Revisiting: The Guy With the Heart Pin.
When I was in college, I met my mother for dinner at a town halfway between her office and my dorm. We decided on an Italian chain restaurant and asked to be put in a corner booth.
"We're kind of loud," my mom said.
So we settled into our table and ordered our food from the waiter, who was wearing a white button down shirt, a red vest, and a black apron. (And pants. Don't get all crazy on me.) After our waiter walked away to place our order with the kitchen, my mother noticed that a bus boy, clearing tables, was wearing a bright red heart pin on his collar.
"Mom, do you know what that pin means?"
I always notice pins, ribbons, and other awareness jewelry.
"No. Our waiter didn't have one. Ask him, he's right over there."
So I leaned across our table a bit and said, pretty loudly: "Excuse me? Why do you have that heart on?"
The tables closest to us stopped chattering and turned to stare, a shared incredulous look on their faces. But I had no idea what was wrong. So I cleared my throat and tried again, only louder this time.
"I'm sorry - excuse me? Why do you have a heart on?"
The busboy stopped dead in his tracks and a bright red blush took over his cheeks. "Um, what?"
(Oh. My. God. What did I just say?!)
"No, no - oh my God. I said a heart. Like the heart pin on your shirt. The heart. Not hard. No, no ..." I'm crying, laughing, and trying to forget that the rest of the dining room heard something decidedly less appropriate than "heart on." He shuffled over, about to burst into flames.
"Um, I'm wearing this pin because I made a donation from my check to the Heart Association and they gave me a pin to wear on my uniform to show what I did and okay? That's why I have a heart on. A heart PIN on." The words came out of him in one steady stream, like a firehose.
"I am so sorry!!!" I buried my face in my hands, laughing. My mother was almost out of her chair, cackling, "You're asking him about a heart, not his manhood! Not his manhood!"
The dining room errupted into laughter, old ladies dabbing tears from their eyes.
The busboy shuffled off to call his therapist.
And dinner arrived shortly thereafter, with a seven waiter escort because they wanted to see the perverted patron who accosted the busboy. I could barely whisper a word, I was so embarrassed.
"I said HEART."
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Originally published here: The Guy With the Heart Pin.