This story takes place, as so many do, at Tapatia on Richmond. But it starts at my grandmother’s house in Southampton, where I was living one summer during college. Waiting for my friend Sergio to come pick me up so we could go eat tortas, I was lying in my bed, reading, when he pulled up. I remember feeling super-cute when I ran out and jumped in his car.
This was back when Tapatia was half its size and didn’t serve margaritas, only beer (an untenable situation that was rectified a few years later). We parked; I followed Sergio inside; we sat down at a table in the middle of the restaurant; chips and salsa arrived. I remember that there was a merengue song playing on the jukebox, because I was doing a little happy dance right in my chair when a bemused-looking waitress approached me, tapping me on the shoulder.
“Excuse me,” she said.
“Yes?” I replied.
“You have a bra.”
I’ll admit I rolled my eyes a little. So I had a strap showing; big deal.
“Thanks,” I said, adjusting both sides and then turning back to Sergio.
“No,” she said. “You have a bra.” This time, she tapped me on the back.
It was then that I reached over my shoulder and felt it. What in the hell? The bra was hanging from the back of my black top, somehow hooked to the collar. I managed to remove it, staring at the flimsily sheer garment in horror as I held it in my hand. Making things infinitely worse, somehow, was the fact that it was turquoise.
So, to recap: I’d walked into Tapatia with a turquoise bra dangling down my back, and spent a good few minutes having a rollicking time—no doubt, to the entire restaurant’s amusement—before she’d taken pity on me. But take pity she did. I dropped it in my bag and thanked her.
The merengue was still playing. For a moment my spirits remained deflated. Soon, though, Sergio and I found ourselves animatedly dissecting the situation. How had the bra latched onto me in the first place? How had he not noticed? It must have been in my bed at my grandmother’s house. And I had walked behind him into the restaurant, we realized, starting to cackle. (What else was I going to do? Cry?)
I’ve often thought about the waitress who performed that simple act of kindness, who saw a woman in need and helped her out. In her own small way, she made Houston a better place, one that, after her deed, surely had zero citizens walking around unknowingly festooned with extraneous lingerie.
There are many big things Houstonians can—really, must—do to make this city a better place, and we’ve showcased dozens and dozens of them in this month’s cover feature. But there are small things, too, moments of humanity between fellow citizens, whose importance we must never discount. Houston wouldn’t be Houston without them.