The Big Ragoo

Mr. Mekka is having some very important guests celebrating an anniversary tonight, and everything better be perfect for them!"

Working as a waiter for ten years, I had met a few celebrities—none more memorable than Eddie Mekka, the Big Ragoo of _Laverne and Shirley_ fame. He was working dinner theater at our hotel, and I happened to serve him almost every day.

You get to know people pretty quickly. He found out from someone that our wedding anniversary was fast approaching, and I remember him asking me what my wife and I would be doing. We were quite poor at the time (didn't tell him that!), and so we would probably just be staying home with the kids. The next day, he slipped me an envelope with tickets to his show and a card asking if we would be his special guests on Friday night.

Friday night came, and as we were getting ready our assistant manager called me at home to ask if the restaurant manager or hotel manager knew that Mr. Mekka had given us tickets for that night. I didn't know but was concerned that there was some kind of problem with our going. "No," she said. "It's just that he [our boss, who also oversaw the dinner theater] was running around like a maniac because 'Mr. Mekka is having some very important guests celebrating an anniversary tonight, and everything _better_ be perfect for them!'" (He was not a very nice boss or a very nice man, and I could imagine him making life pretty hard for everyone.)

My wife and I showed up and, as directed by Mr. Mekka, informed the hostess that we were his guests. I knew the girl, and she grinned like there was no tomorrow! She escorted us to our table—a table for two, front and center, with flowers and champagne waiting.

A few minutes before the show started and the lights went down, my boss came whizzing by and stopped dead in his tracks when he saw us sitting at Mr. Mekka's table. His jaw hit the floor. To his credit, he let it faze him only for a moment before recovering his composure and asking us if everything was to our satisfaction. It certainly was!

I never shared all of the details of the night with Mr. Mekka, but I made sure to thank him for the wonderful show and for helping me give my wife an anniversary we would both never forget!


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