“I’m going to go for the smoked salmon bagel, I think,” Maurice said smiling as he drummed his fingers lightly on the laminate table top. Betty smiled softly too, for that was what he always said when they came for Sunday brunch at Roni’s. And he’d have a filter coffee, an orange juice and end with a jam-filled doughnut.
When Donny, the owner’s grandson, came to take their order, Maurice reeled off his request, which Donny dutifully noted down on his pad, just as he did every Sunday.
“And you Ma’am, what will you be having?” Betty looked up at the young man, his sparky eyes, nose dotted with freckles. She bit her lip, hesitated. Donny raised his eyebrows.
“Well. I think I’ll try the pancakes – with maple syrup,” she said slowly, deliberately. The drumming of Maurice’s fingers stopped. He reached across the table, touched her hand. “No, no, don’t be silly. She’ll have her usual – cream cheese bagel with cucumber sliced not-too-thick-not-too-thin.”
“No, dear. I’d like to try the pancakes today,” Betty said, still smiling.
Donny’s eyes darted from the woman to her husband. “Uh, should I come back in a minute? Give you folks a bit of time to decide?”
“Yes, son. That would be best.” Donny walked back over to the counter.
“Now, Betty, just what do you think you’re playing at?”
“Playing at? Oh, Maurice, don’t be such a stick-in-the-mud. I’ve been eating cream cheese bagels every Sunday for the last twenty-eight years. Can’t I try something different for a change?”
“I’m not trying anything different, am I?” His voice dropped to a whisper. “Do you see me going around ordering somethin’ new? No. Just same old smoked salmon bagel and coffee for me. Same as always.”
Betty sighed, “But…”
“Come on. You’re not feeling yourself. Just stick with your usual and you’ll feel a whole lot better.”
“I feel fine, Maurice. But, if it makes you happy…”
“That’s my girl,” said Maurice, patting her hand. He waved to Donny who returned with pencil and pad in hand.