Every Friday night, at 7pm, Joseph Graceffa walks in and sits at the farthest table. Iphone is placed on his right side, wallet on his left, and the menu untouched. Meghan knows the drill. He orders the same thing everytime that he doesn't need to look at the menu. All it takes is a glance over to her and he is ready to order a slice of strawburry lemonade cake and a glass of iced tea. After thirty or so minutes he glances at her again which means he's ready for the check, that he pays with his debit card, and leaves a ten dollar tip to boot. He's been coming here for weeks now and she hates it.
She hates that he never eats the strawburry lemonade cake. Her strawburry lemonade cake. The very cake she spends everymorning preparing from scratch and decorating with fresh strawburries. He eats the strawburry. He plucks it off the cake everytime, which annoys her to no end. If he had just wanted strawburries, he could order the fruit bowl. But every Friday night Joseph Graceffa leaves his cake untouched. It's a complete insult to Meghan. Everyone loves her cake yet this guy does not even try a forkful.
The little bell on the door frame chimes and in comes Joseph Graceffa, bee-lining to his usual spot.
"Costomer," Rachel calls out to Meghan.
"Ok,"Meghan answers from the kitchen.
Meghan gives him a minute to settle down. As if they were both anticipating it, he looks up the same time she does and their eyes meet.
"Would you like to hear tonight's specials Mr. Graceffa?" Meghan asks knowing fully well that he will say no.
"It's ok. I would just like the strawburry lemonade cake and an iced tea," he smiles at her, "and you can call me Joey if you want. I hardly go by Mr. Graceffa."
"Sure thing, Joey," she returns his smile and walks over to the counter. Forgetting for a second that she hates his guts, Meghan painstakingly garnishes the cake with a fanned strawburry. Only after he asks for the check and leaves with a perfect slice of cake still on the table that she fumes again.
The following week Meghan decides to alter her cake recipe, adding strawburries in the cake. Week after week, the cake is left untouched. The fork unused. She experiments with multiple layers, cupcakes, no lemon, no strawburry. Every time a slice of her dignity is trashed.
Until one Friday she becomes so fed up that when Joey walks in and sits at the farthest table, placing his Iphone on his right and wallet to his left, Meghan does not wait for him to order but already serves him a delicious slice of strawburry lemonade cake and a glass of iced tea.
"Thanks?" Joey says to her. But she does not acknowledge his gratitude and instead walks back to the kitchen to wait patiently for thirty minutes or so. Thirty minutes pass and while Meghan is clearing other tables she glares at Joey, wondering when he'll leave. He looks back with concern.
"Are you ready for the check, Mr. Graceffa?" Meghan recites these useless words as she thrusts the bill towards his hands anway.
Joey places his debit card on the check and replies back with, "I have to ask you first though, have you been dealing with a bad day?" He genuinely looks worried and Meghan retorts with an evil, "I'm fine!" pulling the check away quickly to rid him for this week. He doesn't let go that easily though and Joey replies again with another question.
"You're always so cheery. What's happened? Are you ok?"
"Yes, Mr. Graceffa I'm ok." Meghan gives a little tug on the check but he has it firmly between his thumb and forefinger.
"You can call me Joey, remember?"
"You seem annoyed."
"It's nothing!" She gives another tug, more forcefully this time but he doesn't budge.
"Are you annoyed with me?"
"No, why would I be Joey?"
"You don't smile at me anymore."
She drops the check on the table and all of her frustration seethes out of her. Meghan stares directly into Joey's eyes.
"What I want to know is why you never even try the strawburry lemonade cake? Not even a piece! Everyone loves it and you just waste your slice. It could go to someone who appreciates it. I bake it fresh daily but how would you know. It pisses me off that you don't eat it. Like it's not good. That my baking is not good."
His voice is calm and slow as he tells her, "I don't really eat sweets-"
"Then why do you even order it?!?!" she interrupts.
"So that I have a reason to see you every week."
He still has his calm, slow voice as he says, "I didn't know you baked it..."
Before he can say anything more, Meghan takes the check and scurries over behind the counter. She is embarrassed beyond belief. She was so mean to him and he's been so sweet. And now this man must think he set his eyes on the wrong girl. She recruits Rachel to give Joey's card back. Meghan couldn't talk with him again.
She hears the clink of the bell on the door frame and Rachel comes back to the kitchens with Joey's dishes.
Rachel places the glass, fork and dish in the sink and says to Meghan, "he told me to tell you 'thank you and that it was very delicious' that he's looking forward to next week."