I sit in one of the cruise ship’s dining rooms, gazing through its floor-to-ceiling windows.
The sea is calm; I’m famished.
My gut yells, “I’m hungry! Where is that filet mignon you promised me?”
My brain asks, “When is this one-of-a-kind dining experience going to begin?”
But all that rests in front of my eyes for my stomach and brain to see is an empty white porcelain plate, resting on a shiny satin tablecloth, next to a folded red cloth napkin and some ornate silverware.
“Relax boys, the little chef is coming.
Remember, we’re in this fancy-schmancy restaurant.
Cooking gourmet food takes time.
Le Petit Chef promises you one hell of a dining experience.”
Then the little one-inch chef appears on my plate. “Ladies and gentleman, tonight you are about to see a spectacular 3d film presentation performed on this table and this plate by my family and myself. It’s a fusion of entertainment and cuisine. It’s an immersion of theater & dining combined.”
I watch in amazement as this tiny animated French chef and his family gather the greens from their garden and the ingredients from the kitchen, prep the food and cook the meal in front of my eyes.
And then my waiters appears and serves the actual meal I just watched Le Petit Chef prepare on my porcelain plate.
Wow, I am moved.
What a wonderful world we live in.
What an amazing experience.
I close my eyes, as if in prayer and when I reopen them a new figure appears on my plate.
I immediately recognize the face that covers the surface of the plate.
It’s Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin.
And written under his chin—appearing as if he wears a gold necklace—are the words: “Le Petit Dictateur.”
A little one-inch Putin appears on my plate. He speaks with a heavy Russian accent and says, “Ladies and gentleman, today you are about to see what my military is doing to Ukraine.”
My eyes are transfixed on Putin.
I dare not blink, fearing that these images will disappear.
Vlad continues, “I’m in the city of Bucha.”
He points and says, “See these civilians lying on the ground with their hands tied behind their backs and with bullet holes in their heads, they are casualties of war. They obviously were trying to escape, so my soldiers had to shoot them. And look at these blown up Ukraine babies, lying next to their dead mothers and grandparents. They were in the wrong place at the wrong time. In the military, we call them collateral damage. They knew we were in state of war. They should have fled their country.”
As Putin walks past some mass graves filled with Ukrainian bodies, I feel like vomiting but hear him say, “These neo-Nazi Ukrainian hoodlums should have never antagonized the Russia empire.”
“Always remember that I’m such a benevolent leader, because I have instructed my army and navy and my air force to never aim our bombs or our missiles or our mortars on innocent people.”
As Vlad talks, I study the borders of my plate.
Next to bombed out hospitals, daycare centers and nursing homes, I see hundreds of rotting and bloated bodies.
I notice “Big Brother” like posters glued to Bucha’s brick walls. On each poster appears Putin’s stern face. And beneath his chin in blood red ink the words,
“You are now our slaves. Any resistance to our presence shall lead to your death.”
I cringe, tear up and realize I am listening to a demented, little sadistic dictator.
I shut my wet eyes, put my hand on my head and pray for Ukraine.
“G-d, may this war end quickly and may Russia pay the price for the evil that Vladimir Putin has wrought on the Ukrainian people.”
I open my eyes and see an empty white plate.
Putin has disappeared.
I look out the window at the calm sea.
And wonder, “Will my prayer be answered.”