Antonia – Possibly a Mob Front?

“The square shaped balding man burst through the kitchen door with two glasses of water for us, and in a very loud and deep voice, he explained that it was his birthday, and we would eat what he felt like making us.”

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Well, this one time I took my friend Antonia to dinner at (what seemed to be) a front for some type of illicit activity.

She had just moved to a new area, and we wanted to check out the local shops and restaurants. While we were wandering, we stumbled into a tiny Italian place. Back home, the small hole-in-the-wall restaurants always have the best food, so we were excited to give it a shot. Big curtains were covering the entry windows, so we had no idea what was inside until we trudged through the door.

Inside, we were met with emptiness and silence. We both immediately thought the place was closed, and I spun around and searched for the store hours posted somewhere on the door. While I was looking, we heard a heavy THUD as a young woman barked “I’ll be right with you!”

She appeared, greeted us confusingly, and asked us ‘what she could do for us’. Which, looking back, is probably a red flag. But we were naive and hungry, so we said we were there for dinner. She looked puzzled but motioned us to follow her to a booth right by the entrance.

She then disappeared into the back, and we heard a muffled conversation between our hostess and a man. The consensus was basically they were not prepared for us or didn’t know how to proceed. I asked my date if she wanted to split, but she insisted we stay for the story.

The square shaped balding man burst through the kitchen door with two glasses of water for us, and in a very loud and deep voice, he explained that it was his birthday, and we would eat what he felt like making us. We whole-heartedly agreed.

We waited around thirty minutes, and he again returned with three large bowls of spaghetti and meat sauce. He placed two bowls in front of us, and one next to me for himself. He sat with us and ate. We had light and awkward conversation with him during, and he kept asking us jokingly if we were cops or with the health board. He was incredibly nervous about us, so my date kept cracking corny puns or awful jokes because he would forcibly laugh at anything designed with humor. We talked about our lives, the cities we’ve lived in, our pets (he had a teacup Chihuahua named Princess) and his wife.

He decided we were good people and didn’t charge us for the meal. We wished him a happy birthday, he hugged us, and we went on our way. Easily the best spaghetti I’ve ever had in my life. The restaurant, unfortunately, no longer exists.

 

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Phicklephilly – 2017 – Holiday Party at Gran Caffe L’Aquila

What did that guy steal from his boss at the party?

I worked at the salon on Sunday. Trish came to visit me with a Latte and donuts. We chit chatted for a while. When a friend comes to visit, it always makes the time pass more quickly.

My lady friend, Mary told me that at Devon Seafood they do 1/2 off bottles of wine on Sundays. I was down for that. After work, I was sitting there waiting for her. I sipped a martini, just to kick off the afternoon. The bar was crowded and a little noisy. But I had an empty seat on either side of me. I heard a voice to my left ask if the seat was taken, and without looking, I said it was. I turn and it’s Mary! (For more on Mary, See: Mary – 2016 to Present – Chapter 1 – Unexpected Table for Two)

We settle on a bottle of red zinfandel. It’s her favorite. So even if the bottle if $30 you’re only paying $15 each to share a whole bottle. We’re chatting, and Church shows up. He wasn’t very talkative, but seemed better after he ordered some calamari. He’s not much of a talker when it comes to more than one person.

We hung out there for a bit, and I could see Mary was getting a good buzz on. She asked me what was in the bag I had sitting on the bar. I told her after our little get together that I had to go to a holiday party for the new company I’m working for now. In the bag was a gift wrapped present of two different scarves. It was for a Pollyanna that they were having at tonight’s event.

When we left, Church went his way, and Mary decided to walk me over to the restaurant. We get there, and I think Mary wanted to go in with me, but I told her it was employees only. She didn’t mind. I told her I’d call her an UBER, but she said she wanted to walk to clear her head.

I went into the bar and mostly everyone was there. I grabbed a drink from the open bar. I was chatting with the owner’s son, Jon and his Asian girlfriend. She’s really beautiful, and apparently an heiress to a clothing company in China. She told me her dad wanted her to come back to China and run the company, but she’s not sure. If I were Jon, I would marry her and move to China and run that company!

After a bit, we all head upstairs to a private area they have set up for us. Everybody puts their mystery gifts on a table off to the side. The restaurant proceeds to serve us a delicious five course meal. It was terrific. I am sitting at the good table. The founder, is to my right at the head of the table, her husband is across from me, and I’m next to the heiress and Jon.

After dinner they begin the Pollyanna. Everybody picks a random number out of a hat. When your number is called, you go to the gift table and pick a gift. Or…you can take an existing gift away from someone else that already unwrapped theirs. It’s pretty intense.

So it’s my boss’s turn and she picks up the present I brought in. She doesn’t know it’s from me. No one does. She opens it, and is delighted with the two nice scarves. They could be worn by anyone, but she puts them both on. She’s happy.

Then it’s another guy’s turn and he gets up and takes the scarves away from my boss! I’m mortified and delighted by this crazy turn of events. Just for office politics, I’d never usurp a gift from my boss, no matter what the circumstances of the game.

She’s being a good sport about the whole thing, but I can see she’s probably disappointed that she lost two nice scarves.

Another number is called out. It’s my turn. I reach for a gift that looks like it’s a bottle of wine, which it is, so I’m happy. Free booze always goes down easy.

Another number is called out. It’s my boss’ husband. He gets up, and approaches the dwindling gift table. He smiles, and then turns to scarf stealer guy, and takes the scarfs right from around his neck! Yay! The gift I brought in that was good, went to my boss. It was taken from her, and her husband steps in at the end and gets it back for her. He puts on the black one and she has the brown and red one on now. It was a great moment. I’m new, so now I have a story to tell them both Monday morning on our face time conference call.

The party was great and a lot of laughs. It’s a fun crew. Hopefully, we’ll all work together for a long time.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday at 9am EST.

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