“The sparkling froth of this wine is the dazzling image of us, the French.”
“Bon,” the man exclaimed curtly, and I poured the woman her glass and then filled up the glass for monsieur. I walked away with my tail between my legs. David had watched the whole thing, and he was mortified for me. He sent the couple some savory petit fours on the house to try and console them. I apologized to David, who was sweet to me and rather forgiving about it, and moved on. I had other tables to tend to. After work that night, my anxiety was at an all-time high. I kept replaying that instance over and over in my head. I was practically dreading going into the restaurant the next night, and it was now affecting my sleep.
Just a few nights later, as I was entering the kitchen with a tray full of empty glasses, the door to the kitchen swung open rather abruptly, causing my tray to shake. Two wine glasses slipped off and shattered on the floor right in front of the chef’s cooking line. Again, I wanted to die. I could not believe my clumsiness. Two of the bussers immediately came to my side and started sweeping up the broken glass. The chefs continued to work and plate dishes and didn’t seem to care, but it was still quite embarrassing. I was relieved when that night was over. After dropping the glasses, I was terrified to carry anything on a tray for the rest of the night.
Then there was the night when I was in the cellar opening a bottle of champagne, and it splashed and exploded everywhere due to me not opening it properly and professionally. It sprayed and splattered and made a mess, almost to the ceiling and quite definitely all over my clothes. I could not go out onto the restaurant floor until my clothes appeared dry. So, within a week, needless to say, I had made all of these little mistakes. I was being really hard on myself about it and in fact questioning if I should even deserve to be in the wine business at all. David told me it was very normal, as I was not used to this work. He went on to say when you are working under pressure and need to work with urgency mistakes early on are bound to happen. I really appreciated David for all that he was teaching me, but also for his calm, relaxed demeanor. Nothing seemed to make him angry, and he was very rational and remained unruffled in most situations.
David and I had an interesting relationship. I could tell he had an affinity for me; even, Elizabeth had said, a “crush.” I am sure this was why his reactions toward me when I made mistakes were pleasant. He would even openly tell me about the affairs he had had even though he had been married to his wife for fifteen years. “C’est normale in the French culture,” he said when a shocked look came over my face one night as we finished stocking the cellar.
I said with high curiosity, “But does your wife know and accept this?”