He saw me laughing and said in an aside, "It's only on the armrest, il n'y a rien de grave!"
"Soupe de potiron would be worse," I said.
When he came back to our table, I told him that once when I was a student, working in a fancy restaurant, I knocked over the entire pastry cart my first day at work. "Eclairs au chocolat, napoléons, cheesecake, fraises à la crème, all over the floor!"
En surenchère, the waiter confided, "My first job was in a Michelin three-star restaurant. One day, we were so busy, we were running everywhere. The maître d'hôtel was after us. I had so many plates, they were coming up my arm. I had to put one on the floor and hide it with a tablecloth." He smiled triumphantly. "And I worked there for three more years!"
In France, it's traditional to have lunch on Sunday with your grandmother. We have this tradition in Louisiana also. The restaurant was full of families, grey-haired ladies, most with perfect red-nailed manicures, surrounded by children and grandchildren. It always makes me miss my family terribly.
[The plate in the photo is from a series of waiters by Guy Buffet for Williams-Sonoma. This one is called "The Poor Tip." Someone gave them to me because the waiters are French. But of course, I can't use them here.]