Tonight we went out to dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, Diavola in Geyserville. Sabrina, Ripley and I were meeting my aunt and uncle, who were driving up from Santa Rosa. It was their first time at the restaurant.
Our good friend Wendy Dayton introduced us to Diavola about a year ago, and it has become a regular haunt. They have killer thin-crust pizza, plus great pasta, and all of their ingredients are local, farm-fresh, and sustainably-raised. It is a cheery, bustling place, always busy particularly on the weekends. In warmer months, we eat out back on their cozy patio.
The nice thing about becoming a regular is making connections. Brooke has waited on us often enough to know that Sabrina’s favorite is the Dictator Pizza (so named because it has ingredients like kimchi/North Korea, jalapeños/Latin America, etc.), that I special order the pasta dishes to make them vegetarian, and that we share a single chocolate gelato for dessert.
But beyond that, from the very first time we walked through the doors of Diavola, the entire staff has been welcoming and attentive to Ripley. They all seem simply pleased as all get-out that she has come to dine with us. They do not cross the line, giving unwanted attention by asking to pet her, which would be a distraction. But they always make sure she is OK. One small gesture that happens at every visit – someone appears with water for her. The container varies. Sometimes it has been brought out in a plastic container, other times in a takeout box. But always, unprompted, someone brings Ripley water.
Tonight was no exception. Soon after we sat down, a young man arrived and set down a wax-lined cardboard takeout box full of water on the floor where Ripley was lying at my feet. I knew that she probably wouldn’t drink from it; I bring water with me, and make sure that she is hydrated whenever we go anywhere, usually stopping for a drink as we get in or out of the car. But it is such a beautiful gesture, that I appreciate it nonetheless. I thanked him, and forgot about it.
We sat for a long time through dinner, as we hadn’t seen my aunt and uncle in several months, and had lots of catching up to do. Finally, after two and a half hours, when we were among the last people in the restaurant, we stood up and readied to leave. As I moved out from my bench seat, I bent over to pick up the water dish to place it on the table, so no one would accidentally step in it. Glancing down at the floor, I did a double take. A heart? Was that a shadow? No. Some water had leaked through, and left a perfectly shaped heart on the floor.
I looked up into the box, now placed on the table. There it was — the heart, a darker shape inside of the box.
A little love for Ripley, from the wonderful folks at Diavola.