Love, Life and Linguine - By Melissa Jacobs Page 0,1

as Dad always said, a real looker. Mom has shoulder-length, gray blond hair and dark green eyes. Mom is thin, although she eats like a horse. I wish I had Mom’s looks, and metabolism, but I have dark, wavy hair and milk chocolate eyes from my father’s family.

As much as I love Mom, I always felt closer to Dad. I loved hanging out in the restaurant with him. I would greet the regulars and they would say, “There’s Jay’s little girl.” On school nights when I couldn’t be in the restaurant, I would try to wait up for Dad.

I’d turn on the kitchen lights and be waiting for Dad when he came through the door. “You should be in bed,” he would say. It was the opening line of our routine.

I’d say my line. “I’m hungry, Daddy.”

“No one should go to bed on an empty stomach,” he’d answer.

Sandwiches were our late night snacks. Dad could make a sandwich from anything in the refrigerator. He was a leftover artist, but he never compromised on mustard. “Good mustard makes everything taste better,” Dad would say. “Now, my Mimi, tell me about your day. What’s the what?”

We continued this tradition through my childhood and adolescence, right up until I left for college. As I got older, it got easier to wait up for Dad, but harder to tell him about my life. He didn’t want to hear about boys, but I always wanted to hear the daily goings on at Café Louis. First, though, came the making of the sandwich. Dad constantly reminded me about the mustard. “Good mustard makes all the difference,” he said. “Are you listening, bubbeleh? Pay attention to the little things in life. Like mustard.”

I can hear his voice. Booming, with the Yiddish lilt of his parents. He looked like Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof. The beard. The belly. Jay Louis is larger than life. Was. He died two years ago.

The Diva

“Where are you going?” the cabdriver asks again.

“Il Ristorante,” I tell him. “On the Avenue of the Arts.”

It’s just after four o’clock. I have thirty minutes before my meeting. Just enough time for some smoochies.

You have time for more than that, the diva says. It’s been two weeks. I have needs. Wants. Demands. Take Nick into his office and have at it. The diva groans.

Luckily, only I can hear her. Not that I’m embarrassed to talk to her. Men have been talking to their penises for eons. Why can’t I talk to my diva?

The First Lady

The cabbie pulls onto the Avenue of the Arts while I look at my face in my compact.

I need a WASAP. Waxing as soon as possible. With all the traveling I’ve done over the years, I should have had a waxer in every major city. The rest of me is presentable. Under my white trench coat, I’m wearing my flight suit. Black pencil skirt, white blouse, black pumps. The rest of my wardrobe is more colorful. I like pinks, lavenders, and soft greens. But in my flight suit, I can go from plane to meeting to dinner.

“Traffic,” the cabdriver says as he gestures to the cars trying to merge onto Broad Street. When the boulevard twinkles with theater, music, and fine dining, I think of it as the Avenue of the Arts. When it is constipated with cars, I think of it as Broad Street. Same road. Different attitudes.

“I’ll get out here,” I tell the cabbie. It will be faster to walk the few blocks to Il Ristorante. The cabdriver pulls to the curb and takes my suitcase from his trunk.

“Come on, Olga,” I tell my suitcase as I roll her down the street. If Olga could speak, she would no doubt complain. “Why are you hauling my kishkes all over town?” Yes, Olga the Suitcase would speak Yiddish. She was a gift from my father.

As Olga and I roll down Broad Street, a warm May breeze nuzzles my face and refreshes my spirit. Then I spy Il Ristorante and smile at the dinner crowd forming. Should I have called first? Too late now. I’ll surprise Nick.

“Welcome home, Mimi!” Gina the hostess says with delight. “Let me find Nick for you.”

“You’re busy,” I tell Gina. Dinner starts in forty-five minutes, and everyone has something to do. “I’ll find him.”

Civilians are not allowed to roam unattended through a restaurant, but I am the First Lady of Il Ristorante. Nick is the front man, but I influenced everything from the decor to the menu.