Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Happy Man's Shirt

The long, difficult labor took its toll on the queen.  The birth finally produced a beautiful baby boy, but the poor woman felt her strength failing. The king was summoned and sat by her side as the baby was cleaned and wrapped in cotton. The doctors said their queen’s prognosis was not good. In her last breath, she whispered to the king that he should care for their child, it would be her gift to the king. “I will,” he replied.
The king kept his word. His son was his great joy, the light of a life that was otherwise blessed. His kingdom was small but prosperous. His palace was situated by the sea and the waves lapped the thick honey-colored walls of the king’s home. The kingdom’s orchards were filled with every sort of fruit tree, from lemon and orange, apple and plum, to more exotic produce.    From the palace windows, the widower king could see the humble fishing fleet casting their nets till they were filled with the day’s plentiful catch. But though the king cared for his precious son, the boy was never happy. No matter what his father did, the boy never seemed contented. As the years passed, this worried the king greatly. He finally sought the wisdom and counsel of his sages. The wisest of these considered long and hard. “The solution is quite simple, Your Highness,” said the old man. “You must search your kingdom until you find the person who is always contented, always happy and full of joy.
“Take the shirt of that happy subject,” he concluded. “And put it on your son and he will be happy, too.”
So the king summoned his servants to the throne room and instructed them in the task at hand. They set off and combed the kingdom, interviewing everyone they could find who seemed to be happy. But as hard as they tried, they could not find anyone who was truly happy, all the time. The king finally resolved that this was futile and fell into a great melancholy.  Then, as he often did when he felt sad himself, he took a late afternoon stroll along the pier where the fishing boats were moored, the fishing folk tending their nets for the next day’s catch.
As the king, reached the end of the long wooden dock, he suddenly heard something incredible: the sound of someone singing with an unearthly voice of a joyous clear tone. Half dazed, the king rushed to the place where the boat was moored and inside found a poor, humble fisherman in a tattered jacket, sewing his nets. The fisherman did not notice the king and just kept singing.
“Excuse me, fisherman,” the king said, taking the man from his musical reverie. “But you have the most beautiful voice I have ever heard.”
“Your Highness, thank you, I sing to cheer my spirits,” the poor fisherman explained. “The more I sing, the happier I feel and I sing every day of my life.”
So this was a truly happy man. The king stood in awe and asked. “Could you please do me a favor?” the king asked with a tremble in his voice.
“I would do anything for my king,” replied the fisherman, who like all the king’s subjects, was faithful to their liege. “What do you need from me?” The king approached the fisherman and unbuttoned his old jacket, fully intent on the shirt he needed and what did he find?
The man had no shirt.
(This is my version of a tale which I think was told by Joel ben Izzy, but it has gone through a lot of revising in the oral tradition process.)

When the War is Over (W.S. Merwin)

When the war is over
We will be proud of course the air will be
Good for breathing at last
The water will have been improved the salmon
And the silence of heaven will migrate more perfectly
The dead will think the living are worth it we will know
Who we are
And we will all enlist again.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Restaurant Dialogues

Jim:                Where is there a good restaurant?
Maggie:         Why not? Tinguaro's Restaurant at 156 Thomas Jefferson Boulevard.
Jim:                Oh yes... I’ll phone for reserve a table for two.
Jim:                I'd like to book a table for two at 8 pm in the name of Jim, please. Could we have                      a table by the window, please?
Waitress:      No problem, sir.

Waitress:      Good evening, madam, sir. Do you have a reservation?
Jim:                Good evening. Yes, we have a reservation for a table for two in the name of Jim.
Waitress:      Yes sir. May I take your coats?
Maggie & Jim: Thank you.
Waitress:      Your very welcome to Tinguaro's Restaurant.
Waitress:      Please follow me, please.

Maggie:         May I see a menu, please?
Waitress:      I'll bring you the menu straightaway.
Waitress:      Would you like to order now?
Jim:                Yes, what is today's special, please?
Waitress:      Spaghetti:  grated tomato, chicken, mushrooms, hot chilli (UK)  / chili (USA) and                       garlic.
Jim:                Not really... I’m allergic to garlic.
Maggie:         What do you recommend?
Waitress:      Roast beef with chips.
Maggie:         Does it come with salad?
Waiter:           Yes, ma'am.
Maggie:         Oh yes,  I love roast beef.  For starters / entrée I'll have the soup and for the main                     course I'd like the roast beef with chips and salad, please.
Waitress:      How would you like your meat cooked?
Maggie:         Rare, please.
Waitress:      Enjoy your meal!
Maggie:         Could we have some brown bread, please?
Waiter:           Certainly.
Jim:                Can you bring me the soup of the day and a salad, please?
Waitress:      Tropicana, Norwegian, Mixed, Chicken, Pasta salad, Cesar, cheese salad...
Jim:                Cheese salad, what type of cheese do you have, please?
Waitress:      Brie, Camembert, Colby, Cheddar cheeses.
Jim:                Yes, can I have a cheese salad, please?
Waitress:      Yes, sir.
Maggie:          Would you kindly pass me / Could you pass me the salt, Jim?
Jim:                Here you are, Maggie.

Maggie:         Excuse me, this roast beef is over done, I ordered rare.
Waiter:           Excuse me, madam.
Jim:                Oh, wow! but my soup is cold.
Waitress:      No problem, sir.

Jim:                Could I see the wine menu, please?
Waitress:      Would you like red, white or rosé.
Maggie:         Is   there   anything   you  would  recommend, please?  /  Could you  recommend                     something, please?
Waitress:      I'll have a bottle of red wine or rosé wine.
Maggie:         Which drink would you recommend?
Waitress:      Rosé.
Jim:                Yes, of course.
Maggie:         We'd  like a glass of mineral water and a  beer without alcohol / low-alcohol beer                      too, please.
Waitress:      Still or sparkling?
Maggie:         Sparkling on the rocks.

Waiter:           Would you like a dessert?
Maggie:         Yes, I'd like the cheesecake with cranberries, please.
Jim:                Yes, can I have the cream with caramelized walnuts, please.
Waitress:      Surely.
Maggie:         That was delicious, Jim.

Waiter:           Would you like anything else?
Maggie:         Yes, can I have a coffee.
Waitress:      Black coffee, coffee with milk, decaffeinated coffee, espresso, Irish coffee...
Maggie:         I would prefer an espresso, please.
Jim:                And I'd like an Irish coffee, please.
Waiter:           Would you like anything else?
Jim:                No, that's all, thanks.

Waitress:      Was everything to your satisfaction?
Maggie:         Certainly not!
Jim:                It's a shame.
Maggie:         The meal was a rip-off and the service was appalling.
Waitress:      I'm so sorry, ma'am.
Waitress:      I beg your pardon, sir.
Maggie:         Excuse me.
Waitress:      Yes, ma'am. Would you like anything else?
Jim:                Could I have the bill (UK) / check (USA), please?
Waitress:      Yes, of course.
Maggie:         We'd like separate bill / check, please.
Waitress:      Yes, madam.
Jim:                Can I pay by credit card?
Waitress:      Surely, sir.
Maggie:         Do you take Visa?
Waitress:      Yes, ma'am.