On a warm autumn day, in a town on the Mediterranean, I let my kid choose where she wanted to have lunch. Her choice led us to a place were locals go. Tables next to each other. Waiters saluting clients with a non-chalance of old friends. This kind of place.
We were given a table in the middle of the room and soon enough a couple was sat next to us.
She was beaming with elegance, her hair just out of a hairdresser’s. White blouse, dark skirt. Let’s call her Mathilde. He was dressed as if in a hurry. A hurry to see her, I thought. Let’s call him Henry. They both seemed to have been born in the middle of last century.
They ordered the plat du jour and wine. Henry immediately became chatty with the lady at the table next to them. He told her the story of his life in 5 minutes: he is retired, daughter lives in another country, he and the lady having lunch with him is not his wife and they just “see each other”. He would be good on Twitter, I thought, with such a talent for conciseness.
The lady at the next table offered them her unfinished bottle of wine. I also wanted to offer something, in exchange for more stories. I offered them our untouched basket of bread. They accepted it with the joy of 5 year olds on Christmas eve.
As we switched our attention to our plates, their dialogue unfolded:
– Oh, darling, your back hurts again?, Henry asked with a compassion level 100, as she tried to find a comfortable posture in her chair.
– Oh, it’s fine, Mathilde tried to reassure him.
– Well, you know the remedy. You come to my place. You undress. I give you a massage on your back, his hands demonstrating circular movements, as if around her delicate shoulders.
Mathilde blushed and directed his blue eyes with her green eyes to my daughter, as if saying: « Shsh, there are kids around ». Henry’s blue eyes responded: “Well, sooner or later, she will find out. What’s there to hide?!”
– Well, you felt good after our last time…, his sweet smile enveloping her.
We left the place with the feeling of having watched a good movie from the 50s. Their illuminated faces – a lovely memory of an autumn love story. Ageless. Priceless.
P.S. I remembered this story in the times of this pandemic… I truly hope they are well and their love continues to brighten their days.