Tuesday 22 February 2022

Strangers in the night


I left the office at about 7:30 in the evening not intending to go home but to go to a newly opened very upper-class restaurant. I was to meet Miss Helen Wooden-Peck a plastic surgeon specialising mainly in nose reconfigurations as she called them. Our company was hoping to win a contract and be her publicity and marketing agents.

When I got to the restaurant, the maître d'or greeted me at the door and said, "Good evening, I am Gustav Armoire, may I take your coat Monsieur?"

"No," I replied, "get yourself your own coat!"

"You do not understand, Monsieur," he explained, "I weel only take it for zee safekeeping!"

I declined and he led me to a table where a young lady was sitting. Helen Wooden-Peck had obviously arrived before me. 

I sat down and offered to get some drinks to start with. A man sidled to our table and said, "Good evening Madame et Monsieur. I am Pierre Pied-à-Terre your sommelier zis evening."

"Sommelier?" I asked, "this is a wooden shoe isn't it?"

"No," said the young lady hiding a smile of derision, "that is a sabot!"

"What is?" I asked her.

"A wooden shoe is called a sabot," she explained, "a sommelier is a wine waiter".

Well, that was hardly a good start was it, showing her that I was ignorant and did not know a sabot from a sommelier. So to recover from my faux-pas, (this is a French phrase meaning wrong father, not to be confused with pas-de-deux which means father of twins).

Anyway, to recover from my mistake I suggested she chose the wine; which she did and decided on Château Expensive.

I tried to steer the conversation away from plastic surgery per se and tried to get an idea on how she would like her business advertised and who she considered as her main clientèle.

"Oh ... it is builders mainly," she said, "builders, building contractors, roadworks engineers, that sort of people."

I was about to ask why specifically these people. Are they particularly susceptible to requiring plastic surgery to their faces? Did they perhaps fall over more than any other profession? And are there enough of them to warrant her having a successful business? 

Before I said a word I was interrupted by another man at our table who said, "Good evening. I am Marcel Petit-Pois your personal advisor zis evening. The Maître Chef today is Renard Mangetout assisted by Madelaine Bonne-Appetit. May I suggest your repas?"

"Great," I thought. "This is a novel idea. They have someone suggesting what you'll eat. No doubt he'll pick the most expensive things on the menu!"

Yet again, before I could speak, she interrupted and said, "What a good idea. Surprise me with something typically French!"

"I suggest you start with poussins roti" he said.

I did not know what that was and imagined some sort of rat based dish; like ratatouille. Isn't roti rat in French? Anyway, as per usual she took the lead and agreed and the waiter left for the kitchen.

I picked up the conversation where it left off and asked why in particular those trades people would be her clients.

"They much prefer the mix-concrete that we use," she said, "we are leading suppliers of all sorts of cements and different types of sands. Did you know that there's different sands to suit various projects?"

I nodded politely and said nothing. I did not want to display another set of ignorance to someone who could well award us a major advertising contract. I pretended to understand and wondered how sand and cement fitted in plastic surgery.

She continued to explain about the different kinds of sands and cement as the waiter returned with the poussins roti, which turned out to be little chickens covered with sauce, and not rats as I had imagined.

At that point her cell-phone rang. She excused herself and walked away from the table for a few moments.

I prodded the little chicken on my plate with my fork to see how difficult it would be to carve without making a mess. Especially since it was covered in some brown sauce of some kind.

Unfortunately, my prod was somewhat a little enthusiastic because the damned chicken slid off my plate and flew to the ground some feet away. As bad luck would have it, at that precise moment another waiter passed by carrying some plates and his foot got wedged into the backside opening of the chicken. He walked away towards the kitchen taking with him the chicken stuck to his shoe.

Before I could say anything, the young lady returned to see my plate totally empty as if I had devoured the whole chicken bones and all in a matter of two minutes or so.

She was too much a lady to say anything and sat down daintily attempting to eat her poussin. I must admit, she was very adept at it, and did not even wet her lips with the sauce as she ate.

"Good news," she said, "we just had delivery of twenty tons of high quality cement. That should last us at least a week!"

"Twenty tons of cement in a week?" I thought, "who is she doing a nose job for?  Cyrano de Bergerac?"

I nodded and smiled and said nothing. I was told years ago that the best thing to do when having a meal with a woman is to let her talk, ask questions and look interested. No woman ever said, "What a date that was! All I did is talk about myself!"   

Anyway, the meal continued with me learning a lot about sands and cements.

As we left I suggested, "Perhaps it would be a good idea if you were to visit our offices and meet my boss, Miss Wooden-Peck!"

"Wooden-Peck?" she said, "why did you call me Wooden-Peck?"

"That's ... that's your name," I mumbled.

"I am Taurpaulin MacAdam!" she said, "who is Wooden-Peck?"

I did not answer her and went in the restaurant searching for my missing nose plastic surgeon. She was nowhere to be found. I could not sniff her out from a plate of snails in garlic sauce.

The next morning my boss informed me that I had gone to the wrong restaurant and we nearly lost the advertising contract with Helen Wooden-Peck. Luckily she was very understanding at my standing her out and agreed to go out for a meal with my boss instead.

My colleagues suggested I cement good customer relations with our existing clients instead!


  1. ...WOW, strangers in the night, now that would be a GREAT tile for a song!

    1. Good idea, Tom. It would need a great singer to record it ... I wonder ... Sinatra maybe.

      God bless.

  2. Oh! Tom! You took that gag away from me...! :).

    HeHe! This was a brilliant read, l'll send it
    on to a few friends who will love it..if that's

    And..it's a good thing you did'nt go to an Italian,
    or even Sicilian restaurant..cheap cement in Sicily!
    I'll say no more..! :).

    Oh! And by the way..I'm half way through 'Feline
    Catastrophes' went l finish it, l'll go back and
    read it again..Love it! :)
    And..I was pleased to read that Churchill was'nt
    wasted, not being buried in the box..I expect
    your cat was very 'fluttered' to consume said
    budgerigar...Oh! and on a wing and a prayer! :).

  3. I'm so glad you're enjoying my book, Willie. And please do share this post with your friends. You are so kind to me.

    It's good to laugh. Great medicine they say.

    God bless always.

    1. Yes! They say...Laughter decreases stress
      hormones and increases immune cells and
      infection-fighting antibodies, thus
      improving your resistance to disease..!

      And..Did you know..
      It takes 43 muscles to frown..but..only
      17 muscles to smile..! True!

    2. That is true, Willie. Laughter decreases stress. When I told my doctor I was stressed he laughed at me.

      God bless.

  4. WOW, I am glad that places I dine do not have wine or menu advisors. Sherry usually does that. She ignores the wine anyway.
    Enjoyed the story, you should write the name of the Restaurant in you palm. At least you gleaned a knowledge of concrete and sand...
    Sherry & jack.. Jack being the one who loved concrete...

    1. I'm glad you liked the story, Jack ... and the concrete. That restaurant was so upper-class I did not dare to ask for ketchup. Can you have ketchup on poussin roti? Not that I tasted it!

      God bless you and Sherry.

  5. It's funny that one mistake could cause all that havoc and your employer almost losing an important client. Geez! :)

    1. I'll blame it on my secretary for sending me to the wrong restaurant.

      God bless, Bill.

  6. Too funny! I've never had the desire to dine on French haute cuisine; which this accounting underscores!

    1. I don't like the haute cuisine, or nouveau cuisine as they call it sometimes over here.

      I once took some business people to a posh restaurant in London. We were served a small plate with about two carrots cut in slices long-ways and lightly boiled with some parsley on it. I was about to put them on my plate and serve myself until I realised, (ON TIME), that the serving was for the four of us. Same with the potatoes. A plate with six tiny boiled potatoes. How do you divide 6 by 4? Our plates came with the tiniest bit of lamb and we were supposed to serve ourselves to the vegetables.

      The final cost was really eye-watering. Fortunately, I paid for it from my business account and not personally.

      God bless, Mevely.

  7. It could only happen to you. :)

    1. Yep ... but it was not my fault. My secretary sent me to the wrong restaurant.

      God bless, Happyone.

  8. Dearest Victor,
    That was quite a story and by going to the wrong restaurant, it can cause some funny encounters!
    Oh, when such little things 'fly' off the plate... it has embarrassed us all. When I was a teenager, I tried to behave my very best and when I 'tried' to get a little piece off a chocolate covered pâtisserie on my plate; it took off!
    Pieter has had something similar with peas... they proof to be very, very tricky when 'pairing' them with good manners.
    Haha, but they turn into an event that we never ever can erase from our retina!

    1. Yes Mariette, it is very embarrassing when some food slides off the plate. It is particularly bad when it is in a restaurant and one makes a mess of the clean table cloth or drops food on the floor.

      I'm glad this story made you smile. God bless you and Pieter.

  9. Oh dear! Wrong Restaurant, wrong person AND you lost your meal. Perhaps you should stay home and let others do the client finagling.

    1. I was assigned to this particular contract, River.

      God bless always.

  10. Now, that story is cemented in my brain, Victor. Very entertaining!

    1. The story may be in your brain but the poussin roti was stuck in the waiter's shoe!

      God bless, Martha.

  11. I say you had a very interesting evening, even though; there were several misunderstandings. I’ll bet the real Miss Wooden-Peck would not have taught you anything about cement sands. You can add that information to your trivia knowledge.

    1. That's true, Nells. I learnt a lot about sands and cements but very little about plastic surgery and our potential new client. What a day that was.

      God bless you.



God bless you.