Hominy & Hash
IN THE GAMES OF LIFE, HE IS A PLAYER
by Constance Daley
American Reporter Correspondent
St. Simons Island, Ga
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. -- Arthur was a short, squat, little man about 50 always in the company of Ruth, his short, squat, little wife of roughly the same age. They were funny. Not funny looking, that was just them. They used their height and weight to their advantage by appearing six feet tall if you measure in personality.
Arthur always had a story, an outrageous story - one where you'd listen wide-eyed and interject occasionally "Arthur, you didn't."
"Yes, I did." he'd answer directly, flicking the ash from his cigar into the sand-filled urn at the pool. I'd look to Ruth for confirmation and she'd say, "he certainly did. One of these days he'll be caught. He almost was one time."
As the story went, Arthur and Ruth traveled from Pittsburgh to New York for a week of theater and a taste of the high life. Ruth's evening wardrobe was replete with baubles, bangles and beads, while Arthur was black tie by night and sport jacket and ascot by day. They dined at elegant restaurants tucked away and known only to the "in" crowd of whatever season. Arthur did his homework!
These establishments won't stay "in" long unless their clientele continues to be made up of the highly educated, highly placed, and - if they haven't descended from New York's famous 400 - they would still be very comfortable in their company. Arthur and Ruth were none of these things. She managed a boutique in Pittsburgh and he was a traveling salesman with a coat and suit company
But, they could play the role. When Arthur made reservations, he first established himself with the maitre'd, repeating his name and saying: "Jerome, this is Doctor Bernstein [not his real name here but he did use his real name] and Mrs. Bernstein would like to come in tonight for the second serving. Will you arrange that for us, please?"
"Yes, of course, Dr. Bernstein, will 8:30 suit you?"
"That will be fine, Jerome; we'll see you then."
I was beginning to think Arthur went through this entire charade just to be able to relate it to the appreciative audience gathering around him at the pool.
"That's not all, that's not all," he rushed on, assuming we thought the story was over. "We were just finishing dessert when the chef came over to our table and softly whispered in my ear: 'Dr. Bernstein, will you please come with me to the kitchen,' uh oh, I thought as I wiped my mouth on my napkin, stood up and followed him."
"What did Ruth do?" one of us asked.
"I can't describe it but I knew the look. Panic.
"So, I followed Chef Antonio to the kitchen and, whoa, what's this? Blood? Oy veh. I could see it was a nosebleed, a severe nosebleed, but, regardless, first we would stop the blood, right?"
Ruth speaks up: "I was still at the table, I didn't know what was going on."
Arthur continued: "Ice, we need ice. Chopped ice, shaved ice. Good, there, get some clean linens, wrap the ice in that napkin, put it on the back of his neck, here, son, look at the ceiling while they hold that on the back of your neck. Don't worry about the blood. It will clot in a minute. You, there, get a smaller roll of ice wrapped and place it across the bridge of his nose. Don't worry, son. Bleeding's okay. That's what noses do. They bleed. That's why we call them nosebleeds. I bantered on to lighten the moments, they relaxed a little. I was in charge. But, again, oy veh."
The look on Arthur's face told us he was reliving it. "I told them, if it doesn't stop in one minute - a full minute, by the clock! - take him around the corner to Bellview, but I do believe it will stop.
"And it did. I never placed a hand on him, the other cooks did all the hands-on treatment, but I tell you, while I was there" he said dreamily, "I was the doctor. Then, Jerome came over to our table and went to pick up the check and I waved him off. 'No, no, Jerome, that's not necessary.' I said and then he said: 'at least an after dinner cordial?' and this we accepted. Word got around the restaurant and people nodded approvingly. It was nice
"What happens if they find out you're not a doctor?"
"Oooh, that would hurt. Not as much as it hurt me to say 'no, thanks' when Jerome offered to pick up the check. That hurt. But in that moment I was the doctor, the very rich doctor. We go there whenever we're in New York. People know us, the staff fusses over us, and, as for being part of the established clientele, well, we're no longer trying to fit in, oh no, we're "in."