By the time the check came we were already gently in pain, full of yummy food and stuffing ourselves further with the last few mouthfuls of tiramisu. Beth had warned us that Mitch would want to pick up the tab, even though it was his birthday. In referring to my sisters and me, he uses the term 'girls' instead of 'guys' as in, "are you girls heading home now?" And he always holds the door and probably would take your coat and open the car door for you. Beth had accepted Mitch's gentlemanly behaviors a long time ago. Em and I, though, were not pleased with the idea of him paying for everything on HIS BIRTHDAY.
The waitress laid down the bill, a piece of paper, just as I was about to consume my last mouthful of the heavenly, lightly-sweetened, espresso-drenched confection. I paused. If I grabbed it now, I could easily pick up the tab. But that bite of tiramisu was hovering on my spoon, just inches from my mouth. I hesitated one second too long and Mitch took the bill and got out his wallet.
"Mitch, it's your birthday. We'll pay," I protested, reaching across the table for the check.
He held it out of my reach "No you will not."
"Come onnnn," I said. Beth laughed and pointed out that this is the argument I always use on her which never works. Not helping, Beth. I grabbed for the bill once more, caught it. But Mitch was holding too tightly. It ripped in half.
In shock, I placed my half of the bill on the table and sank into my chair a little bit. At this moment, the waitress returned. She picked up our friend's credit card and the two pieces of the check, looked at me, looked at Mitch and said, in her deep smoker's voice, "UH-oh," before disappearing off behind the bar. The four of us looked at each other for a moment and burst out laughing. It was too much. That one simple interjection: UH-oh, first syllable heavily emphasized, the clipped 'oh' pronounced at a much lower pitch. That tone, as though she KNEW what had happened, even though she hadn't witnessed it.
... or had she? UH-oh, we kept repeating under our breaths to each other, snickering, trying not to disrupt the other guests too much. UH-oh. When our server returned, the paper was taped back together. Taped together. UH-oh. We could barely contain ourselves and we stumbled out into the March evening.
(I know, I know tiramisu is technically dessert, but it was a birthday, and I guess I've decided to exclude birthdays and funerals from my Lenten fast)