"You think it's… nice?"
Julie did not want to have this conversation.
"Did you design it yourself?" she asked.
Mr. Hogan seemed to be flattered.
"No. Really? Myself. Oh no. I hired the best for this. Everything. Architects, food designers, marketing experts. How do you like the logo?"
"It's all so—so different. From that pipeline thing."
"That's it. Exactly. Completely different. That's the idea."
Something told her she shouldn't have said that.
"Yes. After that pipeline deal fell through I was furious. I was determined to put it back together. Determined to get revenge. When Tim told me about your mother's restaurant, I wasn't even interested. Then something wonderful happened."
She knew it. This was going to be a long story.
"I'd scheduled a little dinner party months ago. I didn't have the energy to cancel it, so I went ahead. At first, I didn't have much enthusiasm about it, so I kept the plans simple. But as I began to cook, something strange began to happen.
I found myself lost in the task.
I was stirring the soup, or kneading the bread, and the whole world seemed to boil down to—to stirring the soup, or kneading the bread. I was completely there. I was at peace with the world. The simplest act—chopping a vegetable—was so intensely beautiful it made me cry."
He glanced up at Julie.
"Did you know that if you put a little bit of onion on your head when you're chopping it, it keeps you from crying?"
"The dinner that evening was incredible. Everything was effortless and perfect. The meal—I served quail in rose-petal sauce—the conversation, the sense of fellowship that filled us all… I'd never had an evening like that.
"And after dinner my friend Sam proposed a toast to me—to me. You know what he said?"