Midday Matinee is our people watching, people doing and people being feature. Join the Woodland Creatures for an afternoon break.

I was taken to an Italian restaurant in the north end of Boston by a friend who lived in Cambridge. It was the kind of place that locals know about and tourists rarely find.  The owner was an Italian immigrant and retired Boston cop. He wandered around the place greeting his customers, talking food and politics and baseball. His customers were part of his extended family. He was sitting with us when there was a loud crash from the kitchen. It sounded as if lots of the thick white plates had broken. He excused himself from our table and headed back through the hanging beads to the kitchen.

Most of the customer’s eyes followed him wondering what had happened. There was a stream of Italian coming from behind the beads and then the sound of more dishes breaking.  Pretty soon the owner comes back out with one arm around a young man and the other arm carrying a stack of plates.  He looks around the restaurant one table at a time. We are all looking back at him expectantly.

He tells us that this young man, a distant relative and new to America dropped some dishes. He tells us that breaking dishes is so easy that anyone can do it. He demonstrates by dropping the plates one at a time. This is fine dinner theater. He then hugs and kisses the young man on both checks and looks at us again. “Anyone can break a dish and a broken dish is no problem. The problem is if we let a broken dish break the spirit of this fine young man. He should not feel bad about this accident. We should not have a broken heart over a broken dish. Now, eat. Your food is getting cold.”

We all applauded this performance and the restaurant was buzzing. I am sure I am not the only diner who remembers the experience with a lump in my throat.

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