Winter had moved haltingly into Spring.  Hyacinths and daffodils were pushing up into the watery sunlight—almost reluctantly, it seemed to Linc Ford, as if they simply couldn’t face one more annual incarnation of floral rapture.  It gets more and more anomalous, Linc decided, to be beautiful in an increasingly indifferent world.  For him, even the new bulbs seemed a little abashed at being harbingers of the bright new season.
     It was Austin-Healey time again—Linc didn’t like to drive the car through the salt-encrusted winter streets—and now his heart leaped up along with the perfect little red vintage sports car, as it came thrashing up the ramp of the underground garage of the condo he shared with fashion model Coal Blackstone.  The car, now having caught the scent of the spring air—at least this is how Linc saw it, given, as he was, to anthropomorphizing everything—sprang out into the street, made an exuberant left turn, and careered along King Street West, heading (the car having correctly read Linc’s mind) up to Bloor Street for a Greek coffee and a heavy slab of custard in phyllo pastry at the Athens-Astoria restaurant.
     He hadn’t seen Peter, the restaurant’s owner, for months.  For way too many months.  He loved visiting with him.  Whatever was bothering him or worrying him was always salved and smoothed away by his old friend’s endless tales of his days as a cook on a Greek freighter, all of them accompanied by lashings of Peter’s thick, rich coffee and slices of his soothing, anodyne custard pastry.  Mother’s milk! thought Linc. 
     He parked the Austin-Healey in the only place he could find—a block away—and strolled over to Peter’s.  He noticed that the window box running along beneath the big front window was already sparsely planted with perky yellow marigolds.  Peter always said he liked their spicy, acrid smell.
     The genial marigold man saw him and met him in the doorway. 
     “You’re being a bit stingy with the marigolds, aren’t you Peter?”  Peter grinned.
     “They bush out!” he assured Linc.  “Come on in, I make new coffee.”
     They passed the steam tables, already rich—though it was only late morning—with the day’s offerings.  There was a huge pan of moussaka—golden brown béchamel sauce on top, richly juicy underneath, down where the sliced potatoes, slices of eggplant and layers of ground lamb resided.  Next to it was an equally large pan of pastitsio—more toasty, semi-blackened bechamel, under which lurked layers of pasta and spicy ground beef.  And there were the usual—delectable—outrigger dishes: green beans in tomato sauce, Peter’s roasted potatoes, glistening in olive oil and tufted with sprigs of rosemary and oregano, fava beans stewed with tomatoes and onions, and the inevitable platter of dolmades---which Peter made better than anyone.  Linc hadn’t felt hungry when he got to Peter’s, but now he was ravenous.
     “So how’s Coal?”
     Linc ceased his lascivious reverie about Peter’s votive food long enough to convey to him that Coal was fine.
     “Still beautiful?” Peter asked puckishly.  Linc nodded.
     “That‘s good,” said Peter, filling two cups with strong Greek coffee.  “You what custard?”
     “You know what I’d really like,” Peter replied, “even if it’s a bit early for it?  A big helping of pastitsio, with some green beans!”
     Peter beamed. 
     “Not too early!  It is never too early for pastitsio.  Never  too late either!”  He went around to the other side of the steam table and sawed off a big square of the stuff, sliding it onto a warm plate.  Then he shovelled a hearty serving of beans in tomato sauce onto the plate beside the caked pasta, and set it heavily before Linc.
     “Kali oreksi!” said Peter proudly.
     “Which means?” asked Linc, cutting into his pistatsio.
     “Linc, you going to have to learn some Greek.  It means ‘hearty appetite,’ ‘enjoy your food,’ you know….” 
     “Like bon appetite,” said Linc, forking some beans.
     Peter sighed heavily.
     “I guess so, Linc.  But what you say sounds so weak.  So untrue.  Like you don’t want anybody to enjoy anything.  There’s no passion in these words.”
     “It’s French,” said Linc, taking a second forkful of pastitsio and thinking that he’d never eaten more delicious food in his entire life.
    “Oh well,” said Peter, taking as sip of his coffee, “that explains it.”
     “But,” Peter added, “I think you didn’t come to see me just for the pastitsio?”
     “That’s true,” Linc admitted, “though the pastitsio was uppermost in my mind.”
    “And so what is lowermost in your mind?” Peter asked him.
    Linc swallowed some thick coffee and returned his cup to its saucer.
    “I’ll tell you,” he said.