Our friends Gary and Ted came round last night. As you know we usually play cards, gamble and have a bitch. But January’s a pretty lean month so, no poker. Instead we ate nuts and olives and drank a whole lot of wine. It felt like four friends on a double date only without the pressure for any of us to have gymnastic sex later. Hey, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.
We also got to talk about important social burning issues. Like those pictures of Daniel Radcliffe’s stomach muscles and whether they’d been digitally enhanced. Oh and, a lot of detailed discussion about whether Gary should have a back, sac, and crack wax. Let’s not go there.
“Imagine,” said Guido, “you just happen to own a small cafe. Picture it. A customer you’ve never seen before comes in and sits down in one of your booths. All he orders is a cup of hot water with a slice of lemon. Would you bill him, and if you would, how much?”
“A dilemma,” I said, “but if you remember we went to The Garrison Pub last week and I ordered a soda water and they didn’t charge me – and it had ice and a slice in it too. So I reckon this should definitely be free.”
“Yeah,” said Guido, “but if you also remember you bought me a Scotch and Coke at the same time and we got stung for almost £10. You complete dummy.”
“Of course I’d charge,” said Ted. “If he’d gone to Starbucks I reckon it would’ve been called Aqua with Lemontine and cost at least £2.50. And a real slice of lemon would’ve been extra.” Now you know why Ted is a successful banker who works on the London Stock Exchange and has a home in Pimlico.
“This guy sounds like one of my grasping passengers who expects to be served free champagne even on a short flight,” said Gary dismissively. “I mean. On a flight to the Isle of Man? I mean. On a turbo prop? Would you just get real people.”
Personally I never board an aircraft which hasn’t got a bar. So, I see nothing wrong with asking a flight attendant for free champagne, even if my knees are cramped. Hell, I’d even ask for a packet Kettle Crisps.
“What would Mother Teresa do?” I said. Everyone ignored me.
“My cafe wouldn’t be a soup kitchen, I’m thinking lots of French mirrors and an antique candelabra,” said Gary, “£2.00 is reasonable.”
“Is it snowing outside this hypothetical cafe and is this man ninety years old with leaking boots?” I asked. Everyone ignored me.
“Business is business,” said Ted opening another bottle. By the way, we never play him at Monopoly.
“You didn’t say what you’d do,” I said to Guido in bed later.
“Oh I’d have given it for free,” said Guido, “but on the way out I’d remind him that we usually always charge and could I recommend a hot latte and pumpkin pie on his next visit.” This probably explains why The Spanish Onion is always packed full of such odd people. But I was glad we were both on the same page.
I remembered my first visit to the cafe and how Guido had given me a free ciabatta. I came back for more. In fact within the week I was sleeping with him which just goes to show what I’ll do for a good chicken sandwich.
I switched out the lamp and lay there trying very hard not to think about Gary having his crack waxed. Honestly, it’s the stuff of nightmares.