On Valentine’s Day every year, Harry would take his girlfriend Charlotte to “THE CLARET LOUNGE” for dinner. The restaurant was one of the most popular in London and he had to make early reservations for table 5. The interesting thing about table 5, was that not only did it have the outlook of the frosty London city but also the uncut view of the restaurant with its typical orchestra. For the last few years they always preferred this table for the scenic beauty around table 5.
Harry was unusually anxious today and he kept drumming his fingers on the spotless crystal table, absent in some unknown thought.
‘You’re thinking?’, Charlotte asked.
But he didn’t notice.
Annoyed, she snapped her fingers in front of his face, which got his attention.
Harry- ‘What? Did you say something?’
Charlotte said, ‘NEVER MIND’.
Turning her attention to the pianist, playing one of her favourite songs, she thought how can Harry ignore her like this, and that too on Valentine’s day?!
Her phone buzzed and she saw a text message from her best friends, Robert and Cindy.
She opened the text and found photos of them having a blast in Maldives; with no snow to bother, only the spring breeze and the blue ocean keeping them company.
This got her more irritated that her friends were having fun to that extent and here she was being ignored by her so called “attentive boyfriend”.
She was about to tell him, that she has changed her mind and would like to go home but then the waitress came in with the menu cards.
‘Hi! I’m Claire and I will be your waitress for the evening.’ ‘Here are your menu cards’.
Accepting the cards, Charlotte already knew what to order but she wanted to see what would Harry say if she picked up something different. Therefore, she chose set menu 3 instead of her usual set menu 2, which consisted of mushroom soup, chicken steak with garlic sauce and steamed tuna salad – She hated tuna.
But to her surprise he didn’t even detect that his girlfriend, who always picked “Set menu 2” had chosen something different and asked for tuna salad which she very much disliked. Instead he just selected his usual food items and was about to order the dessert, when Charlotte finished his sentence and told the waitress that for dessert he would have the “Belgium chocolate ice-cream with white chocolate chips”.
Harry for the first time, in hours acknowledged his girlfriend’s presence and smiled at her.
‘Oh now you smile’? Because I know what you like’?! Charlotte said sarcasm dripping from her voice. She went on -‘Did you even notice that I ordered something different and that you didn’t come here alone’?
Now this got Harry’s attention- full and wide.
Keeping a cool voice, he responded, ‘It’s just that I’m thinking about how to finish this project, that’s it, I’m sorry.’
‘Sorry?!’ Charlotte remarked incredulously ‘I have a job too, YOU KNOW, but here I am, all dolled up for you on this special day and did I ever complain, once, about my busy schedule?’
Harry’s next line was interrupted by the waitress who came with their order, which stopped their argument.
Just when she was about to serve the soup, the lights suddenly went OFF! Leaving the room pitch dark.
There were screams and ‘aaahhs’ and loads of ‘calm down everyone’, by the staff and within a few minutes which felt like hours- it came back.
To the waitress’s utter horror, she saw Charlotte’s dress half covered with soup and her nostrils were fuming like a train engine! For a minute everybody froze and looked at Charlotte. To add more to this embarrassing scene, the kid at the table beside them started laughing loudly.
She couldn’t take it anymore, she stood up, commanded Harry that after coming back from the powder room she would go straight home. As soon as she got in, Charlotte started stomping her heels and screaming as if she was in a Banshee contest.
Taking deep breaths, she started chanting her mother’s mantra– ‘A lady should never cry in a public place – no matter what’.
After ten minutes or so, she calmed herself and on returning- she saw that her table was cleaned and instead of the mess there was a champagne and candles and periwinkle flowers…her favorite. Arching her eyebrows in confusion she noticed Harry holding a mic in one hand and a small blue tiffany ring box in another. ‘I’m sorry this was not how you planned, this day, neither did I; at least not the soup disaster’, Harry said- making some of the audience giggle.
Sweat trickling from his forehead, Harry went to his feet and did something which Charlotte never expected and he went on- ‘You don’t deserve someone like me, but this fool won’t be able to breath without you by his side’. ‘Charlotte Longbottom would you do the honour of being my wife and soul mate from this day on’. – Harry ended the speech and opened the tiffany ring box revealing a rose gold 8 carat diamond ring.
Charlotte couldn’t believe her eyes and her legs felt like concrete – she couldn’t move – it felt like oxygen left her body completely and she started breathing heavily. Slowly she went to table 5.
‘Yes,’ she whispered. Now more loudly – ‘YES!!! YES, I will take you, Harry Windsor -as my klutzy soul mate and husband’ and she hugged him tightly. Everyone broke with claps and whistles. The kid who laughed before started jumping on his chair and again piercingly- said to the now would-be husband and wife ‘CONGRATULATIONS’!!