Geneva. Home to the Jet d’Eau, many international agencies like the Red Cross or the World Health Organization and international diplomats. In fact, Ben’s parents met there while they were both working at the Red Cross during the second World War.
Ben was working in Geneva when he was studying at the university, he would stay there the whole week and come home on the weekends. Once his parents decided they would visit him during the week and invited me to go with them. So they packed me up in the car and off we went. When we got to Geneva they showed me all the sights (I’m not sure if this is a Swiss thing or a family thing, but these people are knowledgeable and born tourist guides!). Towards lunchtime we picked Ben up from work and they said they would like to take us out to lunch. How sweet.
We walked to the lake and I thought ‘Oh, lunch on a boat ride, neat.’ But this wasn’t a restaurant on a moving boat, the boat stayed put and it would be a lot more than just ‘neat’. The magic started the moment we walked through the door. We were greeted by the maître d’, Ben’s father told him our name and he said ‘Your table is this way.’ Oh my, they had made reservations. While walking to the table I was taking in what I saw. I thought, what film have I just been dropped into? I had never been anywhere like that before (or since, for that matter), the place looked so high class, it even smelled high class; I was amazed, astonished, dazed and definitely underdressed. This was high society, where diplomats rub cheeks and Sheiks meet to exchange whatever it is they exchange (oil recipes?). It certainly wouldn’t have surprised me to see a movie star or two.
We were seated. Yes, the waiter held the chair out for the women; you sit down then pop up just a bit so they can push the chair in, sit down again and your are good to go. The gloved waiter opened and then handed each of us a leather menu. While we were looking at what we wanted to order we were brought a variety of rolls with fresh butter.
When I’m invited to dinner, out of courtesy to the person paying, I try not to order the most expensive thing on the menu, I usually go for the mid to lower priced things. This tactic was impossible to do here. Glancing over at Ben’s menu I saw that we had gotten two different menus – his had prices and mine didn’t! The waiter was hovering nearby so I certainly wasn’t going to start a conversation about prices. I just asked Ben what he thought was good and he made a suggestion. I trusted his judgment and we all ordered. While we were waiting for our 5 course meals to come we nibbled on the bread with butter, sipped the wine that the men had ordered and tasted and talked about what we had seen that morning.
Before long, another group of four people were ushered in and seated as we had been earlier. They were right within eyeshot of me so I didn’t have to turn my head and be impolite at all to see them. They were served Coke as if it were wine, except they weren’t shown the label and didn’t test drink it. They also had their personal waiter hovering over them. Oh. My. Word. They were all 8 or 9 year olds! Well behaved to say the least, but still, children. What in the world were they doing in a place like this? What kind of lunch money did their parents give them? Obviously high-society-in-training.
Our meal was absolutely fabulous. The personal, hovering waiter was a little unnerving in the beginning but I suppose I could get used to it if I had to.