He was one of my best friends as an undergraduate at George Washington University. When I returned to the area from graduate school in the mid-1970s, he offered me his couch as a place to stay until I got my apartment, then helped me move in.

To thank him, I took him to dinner at his favorite restaurant in Georgetown. We were escorted to a seat by the door. As our meal was being served, my friend pointed out a black couple who had just walked in.

"Watch this," my friend said to me conspiratorially.

The host invited the black couple to stand in a corner by the bar until a table became available. Shortly thereafter, a group of white people walked in and were instantly seated at a nice table. This happened repeatedly until the black man, who looked agitated, approached the host. Clearly displeased with the host's response, the couple stormed out of the restaurant.

I looked at my friend, puzzled. "Do they not serve black people in here?" I asked.

"No," my friend replied, then leaned back and took a long drag on his cigarette. "That's what I like about this place."

I'm embarrassed to tell you that I didn't make a scene, and we finished dinner. But we never spoke again after that night.

James Hickel, Ashburn

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