|Tara, Janelia and Barry Simpson|
Most of the people in the group must have heard my retort, because, as if on que, the entire room went silent. The spitfire and I looked deep into each other’s eyes. After a moment, a great grin spread across her wrinkled face and she let out a gleeful cackle. "Well then, get after it my boy", she said with a toothy smile. The tension in the room dissipated in an instant, and everyone began to recount the story to those who had only heard a portion of our interaction. Laughter filled the room, and I turned to walk into the kitchen to fetch the tea and table wedges, thinking to myself, "That could have gone very wrong! Here I am picking a fight with a little old lady. This is going to look great on Trip Advisor." Gathering up my tea service, I took a deep breath and headed back into the crowd. Granny was still in a good humor and obviously waiting for an opportunity to even the score. I laid-out her tea then looked beneath the table to correct the imbalance.
Because of the foursome's abundance of Bermuda shorts, chubby legs and knobby knees, it was hard to see just where the correction needed to be made. I dropped the wedge to the floor and tried pushing it into position with my toe. Having missed the mark several times, the ladies began giving me a hard time about my failed attempts. "It looks as if you are going to have to go 'down under'," said Granny with a crooked smile. Looking into their encouraging faces, then under the table with its abundance of bulky legs and bony knees, I knew that was one place I did not want to be. Groaning inwardly, however, I bent to the task. The women above me began giggling like schoolgirls, and started bouncing their knees in excitement. My head felt like a volleyball stuck between strikes at the top of the net. I was trying to keep my Twin Rocks Cafe T-shirt from riding up my backside and my jeans from slipping off my bottom-side with one hand and attempting to place the wedge with the other. I heard one of the bouncing broads say, "Ooh, I love a man on his knees!" Everyone within earshot busted-up laughing at my obviously uncomfortable position, and I am certain every part of me turned a bright red.
Feeling an emotional trauma coming on, I hurriedly slipped the wedge into place and escaped from "down under". As I walked by another table, one of the ladies called out in a brisk British accent, "Our table is rocking as well, can you fix it?" More laughter. Our catering manager, Tara, saw my distress, grabbed an over-large wedge and slapped it into my hand like a baton at a track relay. I dropped the wedge to the floor and booted it into place with a smooth, even motion. An "Ooh" emanated about the room as the group displayed their dismay at being denied another show at my expense. British humor, you gotta hate it! The remainder of the meal was only slightly interrupted with jibes and catcalls. But for that, all went well. As the old guys and gals departed, I received hugs all round, and a kiss on the cheek from Granny Spitfire. The tour director thanked me profusely for the entertainment, saying I had made her life easier and caused the group to relax. Hopefully they would enjoy the rest of the ride. "Happy to help", I replied reddening once again. I am not certain I will ever recover from playing the clown, but my therapist informs me that telling the tale and admitting embarrassment is where true healing begins.
With warm regards;
Barry, Steve, Priscilla and Danny; the team.