Drop A Penny

"I'm worried," said the Brunette when I returned from the restroom. I patted her hand.

"No worries," I said. "Weren't the appetizers delicious?" I'd have thought she couldn't help but nod at the wisdom in that. After all, the chicken satay and the veggie cakes had been wonderful. I could have had three more dishes of each with no problem at all. And there was more to come!

But instead of nodding, she gave me a puzzled frown.

"I'm not worried about the quality of our upcoming entrees," she said and took back her frown. "Yesterday's lunch was grand. Tonight should be no different."

Yes, that's right. In between samping books and authors at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, we had wandered down to Time 4 Thai and gotten ourselves ensnared.

"Then, why are you worried?"

"Because you've been to the bathroom five times since we got here," she pointed out. I hadn't realized she'd been counting. I smiled reassuringly.

"Oh, that," I said. "I'm not actually using it every time I go."

"Stop patting my hand," she said. "What have you been doing, then?"

"Throwing coins into the fountain."

"Fountain? What fountain?"

"The one in the men's room," I said. "It's a nice one. Metallic, against the wall. Rippled so the water makes this relaxing sound as it falls." I searched my pockets for more change.

"What are you wishing for?" she wanted to know.

"Oh, for the food to continue to be excellent," I said. I haven't had good Thai food in so long, I didn't want the experience to stop. "And it's working! Every bite tastes better than the last."

She deepend her frown. "There wasn't a fountain in the women's room."

"Well," I said. "This is Europe, after all. They're not always as progressive in matters of gender equality as we Americans."

That made her roll her eyes. "I don't think it's a fountain," she said.

"Oh? Then what--"

"Excuse me," the head waiter interrupted. "I'm sorry, but there has been a delay. Something's gone wrong with the water supply. We hope to have it fixed, soon."

"That's definitely not what I wished for," I said when he had gone. I harrumphed for emphasis. "I wonder--"

This time I was interrupted by laughter from the wait staff. The head waiter noticed our attention and came over to explain.

"It seems," he said with a smile, "that someone's child has filled the men's room, um, equipment with pennies. The obstruction automatically shut off all of our water. We'll have it fixed soon and your food will be out directly."

We nodded him politely off. The Brunette gave me a look.

"What?" I said.

"Have you learned anything from this?" she asked.

"Well," I said. "I learned that I was being cheap. I should have thrown in tuppence and asked for the place to be cleared of kids, too."

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