Each evening, you are greeted at the door by your maître d’, Mark Griswold. As he guides you to your seat at one of the many gingham-clothed tables you admire the decor; pictures, artifacts, and souvenirs collected from around the globe as well as political paraphernalia, a large share of the latter focused on Calvin Coolidge.
The music you hear changes each time you come to the Bistro, from the sweet melodies of an Italian opera one week to the feet-tapping rhythms of Dixieland Jazz the next to the enigmatic, where-could-that-be-from, indie-hit that could just as easily be from Argentina as Lapland.
Once seated, your server, Shelley Dudley, comes over to tell you about that evening’s prix-fixe menu. The food always seems to compliment the music so well and is often equally exotic. One week it may be the cuisine of India; the next, food from the great American drive-in; and another, the cuisine of Italy.
You take your first bite of the delectable plate before you and, as it awakens your taste buds, you are greeted tableside by your “boy-named-Sous” chef, Steve Corda, dressed in black. He asks you if everything is to your liking before walking away with a little “Dean Martin, Johnny Cash Mojo Swagger” in his step, something you rarely see in a world that has given over to “uptight, pencil-neck, political-correctness”. He looks so familiar. Hadn’t you once seen him playing a Serbian gangster? Or maybe it was as a victim of Bigfoot.
He takes a seat at the next table. Seated next to him is the maître d’ and your server. They are a boisterous bunch, with laughter resounding amidst sweeping hand gestures and grand proclamations about “solving the world’s problems in four courses”. They notice your interest as you strain to hear what they are saying over the din of conversation and clatter of silverware of the other diners and they soon wave you over to join them at one of the open seats at their table.
You are immediately taken in by their conversation. It spans from discussions about things that have happened and the accomplishments and idiosyncrasies of the luminaries and leaders who have celebrated their birthdays on “this day in history”, to fun and not-so-fun facts about the region of the world that is serving as the backdrop of this particular day. And Steve always takes a moment to reflect on “the spice of the week”, a little tidbit of philosophy that, “tasted”, makes the world a better place.
Every so often, the music seems to crescendo and the group disappears back into the kitchen for a brief moment only to reemerge with the evening’s next course. As you continue to enjoy the food before you, the conversation one evening may turn to the great philosophies that guide our culture, Mark often exclaiming that the answer to almost any of the problems facing us, is to “keep it simple, Senator!” and put our faith in the family and in God. On another evening it may turn to world events ripped from the headlines or obscure but surprisingly important legislation making its way through congress.
What a delight! This is what dinner conversation should be! As your fork cuts into your pâté or you tear off another piece of naan, you look up to see another diner joining you. One week it might be a movie star from the Golden-Age of Hollywood, another it may be a local politician, the world’s most published historian, or a charity doing great work in the community. And every week, no matter who the special guest, they’re sure to be interesting.
Only an hour has gone by. So quickly the time has passed. You hate to leave. Yet, you have experienced so much! You can’t wait until next time to join the conversation once again, here, at the Political Bistro.