...Brought to you by the Cafe Boeuf----

TK (ON PHONE): Bon soir, Cafe Boeuf. Maurice speaking. (LITTLE GIBBERISH) How may I help you?

GK: Maurice, it's Carson Wyler, I'd like to make a reservation for two for dinner tonight at seven?

TK (ON PHONE): Wyler --- yes, yes, certainly. (MUTTERING TO HIMSELF) How many, Mr. Wyler?

GK: Two for dinner.

TK: Very well. How about a seat up front, near the front door?

GK: No, please. Not up front. Please. In the back. Not by the front door.

TK: It is very convenient, next to the coat check.

GK: Please. Don't do this to me. Not by the front door. Okay?

TK (ON PHONE): And you are coming to dinner with---- who, monsieur?

GK: My wife.

TK (ON PHONE): Not some software salesman from Omaha in a green plaid jacket, eh?

GK: No, it's with my wife. Please.

TK: Very good, monsieur. The same woman who was with you----

GK: Yes, the same woman who was with me last Saturday night.

TK (ON PHONE); Excellent. A lovely woman. Very (FRENCH GIBBERISH).

GK: Thank you. I think. So do you have a table for tonight?

TK (ON PHONE); Would you mind if I ask a personal question, monsieur?

GK: What is that?

TK (ON PHONE): Last week, I could not help but notice. Your hair, monsieur. It looked very ---- not right. A bad day, perhaps? Non?

GK: It's fine now. Trust me.

TK (ON PHONE); It looked like you had just gotten out of bed----

GK: It's fine now.

TK (ON PHONE): You're sure---- and your cologne last week ---- did you happen to pick up a spray can of air freshener by mistake, eh? One used by truck drivers perhaps?

GK: I was trying out a new deodorant. I'm going back to my old one.

TK (ON PHONE); Very well. And I noticed last week that when you tasted the wine you turned and said to the lady, "Boy, that's a humdinger of a Chardonnay----" non?

GK: No, no.

TK (OH PHONE): Non? You didn't say, "Boy, that's a doozie"? eh?

GK: No----

TK (ON PHONE): This is a French restaurant.

GK: I understand.

TK (ON PHONE); In a French restaurant, we do not use the word humdinger to describe a wine.

GK: Of course.

TK (ON PHONE): We talk about wine as if it were a beautiful woman.

GK: Give me another chance.

TK (ON PHONE); And when the waiter asks if you'd like fresh ground pepper, you don't say, "okey-dokey, you're the doctor"---- eh?

GK: Fine. Good. I won't.

TK (ON PHONE); So why don't we give you a table up front so I can keep an eye on you?

GK: Please not the front.

TK (ON PHONE): You'll be right next to the men's room.

GK: Please don't. Tell me what you want me to do.

TK (ON PHONE): What's wrong with up front?

GK: No. Please. Tell me what you want me to do.

TK (ON PHONE): How about a table up front at ten-thirty?

GK: Please. Tell me what you want me to do.

TK (ON PHONE): Could you try to be a little more fatalistic.....sardonic.....more irony.

GK: Irony. Right.

TK (ON PHONE): You look at the world through a cloud of tobacco smoke---- showing a heroic impassivity to the turns of fate....

GK: Smoke. Right. And impassivity.

TK (ON PHONE): And when someone speaks to you, you fix them with a dark look and then you laugh a bitter sardonic laugh, the laugh of experience.

GK: Sardonic laugh. Gotcha.

TK (ON PHONE): Let me hear your sardonic laugh.


TK (ON PHONE): A table in front. Ten thirty.


TK: Like this. HE LAUGHS.


TK: A table towards the middle. Seven thirty.

GK: It is immaterial to me what you think of me, Maurice. You don't know me and you never will. There are things I could tell you, but---- why bother? HE LAUGHS. I don't believe that anyone can ever know anyone else. Not really. We're alone in this world. I know that I am. Goodbye.

TK: Okay, a table in the rear. Seven o'clock.

GK: I don't care. I may come. I may not. HE LAUGHS

TK: The Cafe Boeuf....you have to work at it, but you can usually get in if you try. Bon soir, mon ami. Bon soir, Annique. (GIBBERISH) (PLAYOFF)

© 1997 by Garrison Keillor