I had recently moved back to Spain where I purchased a small but stately apartment above one of Madrid's finest Michelin-starred restaurants in the Plaza Mayor.
One afternoon, as I was moving a few boxes to my new apartment, a well-dressed young man accidentally kicked one of the boxes that was on the floor holding the door of the apartment building open.
I immediately heard the sound of broken china plates and opened the box to find my great-grandmother's late 19th century English tea set in pieces.
The young man felt terrible and was apologizing profusely, to which I softened his culpability by saying I shouldn't have left the box with its fragile contents in such a precarious place.
Nevertheless, the young man said that his father was the owner of the restaurant and he removed a small notebook from his inside jacket pocket and wrote a note saying that I was welcome to the restaurant with forty guests with his his compliments as compensation for his clumsiness.
I eventually booked a reservation and invited forty people—actors, crew, investors, family and close friends—who were working on a short film I was directing, though I had no intention of not paying for the meal despite the generosity of the clumsy young man. In fact, my plan B, should the establishment insist on my not paying, was to leave an exorbitant tip to the wait staff who served my party.
It was the night of the dinner and before going to the restaurant I wanted to go to my apartment to have a shower.
When I got back from the studio, I found my family had arrived from America and were busy getting ready for dinner.
Needing to use the toilet, I quickly discovered that both bathrooms were in use, one by mother and the other by my eldest daughter; both of whom were showering.
I knocked on the door where my daughter was showering and yelled to her to remember to check next before showering and that only one shower at a time was preferred to avoid a situation such as the one I found myself in having to go urgently to the toilet!
My mother finally finished her shower and I ran into the bathroom and sat down on the toilet to pee as I was exhausted from a full day of shooting and took advantage of the only free time I'd had all day to rest my eyes and collect myself before dinner.
Just then, my father barged into the bathroom to get some shampoo.
He saw me sitting on the toilet and walked out with the shampoo both unfazed and unapologetic for barging in on my privacy.
My guests thoroughly enjoyed the meal, though I was somewhat dissatisfied with the quality of my dinner, the chicken being undercooked and the odd but interesting side dish of french-friend chicken skins being cold and soggy.
Seeing I hadn't finished all the food on my plate, the waitress asked if I didn't enjoy my meal.
I told her I had a few complaints but I wasn't bothered seeing how my guests were very content with everything.
A few minutes later, an impeccably-dressed older gentleman with a full head of silvery-white hair came to the table and asked who the host was.
Directed to me, the man sat down in the empty chair next to mine and introduced himself as the owner of the restaurant.
He began by apologizing for the incident with his son and offered to pay to replace the tea set for which I immediately told him my insurance had already paid for.
He then asked me what I did not like about my meal and I told him that while everything was above par, I was—as an American—accustomed to my food being four degrees Fahrenheit warmer than how food is generally served in Europe.
Nodding his head, he said he understood and apologized for the inconvenience.
He then lit a cigarette and I quickly recoiled and moved my chair back a bit as to not get a whiff of the smoke the man had exhaled in my direction.
The man apologized and noted that I was obviously a non-smoker and asked if I would like him to put out the cigarette.
I replied by saying, "Es su casa."
He removed a notebook from his suit pocket in the same fashion his son had done and scribbled something on a piece of paper and handed it to me.
He said, "this is for any inconvenience I might have caused, please be my guest with forty of your friends, I personally guarantee your next visit will be without incident."
Then I woke up.