Off The Menu: Woman With a Cup of Coffee in a White Tablecloth Restaurant

Rare Book Division, The New York Public Library. (1956).  Stage Delicatessen and restaurant  Retrieved from

Rare Book Division, The New York Public Library. (1956). Stage Delicatessen and restaurant Retrieved from

No, I am not ready to leave. Why do you always do this? You always slurp your coffee like a Russian Wolfhound at a bowl of water, like it’s the last cup of coffee on earth you’re ever going to get, and then you do what you just did, just stand up like that, like you’re doing now, put on your coat and your scarf, and stand there, looking down at me with that Day of Judgment glare.

It’s so rude. Just, for once, just sit down. Sit down. Take off your overcoat and hang it on the back of the chair, and just sit there and talk to me.


No, we didn’t say everything there was to say during dinner, which was pretty delicious, I must say. How was your chicken?

I know, but tell me again. My swordfish was a little dry.

Would you stop? No one’s looking at us. You’re just imagining things, like you always do. Every single time I want to enjoy a cup of coffee, you… I wonder if they have any more of those cookies. Where’s the waiter?

Why is there never a waiter when you want one. Just get up and go over there, by the bar, where they all seem to be standing, just ask them, nicely, for another plate of these delicious cookies. Not the Madeleines, I hate soft cookies with my coffee, tell them to bring the biscotti... All right. Ask them.

They are not looking. You have such an imagination. If they wanted us to leave, they’d come over and say something. No one’s said anything, no one’s even looking. Those people at the bar are having a perfectly marvelous time. If they were hungry, they’d have made an earlier reservation.

Stop it. I hate it when you fidget like that, it makes me nervous. And don’t glare. I like to sip my coffee. You’re always saying you never see me just sit when we’re home, and then when we’re out, here I am sitting, and you get all fussed up and start making a scene because I am, for once, sitting. I don’t understand you. Here I am being perfectly reasonable, sitting, just drinking coffee, just enjoying the end of a really nice meal, and you…

Well, if that’s what you think, then that’s what you think. If you think they won’t give us a reservation next time, then next time we’ll just go somewhere else, or else you could use what little brains I think God gave you and make a reservation under someone else’s name. Mick Jagger, for instance. Or Ryan Seacrest. A little panache, a little something outside the box for a change instead of doing your usual cower in the corner thing. My God!

No, I am not finished yet. And you getting up that way and standing and putting on your coat again is hardly going to make me finish my coffee any faster. How many times do I have to tell you, I don’t like to gulp. Now just take off your coat, sit back down, and let me enjoy myself here.

There. See how much easier it is when you do things my way?