The first nightThe first day I was in Fort Lauderdale alone and I went out to run at night — around ten o'clock. After I had run about two and a half miles, I became quite hungry. I had some money, so I went into a restaurant. But they said to me, "No, you can't eat here. You are not properly dressed." I was wearing tennis shorts which came right to my knees. They were quite modest — not the thin, Bill Rodgers running shorts.
So I left and went to another place. There was a guard sitting at the door. He said to me, "Do you want to eat?"
I said, "Yes, I am very hungry."
He said, "You can go inside and eat."
I went in, but here also, one of the waiters saw how I was dressed and said to me, "This is not the place for you. Here you can't eat." They also asked me to leave.
There was a place beside the main restaurant, like an adjacent dining hall. Nobody was there. I asked, "Can I not eat there?"
They said, "No, you are not properly dressed. You have no tie, no suit, nothing."
Two places had thrown me out. Now it was like a challenge to find a restaurant. Otherwise, I wouldn't care. But since I live in America, American blood has entered into me, and Americans love challenges. So I was running and running. Finally, around eleven o'clock, I came to an Italian restaurant. I saw a menu on the window, and I was reading it with the hope that I would be able to go inside. Somebody came out and looked at me. I said to that person, "I want to speak to the manager."
The man said, "I'm the manager."
I asked, "Can I go inside and eat?"
The manager asked, "What is wrong with you? You have no money?"
I said, "I have money, but I am not properly dressed."
So I went inside. Except for one table, all the tables were occupied. I ordered eggplant, as usual. Beside me there was a group of people at a big table: an airline pilot and his wife, the co-pilot and his wife and their parents. The wives were sitting on the right side of the husbands and next to them were the parents. It was one of the fathers' birthday and they were all very happy. They had ordered a cake, which one of the waiters brought, and they were about to sing "Happy Birthday."
Quite unexpectedly, a middle-aged couple came over to them. The couple had been sitting at another table. The co-pilot stood up and shook hands with the man and kissed the woman. O God, the co-pilot's wife became furious. She stood up and walked out of the restaurant. Her husband's father and some others went to bring her back. At the table, some were laughing, some were serious, some were shocked. Even people from other tables came over to see what the commotion was. But the co-pilot just said, "Let us sing 'Happy Birthday'."
My bill was for seven dollars and something. So I put a ten dollar bill on the table and left. I was not enjoying my eggplant. "Next," I thought, "will come a fight. Before bottles fly in the air — bottle-bullets — let me leave this place."