When you’re behind the only way to catch up is to slow down and make every move count. As an experienced server Kenny knew this, but he didn’t—slow down that is. He hurried and the order of escargot, six snails, in his right hand popped and rattled in its sizzling metal tray as he pounded through the kitchen and into the dining room. It was okay. He was watching what he was doing and he knew how slippery those little cephalopods could be.
In his left hand he transported a big flat bowl of lobster bisque. Thick and orange. Kenny knew that in an unsteady hand soup will slosh. Sloshing leaves high tide marks on the edges of white bowls. Untidy stains like that were severely frowned upon in the Chez Madeleine dining room.
Kenny made sure the snails were safe during his balletic transit of the dining room. He presented himself table-side and prepared to serve the plate to a woman in a white suede jacket. As he did, the unwatched soup bowl did a slo-mo tilt. Kenny didn’t see it, but he felt the weight of several dozen reduced lobsters shift in the bowl and he reacted quickly, recovering the balance in the nick of time.
However—one hot snail tumbled and dropped onto the white table cloth.
The errant escargot landed and bounced. Melted garlic butter (with fines herbes) rooster-tailed from the rolling shell. The woman in the white suede jumped and emitted a Potemkin silent scream.
Kenny froze. Froze is different than slowing down to make every move count. Froze is what bunnies do in headlights.
When the maitre d’ got to the table the husband was on his knees with a napkin brushing at a spot of garlic butter (and fines herbes) about the size of a pinhead. The woman had found her voice and was loudly explaining to everyone in the neighborhood that Kenny had grotesquely stained her white suede bolero. She didn’t seem to appreciate how lucky she was. She’d come ever so close to wearing an orange and white creamsicle jacket.