Love Behind the Mask Part Five
By Trish Hubschman
Tony and I became officially engaged two weeks ago at Marco’s. Yeah, Tony gave me the ring at my place of business on a Saturday night in front of a packed house of dinner patrons. It did seem appropriate, though I hadn’t expected it. I was waiting on a table of a senior couple when Tony came up behind me and tapped on my shoulder. I turned my head. My first thought was that it was Ben coming to reprimand me about something.
“Follow me,” Tony said, jabbing his thumb over his shoulder toward the stage. Let me explain the stage. It’s a low platform with a microphone on it. It’s for karaoke or comedy night or a band, if we ever had one.
“What’s going on?” I asked, but I was talking to his back. He had turned away and was walking toward the stage. Quickly, I put the two plates of food down on the table and excused myself.
The lady customer giggled. “Go for it, honey,” she said. “See what he’s up to.”
I intended to. I threaded past the tables and hopped onto the stage. Tony was smiling slyly at me. I smiled back.
“Should I get down on one knee?” he asked. His hands were moving making the corresponding signs to the words he was saying. That was unusual for him. We did a sign here and there between us, but not every word. I wouldn’t understand it, nor would the patrons in the restaurant. I have a big question to ask you. His tone was, ‘I’ve got a secret.’
I wanted to hear it, of course. “No need to crease your pants legs,” I teased. “I think I’ll follow you better from up here anyway.”
“Will do,” he said, then turned toward the microphone. My cheeks started to burn. “I met this lovely waitress three months ago right here in Marco’s,” he began. “I fell in love with her, and it had nothing to do with the spaghetti and meatballs.” There were chuckles.
My face felt like it was about to burst. I wanted him to get on with it. “Ben will be annoyed that I’m not waiting tables right now,” I teased.
Tony waved his hand dismissively, then pointed to the kitchen door. Ben had come out and was listening. “Okay, to get this show on the road. I fell in love with Dana and now I want to ask her to marry me in front of her boss, her co-workers and the people she serves fine Italian food every night too. Before I could react, Tony reached into his pocket and pulled out a small box. He flipped it open and I screamed and threw my arms around his neck. When I released him, tears were sliding down my cheeks. Tony lifted my left hand and slid the ring on my finger. “I guess that means yes,” he said. Everyone laughed, then cheered.
We got off the stage. Tony shook hands of people as we passed tables. Then we came to Ben and the girls. “You’re going to get married here at Marco’s,” Ben said. He was looking at Tony. Tony glanced at me.
Lisa and Rose loved that idea, but I couldn’t give a definite answer on it yet. “I have to talk to my parents about all this,” I said. And that’s where I left it.
I looked forward to finally meeting my future in-laws. They were driving up from Maryland two weeks after Dana and I got engaged. She was a nervous wreck about her parents’ upcoming visit.
“You know, sweetheart, I’m okay with my hearing.” I pointed to my right ear. “If you think this might bother your parents,” I said, then trailed off. I don’t know what I would have said anyway.
Dana stopped midway to the kitchen table. We just got up for the day and were having breakfast. She had two mugs of coffee in her hands. She shook her head. “No, no, that has nothing to do with this,” she said. She started moving again and placed the cups on the table. “I told my folks you were deaf. They’re okay with that. They just have to remember to look at you when they talk.” She cocked her head to the side, trying to be humorous. ” But, I can’t guarantee that they always will.”
I nodded once. “Okay, then, what’s the problem?” I asked, flipping my hand out to the side.
Dana took a deep breath. “I don’t want a big, fancy wedding. I want something simple.”
I raised an eyebrow. I didn’t see anything wrong with her game plan. “You mean, like at Marco’s,?” I tossed at her. She smiled and nodded. “Ben would love that. He’d say it would be great for business.” We both laughed. “It’s our wedding, sweetheart. If that’s what you want, it’s fine with me.”
Dana took a sip of her coffee, then changed the subject. “What about your family? You’ve never spoken about that.”
Oh boy, I thought, it was now or never. “I have a brother in San Francisco. He won’t come in for the wedding, too far,” I said. I licked my lips. “And I have some cousins here in town. I’m not close to them.” I shrugged. “Heck, the patrons at Marco’s will do fine as our wedding guests.” We both laughed. “And Ben will be my Best Man.” It sounded fine to both of us.
Dana’s parents arrived late that afternoon. When we were introduced, her mother threw her arms around me in welcome. She said something to me, though I couldn’t make out the words with her head in my shoulder. I assume it was something like that she was happy to meet me. When she released me, I spoke those words and did the corresponding signs for them.
Dana’s mother clapped. “Oh, aren’t you so smart? My daughter talks such wonderful things about you.”
I glanced at Dana. I swear, she was turning beet red. I smiled at her, then turned back to her parents. I shook her father’s hand. “Dana and I would like to take you both to Marco’s for dinner,” I said. Dana’s mother’s face soured. My eyebrow rose. “You don’t like Italian food?” I asked.
She shook her head. “No, no, I love Italian food. It’s just that, um, Dana wants her wedding at that pizza joint.” Her voice held disgust.
I wasn’t perturbed. “I admit, Marco’s isn’t exactly a catering hall for weddings, but it’s a lovely restaurant and very popular. And, may I add, a small wedding in such times as we are in, is more appropriate and safer?” Dana’s mother did seem to relax. I held out my elbow to her. “Now, would you care to allow me to lead the way?” I said.
How’s that for charming, I thought.
She smiled and took my elbow. Dana and her father followed.
Dana and I were married five weeks later by a Justice of the Peace at the restaurant. We didn’t require masks for our fifty plus guests, but we did request that those in attendance be vaccinated. A few people didn’t come to the wedding because of that, but hey, no hard feelings.
To my surprise and delight, my brother, Carl, flew in from San Francisco for the wedding. I had two Best Men. Dana had two Maids of Honor, the waitresses. Rose was divorced so we allowed her the heading of Maid, not Matron of Honor.
Victor, Marco’s chef, was a guest, but he insisted on doing the cooking like always. He had helpers, but it was his kitchen and he was the boss. There was a huge dinner buffet and dessert bar. Ben did not give us the restaurant for free. He did provide us a discount since I was marrying one of his waitresses.
It was a fabulous success. Even Dana’s parents had to admit it was probably the nicest wedding they’d been to in a long time.
When Dana and I were in our hotel room, getting cozy and all, she told me she had made a decision about her job and had spoken to Ben about it earlier.
“I don’t think he was too thrilled by it,” she said. “But I told him I want to cut down on my work hours at Marco’s. This way I’ll be home waiting for my true love when he returns from work.”
My smile was radiant. Her smile was radiant. That was the best wedding gift I could ask for, well, for starters.
Trish Hubschman is the author of the Tracy Gayle mystery series. Tracy is a Long Island private detective. Her sidekick, Danny Tide, is the leader of the rock band, Tidalweav. Tracy is hired to find out who set fire to Danny’s tour bus. While doing this, more dangerous things develop.
Trish is a graduate of Long Island University’s Southampton Campus and has a Bachelor’s degree in English-Writing. She is deafblind and lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, author Kevin Hubschman, and their dog, henry.
Her website is www.dldbooks.com/Hubschman/