"Good evening, thank you for calling--"
"Frankie playin' tonight?"
"Yes, sir, Frank is playing the--"
"ahright listen! I need a table for two in the showroom in 'bout twenty minutes--we're gonna eat early before the show. And I want a nice table, don't bullshit me! Close to the stage, but not too close!"
"Sir, I'll be happy to take your reservation for two, but--"
"Just put it down--this is Carmine." Click.
As I stare at the handset, one of our hostesses asks, "What was that all about?"
"That, apparently, was a reservation for two for 'Carmine' in about twenty minutes...in the 'showroom'."
"Yes, in the 'showroom'. And make sure he gets a table close to the stage, but not too close."
"The guy on the phone asked if Frank was playing tonight, and when I said that he was the guy directed me to make sure he got a nice able in the showroom close to the stage--he wants to eat early, you know, before the show."
"I don't know. Maybe Frank used to be in a band or something. I tried to explain to the guy how our entertainment was set up here, but he was all talking and no listening. Hold a table in the bar room for him and we'll see what happens."
The restaurant's current entertainment is a pianist who has one of those machines that provides extra orchestration for a huge number of songs. The machine allows one musician to sound like a band. He also sings. He plays four or five nights a week, and while he is located in our small bar and lounge room, his music is played thoughout the restaurant on our sound system during his sets. He's been with us for about three years, and does a very good job. He doesn't drink [many lounge musicians are huge drunks] and he constantly updates his set lists [most lounge musicians find thirty songs they like and play them ad nauseum for the rest of their lives--usually in the same order each night]. However, he plays alone, and is set up on our carpeted lounge floor. There is no "stage" and no real "show".
Approximately thirty minutes after Carmine's call, the man himself arrived--along with a companion best described as his "moll". Here was the woman keeping Estee Lauder and Frederick's of Hollywood in business.
"I'm Carmine, you got me a table in the showroom to see Frankie."
"We're all set for you, sir, but if I may, I should probably take a moment and describe our entertainment to you--"
"I said no grease. No grease the first time. If you treat me right this time I'll duke you when I come back, but no grease now--you need to impress me the first time--so there ain't no reason for you to 'explain' nothin'. Got it?"
"Show Mr. Carmine to 602, please."
Thirty seconds later, "Ay pal! I said the showroom near the stage, not a kiddie table in Siberia!"
"Well, sir. We showed you to a table in our bar room near our piano. The piano Frank will start playing in about forty minutes. We'll certainly be happy to show you to any other unoccupied table in the restaurant--we were just trying to seat you according to your request."
"What kind of supper club you people trying to run here?"
"Actually, we're trying to run a steakhouse that offers live piano music a few nights a week in addition to a number of other amenities. We've been trying to do it nearly every night for the last fifteen years.
Sir, are you sure you have the right restaurant?"
"If you've got Frankie playin', I've got the right place--I just wasn't expectin' such a crazy set-up. Ahright, the 'bar room' it is."
Carmine and his lovely guest returned to their table in the bar and ordered quickly, probably not wanting the food to interfere with the 'show'. They were halfway through their meals when our musician arrived and began setting up for the evening.
While I didn't see it transpire, apparently Carmine hopped up and approached Frank as soon as he saw him. What I did see was Carmine and his "special lady" making a bee-line for the front door, doggie bags in hand, about five minutes afterward.
"Not staying for the show?" [I couldn't help myself]
"You got me! You really got me! All I can say is you got me! That's not Frankie Jacuzzi!!"
"You never gave a last name when you were asking on the phone, sir. I tried to stop you on the phone and I also tried to explain before you were sat--I didn't think you were in the right place."
"Whatever you say, hotshot. You got me, that's all. You got me."
"Sir, with all due respect--you called us."
Shaking his head in disgust, Carmine exited the building positive that I was revelling in my betrayal of his sacred trust.
"What was that guy's problem?" Frank asked, coming up behind me at the desk.
"He thought you were some guy named Frankie Jacuzzi."
"Seriously? That guy died like eight years ago."
"Well, thats not too bad. He outlived supper clubs by about thirty years."