set them in front of the woman with nary a glance at me nor the disaster I’d made of his dining room.
“Eggs, Madame,” he said politely.
She looked at the eggs then back to me and began laughing hysterically.
And that is how I met my wife.