Recently I was at a restaurant and I was the recipient of very best pick up line I had ever heard.
It was so fantastic that I was gob smacked and flummoxed to the point of speechlessness and just sat there not replying. For me that really is something!
Unfortunately the pick up line was so out of my orbit that it didn’t actually work.
I will explain the history of the line or it will not make sense.
When I first moved to Fremantle I remember the very first time I had a real coffee (not a powdered one) and it was a cappuccino at Papa Luigi’s in South Terrace.
It was a late Sunday afternoon in the 1970’s and the streets were quiet because everyone was at the “Sesh” – this was the Sunday Session. There was time when the pubs were only open for a few hours on a Sunday afternoon so most people would go and swill down as much alcohol as they could afford or manage.
I was moving house, so my friends and I borrowed a trailer and put all of my furniture on it. We were young and not particularly experienced at the physics of momentum. So, with that said, we didn’t actually tie any of the furniture down it just sat on the top of the trailer without support.
Part of our journey required that we went around a fairly sharp bend where Papa Luigi’s coffee shop was located. As we rounded the corner ‘torque’ did its thing and my $5.00 op shop 1950’s art deco dressing table with a beautiful round mirror crashed onto the road shattering the mirror.
We stopped the car and went into Papa Luigi’s to get a broom and dust pan so that we could clean up the road.
At that time South Terrace was a fairly quiet place so you could just park where you liked and take as long as you liked. My friends and I swept up the shards of mirror and then went into Papas to give their things back.
Inside Papas was like entering another world. The air was filled with smoke to the extent that you couldn’t clearly see across the room. The small tables were filled with Italian, Yugoslav and Portuguese men sipping coffee and smoking. Most of these men were small, nuggety with toned muscles and dark hair. They held themselves upright and when they looked at you their dark brown eyes gazed at you in the way the took your breath away. They were grouped around little tables, playing cards or other games — just hanging out. The place was packed with barely a table available.
My friend Penny and I were the only two women in “Papas”. Penny’s boyfriend Paul also stood out with his youth and blond hair.
We went to the long counter on the left and gave them back the dust pan and brooms. The staff offered us a cappuccino and we accepted. We were guided to a table and we waited in the smoky air until our cappuccinos arrived in low white thick rimmed cups with saucers. Each drink had a very high peak of frothy white foam that came above the top of the cup and it was smothered in a mess of brown chocolate.
On the first sip I could not believe the taste, smell and sensation of the creamy milky coffee as it slid around my mouth then throat and finally settled in my stomach. It was a sensation from heaven!
A life changing experience where instantly powdered coffee became passé. Just something that didn’t even approximate coffee let alone be a part of my kitchen ever again. I have been a coffee snob (read addict) ever since.
After this I would go to Papa Luigi’s and surreptitiously order a cappuccino whenever I could. It was a tad awkward as I would often be the only female in the place. This gave my university feminist mind things to contemplate. How could the European women of the Aussie world (being the wives of these blokes) miss out on this standard of coffee?
At that stage of life I would never consider that I was invading one of the last bastions of Southern European male sanctity.
In the ’70’s the men at the counter who made the coffee were young, well dressed and immaculate as only southern European men can be. They were not called baristas, they were just the sons of the macho men who frequented the place, I guess that the younger generation thought that making coffee was better than fishing, labouring, building or market gardening.
There was a group of these young men and through the years they progressed from being the coffee makers to chefs and then restaurant owners.
They were poised, confident and well groomed. They were the first generation who valued food before we Aussies had even thought about hospitality as an art and science.
I would notice them as they changed restaurant or coffee shop locations and we would “know” each other without ever having a conversation or even knowing each other’s names.
This process goes on today as these men move around the restaurant/coffee scene, and their loyal customers follow them when they “pop up” at the next place.
Recently I went to a new restaurant in Fremantle. It was a really top place with wonderful modern fresh Australian/Italian food with exquisite presentation. As I entered the restaurant I recognised the owner who was one of these men, he greeted me by name and we did an “air” kiss.
He was one of those guys who I had never been introduced to formally however for decades he had served me the most wonderful food and drinks.
It felt odd not knowing his name so I asked his staff his name so that I would could use it the next time I met him.
I went back time and again and he gave me the most fabulous service that didn’t change if I went there with a male date or with my daughter.
Recently one of my Physiotherapy friends and I decided to catch up. She came to Fremantle and I decided that we would go to that restaurant as the food and ambience was exactly what I enjoyed.
We had a drink at home and then wandered down to the restaurant and as it was unlicensed bought a bottle of wine from the pub nearby.
The food was great and the service fantastic and I noticed that the owner hovered around our table a bit and then he offered us a free drink which we accepted. We were having so much fun catching up we didn’t want to go home!
Well, we had already had a drink before dinner then half bottle of wine each and then another drink after that and we were fairly amped.
My friend retired to the rest room for some emptying and while she was away the owner of the restaurant came over to my table and engaged me in a conversation.
He then said:
“Wendy there is something I want to tell you”.
My befuddled brain was simply not concentrating so I probably nodded.
I looked up and he shyly moved around on his feet and looked away and then looked back and then he said.
“I have been in love with you for thirty years” and then he beamed me the feeling of thirty years of unrequited love.
The sensation was one of bliss, it was all warm and sparkling and it entered every cell of my being and it wafted up and down my body as it circled and engulfed me.
I was out of my sorts enough to let myself feel that sensation — I have to admit — it was exquisite.
I sat there trying to make sense of the situation with the few neurons that were available at the time. My brain kept saying, “Wow! What a lovely feeling I could get addicted to this…”
While I was experiencing this “out of world sensation” I was mute. The whole situation was way beyond anything that I knew how to respond to.
When I didn’t respond he said:
“You don’t believe me but it is true.” And then he beamed me another blast of bliss.
At this stage my friend reappeared and I was saved.