the things we carry

She dropped the Branzino on the goddamn floor. Only, my father and his wife Carol didn’t know it yet. They were dining with another couple, moving forks of iceberg lettuce into their carnivorous mouths, waiting. “You know, the ladies, they ordered the fish.” If I were there, I’d have ordered the lamb chops, but this was Carol, a woman who rarely strays from dry salmon, “no oil, no butter.” No flavor. Lemon is her good time. The Branzino was for two; the ladies decided to go for it. Living. Right there on the edge.

Three glasses of wine later, and the breadbasket was left only with Melba toast. A lone carrot sat in a pool of balsamic. They needed to be fed. Even Carol, a woman who can survive on gossip. On cue their young waitress arrived, red-faced and silent. She was holding her breath. As if someone turned a lever, when she began to speak, words became sobs. She really couldn’t breathe. No one understood.

“The fish. I–the tray. It’s on the floor. I can’t believe.” Then she wiped her snot with the back of her hand. “I am so sorry. I can’t believe.” You’d think her mother just backed over the family pet.

“Hey it’s okay. Relax. Just try breathing. It’s really okay.” My father’s voice is soothing and always calms me. Whenever I’m panicked, he reminds me to breathe. Pay attention to my shoulders. I only hoped he didn’t try to get the waitress to start in with the meditation. When I meditate, I imagine a school of fish. This would be a bad tactic. “Please, just relax. It’s really not the end of the world.” This wasn’t helping. She was now sobbing uncontrollably. The manager was walking over. “Please, stop trying to talk and just breathe.” I imagine he began to count or tell her to breathe in with him, using his hands as if he were strumming a harp.

“Here, if it makes you feel any better, I did the same exact thing once.” I imagine he pulled a chair over to the table and made her sit down and have a sip of water. I hate when people do this, offer up a glass of water, as if my sobbing was quickly en route to dehydration. It doesn’t calm me down. It’s a sham. His story wasn’t.

“There I was in the middle of a snowstorm with my friend Herby. We’d just walked a mile, [uphill, in the snow,] to arrive at a series of closed restaurants. Sure enough, at our fourth try we found one that was open, used the only money we had, and bought a pizza. Then, on my walk home, would you believe I tripped and dropped the damn pizza into the snow? We didn’t have the five second rule back then either.” She cracked a smile. “Listen, the point is, I had no idea why that had to happen to me. Maybe that happened, over twenty years ago, just so I could share the story with you now, so you realize it’s not the end of the world. People make mistakes, and one day, I promise you, you won’t forget this, you’ll tell your grandchildren about the time you dropped a tray of fish. And it will be a story. And maybe they’ll learn something from it. The point is, this is all just part of life, and the accidents are what we end up remembering. Because maybe they really aren’t accidents. Either way, you should know it’s all going to be okay.”

I love my father because he’s imperfectly perfect.




  1. What a great guy. I agree with your dad — things have a way of being cyclical, or karmaesque (I, too, make up words).

    Someday in the future, the young waitress starring in your post will be at some fine dining establishment, and her neophyte server will spill the wine, or drop the salad, or.. well, you get the idea.

  2. accidents not being accidents?

    it would be nice if there really were a reason behind bad or unfortunate things that happen. unfortunately the cynic in me can't quite believe accidents aren't always just that. thanks for suggesting otherwise.

  3. in your space "100 things about me", you wrote "I don’t like pizza. I’ll eat it, but I don’t like it."…. Come in Italy… and you'll love it!!

  4. It is really an interesting thing to read. i have started to read your blogs regularly as well as reading your old write ups too. I liked your frankness.

  5. yep…..firstly they offer you a glass of water, then they start talking about their past experiences and how you should feel better since it happens to everybody sooner or later….and so on.
    I absolutely hate it!!!!!
    Let me be, I know it's not the end of the world, just let it go away from my system naturally, don't try and force it out!!!!

  6. Why should I feel better knowing someone did the same mistake? The life learning process is too personal to be shared, every day is unique and every one is unique. Your dad is great, but maybe it would be better if he asked the girl when she could bring another fish!
    This is my first time on your blog, I really like it. Good luck!


  7. Your father sounds like a very kind and compassionate person. I really enjoy reading your blog because your writing is so honest, which is rare. I'm a college student so I'm not exactly an expert, but your writing is so refreshing!

  8. Hi, I'm Cristina from Italy. Yesterday an important italian newspaper wrote about your blog. I found it pretty cool so I guess you're gonna have a lot of new italian supporters!
    Ciao ciao!

  9. In the US you care about quite stupid things (I don't mean this post, exactly). Please, take a look around the world. Your blog is first world entertainment, with first world worries. Like Sex and the city. It's nice for a while but not for everyday, it becomes empty. Like culture delivered by Hollywood.

  10. Good Job, Stephi! Maybe Italians will come to understand (tolerate?) us Americans better through your writings. You may be a one-woman diplomatic strategy!

  11. i agree with some of the other posts, sometimes we worry about the smallest of things. open up another bottle of wine while you are waiting for your dinner to come. i am also a first visitor to this site and message board.

  12. i agree sometimes we worry about to much about little things. order another bottle of wine and relax

  13. Hi,
    I found your blog yesterday, reading newspaper.
    And I'm just loving it.
    Sorry for my rough english :)

  14. I was just going to tell you lemon is my mom's good time too, but now I have to say these are the greatest comments I have ever read. It depends from the night, guy!

  15. I tend to dissagree with the people who make comments about you being like Carrie from Sex and the City or those who say your blog isn't worthwhile because it doesn't deal with current events and world politics. To me, reading your blog is like reading a good book. Your writing is beautiful and your stories are heartfelt. They bring back my own fond memories, make me appreciate things I tend to overlook, and give me a break from how chaotic this world can truely be.Thanks for the breath of fresh air. Can't wait for your book to come out!

    – Sophie

  16. I read about you in Sunday Styles and now I am hooked. Your honesty is so refreshing…and funny! How about "Greek Triumph"?

  17. only english….?it's no possible for a star woman…j don't speak english… sorry :-) by by

  18. What could be more important than a daughter acknowledging a moment of love for her father? Small moments of people's lives, the angst, the day-to-day struggle, captured the way Stephanie captures them are a thing of beauty and just as vital to this world as debating foreign policy and supreme court nominations. It keeps us human.
    Also, re: accidents. I think that moments like this can wake us up to things, to little lessons and therefore are little gifts from the universe.

  19. Today you have a new special friends from Italy.
    You see?
    Have a good day.
    Ciao Rita from Rome

  20. To the haters — why bother posting a comment at all? It only belies your jealousy and/or infatuation.

    To Stephanie — read about your blog in the NYT. Your writing is very good, especially considering it is just "blogging" and not edited and re-edited book writing. Congratulations on your deals — you are an inspiration to all us bloggers.

  21. Yikes…my comments are gonna get lost in the mix here now! Abondanza!!! Does anyone remember the name of The Count's cat on Sesame Street?

  22. Hiya Stephanie,
    very nice blog – I'm a blogger too!
    If they call you Carrie Bradshow, just reply them: Thank you! –
    This is what happens to me when I ask a Cosmopolitan… Barman sais: "Are you Carrie or Samantha?"…It depends from the night, guy! ;)

  23. Lemon might be your good time too in a few years when your cholesterol level starts rising like the temperature in New York today. Damn I miss butter and oil and all sorts of other "bad" things.

  24. Hi Stephanie! I'm sorry my comment isn't related to this posting, but I just wanted to say that I read about you in the New York Times and I think your blog is very fun to read!! I can't wait for your book to come out. I'm in college but I think you live the Sex and the City life. Ahhhh your pics are also awesome, and you're hot! :)

  25. Are you the world blog star?:-)I read about you in the "Corriere della Sera"(italian news paper) and I think to visite your blog! It's very nice!
    I am italian girl, I'm 25 years old…
    I don't love my father, because he is so perfectly imperfect…;-)
    Ciao e buona fortuna!!!
    Bye and good luck!!!

  26. Someone called this: "First World Worries"–You know what is my biggest worry? –That this is the only blog in the entire world and only this type of concern is addressed. Reality check #1: it is not(so I am not at all worried), and the rest 2000 blog or so that made into the top 1% are of saving the world content. Reality check #2: people all have worries, including the first worlders that are equally human beings. So be happy with your freedom of choice among all blogs if you think some worries are more important than others, and just try to get the most out of what is offered here if you CHOOSE to be here just once: simplicity, honesty, and real emotions. P.S. I am a third-worlder, if you wish to know.

  27. I don't think I can keep up with the volume of comments anymore. It's just too much. Enjoy your fame, Stephanie. I'm super happy for you.

  28. "accidents not being accidents"….I believe that. Everything happens for a reason. Nice post. Nice blog..

  29. it is really interesting that stephaine did a comment on comments. i am eagarly waiting for your next write-up. As I am your new reader, i am watching all these things very interestingly.

  30. I always wanted to have a Dad like that. Yours offered you water, mine would've just yelled.

    But I do find that when I'm crying and people offer me water I just manage to snot myself up in it.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.