My parents took me, Meelyn and Aisling to the Olive Garden yesterday for lunch, which was just very, very nice. We all know that the food would not be recognizably Italian to a native of that country, but who cares when somebody else cooks it, serves it and cleans it up afterward? Plus, it's yummy and they put as much grated Parmesan as you'd care to eat on your salad.
We always want a lot, stopping just short of the server's developing carpal tunnel syndrome.
I had grilled chicken and gnocchi in creamy Parmesan-ricotta sauce and Aisling, who was sitting beside me, had chicken parmegiana. I can't remember what anyone else had because it all passed in a blur of breadsticks.
Just as we were finishing, a crowd of five city police officers came in and were seated beside us. They all seemed like very pleasant people, courteously giving their drink orders to the server and then talking quietly among themselves about what was best to eat. Mom, Poppy, the girls and I got up to put on our coats, nodding hello to them and smiling as we left the dining room. Poppy, who is always a gentleman, stood aside to let all the ladies pass and then followed me out to the restaurant's entryway.
Only when we got there, he wasn't behind me. I looked over my shoulder and saw him coming down the hallway from the dining room with his wallet in his hand.
"What were you doing? Did you drop your wallet or something?" I asked him as he opened the door for me.
"No, I was talking to those police officers," he said, tucking his wallet into his jacket's inner pocket.
A sudden thought came to me. "Did you pay for their lunch?" I asked fondly.
"Yes. And I told them, 'If you're ever in New Castle and you see me speeding, please don't arrest me," he joked.
Lovely Poppy, what a generous man he is.
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