Jessie had found a nice young man named Charlie. She was bringing him down to meet her father and grandparents. She also took time to come visit us.
She arrived with Charlie and after the customary Melon Gift, we all went to dinner at a Restaurant called Buca Di Pepo.
This is a chain restaurant that serves food Family Style. It has a certain charm because the restaurant layout is broken up into separate rooms with different families sharing the room at separate tables. The rooms are named, like the Pope Room, which has a figure of the current Pope in the center of the room. People in the rooms often break out in song when one table starts singing the other tables join in. You can even eat at a table in the kitchen, just as if were at home (if your home contained a restaurant sized kitchen).
At out table were Jessie and Charlie, Barbara and I, my daughter Ronni and her family and my son Seth and his wife Patricia.
We had a nice time getting to know one another, the meal was pleasant and tasty and we were getting ready to leave.
I was just sitting there, having just paid the check, when a couple of waiters came over to me and put a candalabra down on the table in front of me.
“What’s this?” I asked.
“It’s for your birthday, we’re going to get a group of us and sing to you,” one of the waiters said.
I reluctantly told them it wasn’t my birthday, and after a quick consultation they told me they were sorry it was for the table on the other side of the room.
As they turned away, they asked if I wanted to participate in the birthday celebration.
I shyly agreed (it’s so unlike me to get involved in this type of thing), took up the candalabra and marched over to the table where the birthday boy was sitting. The waiters trailed behind.
With Candalabra held in front of me, I stood in front of the table and demanded to know who the “Birthday Boy” was. A guy about my own age reluctantly raised his hand. I demanded he stand up and led the room in singing Happy Birthday.
When it was over, I turned over the Candalabra to the waiters and started to walk out. The waiters asked if I wanted to do more Birthday Singing with them. They seemed to think I had done a good job.
I considered sticking around for a couple more, but looking over to where my family was standing in the doorway with a look of shock on their faces, I decided to decline.
I’m sure Charlie didn’t know what to think about what had just happened. However, I found out Jessie had prepped him to expect things like this when I was around.
Jessie and Charlie went for a short vacation in the Keys, and when they returned they brought me a gift. A Candalabra of my own.
A few years later, Jessie and Charlie were getting married. Barbara and I flew up to NY to attend the wedding.
We stayed with Jessie’s mother, and Jessie stayed over the night before the wedding.
That morning, the photographer was coming over to take pictures of Jessie and her mother getting ready.
Barbara had just showered and with her hair in curlers and no makeup, wearing a bathrobe, she came to the kitchen table to have breakfast while everyone was getting ready and pictures were being taken.
Someone, possibly me, had the photographer take a couple of pictures of Barbara sitting at the kitchen table. Barbara was less than enthusiastic about the pictures and threats may have been made. Keep this in mind for later.
Prior to the ceremony, Jessie and Charlie asked us to be the witnesses on the Marriage Contract, a big honor. Jessie also asked if I would say the blessing over the Challah.
I told Jessie that honor belonged to her grandfather who was present at the wedding and she should ask him first. If he didn’t want to do it, I would. She didn’t think he would want to, but agreed to ask.
He was honored and thrilled to do it. There was one problem however. He didn’t know it. Jessie asked me to teach it to him.
I sat down with him and tried to get him to learn the short prayer. Finally I wrote it down phonetically on a cocktail napkin and he managed to read it. He asked if I could stand with him and prompt him through it.
As it turned out, there was no close relative to say the prayer over the wine. A blessing said right after the blessing of the Challah. I stood with Jessie’s grandfather and helped him with the Blessing, and said the prayer over the wine to get the wedding started after the ceremony.
He was very happy.
Jessie made a beautiful bride, Charlie a handsome groom. Jessie’s mother at one point stole the show with her dancing.
All good time was had by all.
For Barbara, there was an added bonus. She came upon the photographer at the wedding. (see breakfast episode above) She asked him if he remembered her. He peered intently at her and shook his head no.
“That’s very good,” she said, “if you had, I would have killed myself”