There’s this great waiter in North Chicago named Brad. Brad is ageless, with a salt and pepper beard and bright eyes underneath wire rimmed glasses. Every Monday night, Brad receives a 40% tip from booth number 4 at Gulliver’s pizzeria. Monday night is Hot Date Night for the Hamann boys.
Diana started this tradition a few months ago. It just this little special thing she does. It’s even more important, given all the hours Diana puts in trying to keep the wine store from turning into the vinegar store.
On rare occasions, I get to join them. One such occasion was three days ago. I arrived just as Brad delivered fried calamari for Elijah and Luca and a glass of wine for Diana.
It’s hard to describe just how destroyed booth number 4 becomes over the course of a Hot Date Night. Luca consumes free bread from the inside out, which is the equivalent of lighting an M80 firecracker in a ball of dough. There always seems to be a dusting of parmesan cheese…everywhere. I mean everywhere. You know those big, tall plastic glasses of ice water you get at Italian restaurants? Well, now picture that ice water on the floor. And the booth.
Luckily for Brad, Luca doesn’t spill marinara on any surface other than himself.
But the whole thing is just so friggin fun. The boys shriek and yell and laugh. Brad loves them and does that constant ribbing accustomed to uncles. “Okay…who ordered the raw anchovies?”
But when the bill arrives and I look across the destruction, I usually catch Brad off to the side with a mop ready. And then I do a little more math.
p.s. This photo is not from Gulliver’s pizzeria.