of ordering a plain salad with dressing on the side, or
One of the benefits of suffering rejection is telling all about it in writing.
That, or going out to eat, which is what I did in downtown Seattle with my best friend Jon this past weekend. We enjoyed ourselves trying to find an open quaint little hippie haven of a hangout like SpeakEasy used to be (back in the late ‘90s heyday of Internet cafes, mediocre artwork hung on the walls around beat-up thrift store couches, and bad ‘70s music piped in), or a reasonable facsimile thereof that serves quality vegan/vegetarian for him and anything involving quirky fusion appetizer blends for me.
We found crave on 12th Avenue in Capitol Hill, sandwiched between some homeless crack addicts conducting business as usual between alleyways and a nearby baseball park. There, we found the brief, one-hour respite we required to hash out why the world sucked ass and why we ruled... over Apple Dutch Babies (his) and Miso Cured Salmon Platter (mine).
The rejection itself doesn’t matter. [Hint: It’s the main reason I’m here with a second weekly column, called “channeling,” and not there trying very badly to play the soap industry butt-fucking game called “one-upmanship & lobbyist to the overrated stars.”]
What did matter was the natural conversation that happens between two acquaintances from high school who once dated, nearly married, broke up and reconciled as best friends, catching up on daily events, work, family, recorded TV programs, the YWCA erected seemingly overnight and blocking Jon’s view of the daily sunset show over Elliott Bay, ... the bemused observation that he always ignores the server rattling off the specials and launches right into the order as if he might be talked out of his veggie routine (usually the hummus and the garden salad) at any minute by a pretty Italian number wielding a pen and pad whom he almost always over-tips by 15 percent.
The way people order their food in restaurants always bemuses me. If they’re family, it annoys me to no end. Friendships and love affairs of the mind have promptly ended over as minor a detail as whether (an ex-college professor once revered as a demi-god of deepness and the man who anti-christened me “coggie” in the first place) Tom hassles the waitress over the true origin of the stone cold crabs, then bad-mouths her back as to whether she’ll actually follow his Felix Unger directions to leave only the legs half cracked in a semi-circle around his salt and pepper shakers.
My parents are a big fat rude ugly pain in the ass when they order. Rather, bark their orders like Army sergeants. My late father (an actual Army sergeant) did, and if that meal didn’t arrive brand spanking hot and delicious, according to his East Coast standards (a rotting Magoo’s pizza with snot-like coagulated cheese doesn’t cover it), within five minutes flat, he was out the door, bellowing, “I will never come back to this shithole again. There’s a Vito’s down the street who deserves MY business, you fucks!” For close to 17 years, I had to endure that bullshit from him, which instinctively made me the opposite kind of customer.
[Although my penchant for cursing like a sailor...]
Once I waited two hours for my food to never arrive while dining solo in Waikiki. And when the waiter shrugged as if it didn’t matter, I still tipped him generously when I left after one more hour of nothing but a glass of melted ice water.
My orders are almost always taken wrong, too. That’s because my father and my mother would always interrupt with their afterthoughts, fine-tuning their special orders, asking about the histories of the farm-raised fish and the raw oyster blends, and talking out loud with the wait help about their own past histories eating at the restaurant. By the time my order’s finished, I’d be lucky to get a lettuce leaf that’s not tainted with pubic hair and spermicidal jelly.
There I’ll be, just wanting a simple spaghetti and meatballs dinner combo, which comes with salad, bread and refills of soda. I’ve been ready to order for the 30 minutes it’s taken my parents to decide theirs. My turn comes, and –
-- “Oh the prime rib, it’s not the thick kind, is it? Last time I ordered, you guys wen give me da thick... oh da junk that was. I like the cut thin.” My mom.
Waiter, bending over backwards to accommodate the Queen of the Universe (my mom’s pretty, a double-whammy for me): “Yes ma’am, how thin would you prefer? An inch cut, a half-inch, a quarter, an eighth...?”
Quizzical look comes over her. I wish I could hit an invisible red button and drop her off the face of the earth. She laughs, embarrassed, batting her long lashes, looking for all the world like a young Connie Francis, with huge knockers. Of course. “Oh, I don’t know. Wait, lemme think. Uh, back when I had the best prime rib in Vegas, was that three months ago with Mike and we just wen win at blackjack...”
Finally, the waiter leaves—without taking the rest of my order. So I not only have to flag him down, but my food comes after everybody else’s, it’s cold, the meatballs are like golf balls, the Parmesan cheese topping’s congealed like day-old semen, and I’m wanting to take my mother’s inch-and-a-quarter thick, well-done prime rib and...
The wait help will endure any abuse to placate my beautiful but spoiled mother, who used to wait on customers herself, 1970-71, at the NCO club in Ft. Knox, KY (so she should know better). This one poor sap from the Union Square Grill in downtown Seattle, clearly enamored of her physical attributes, had to stand there and take it when my socially clueless mom went on and on and on about how rotten her meal had been. He’d arrived toward the end of our dinner to inquire as to whether we enjoyed it.
Eddie and I murmured, “Yes, it was good.” My mom, on the other hand, launched into a brutal restaurant review that would make Joan Rivers turn beet-red. “My prime rib was overcooked and too thick. Was cold too and the potatoes had no moa flavor, I had to put salt all over. Was the worst meal I ever had.”
The waiter blushed and stammered and apologized and asked if he could do anything to make it right. My mom repeated how bad her prime rib dinner had been and added a few more criticisms for good measure. Then, in the awkward silence that followed, where I couldn’t bear to even look at her I was so ashamed, she finally came out of her narcissist reverie to notice the discomfort and tried then to smooth things over with, “Eh, nothing you could do about it. But I never coming back here again. How can charge so much for this shit?”
After I married the love of my life, I figured, cool, no more pain-in-the-ass orders.
Eddie could’ve been my parents’ doppelganger. Oh, he can be polite enough, but he can also be obnoxiously loud and bossy about his high-maintenance orders like mom and dad when he wants. He also takes forever to decide—a typical Libra trait he exercises so well.
He’ll sit there and talk about the weather with the server, flashing his Damian Lewis (Band of Brothers, Forsyte Saga, An Unfinished Life) smile even more if she’s the spitting image of Lori Laughlin (Secret Admirer, Full House). Then, he’ll ask the obvious, with the menu open, revealing 16-pt. Arial font in plain sight, clearly listing all the salad dressings available, all 50. “I’ll have the house salad. But no cheese, no hot peppers, no olives, just a half a tomato, and, oh yeah, what dressings do you have?”
My husband has done this way too many times to mention. He’ll even pull something similar at a McDonald’s. Now, everybody in the Free and Third worlds knows what’s on a McDonald’s fast food menu. Yet, Eddie still has to stand there for five minutes with his mouth open going, “Uh...” and ordering his usual, either a Quarter Pounder without cheese (which invariably has cheese on the meat patty anyway) or a Big Mac without cheese (ditto).
My friend Jon’s family doesn’t fare any better. His passive-aggressive mom takes her sweet-ass time ordering, just to tick off her impatient equally passive-aggressive husband of 50-some-odd years. He’s ready with his standard order, if it has meat with gravy in it and it’s greasy with 10,000 fat-laden calories, he’s on it. Then it comes to her and she’s going over every single item on the menu (thank Christ she’s never been to 13 Coins), debating its pros and cons, wondering aloud whether she should risk it, listing all her food aversions and allergies, which Jon—as the dutiful, anal-retentive, masochistic eldest son—has memorized by now to save time and ease tensions.
“She takes three minutes, and by then, my dad’s flipping out,” Jon says between forkfuls of my toasted bagel and cucumber. “And when her food arrives, she never likes it. ‘Ah, da junk!’ she’ll say out loud in front of the waiter and everybody else in the restaurant. She always forgets that last time, she hated it, but she keeps ordering the same things.”
“Don’t you remind her?”
“Yeah, but she ignores me and orders it anyway. She likes her salads plain, with lemon. But she’s always getting it with the dressing on top and gets mad at the waiter, but it’s not his fault. I’m always reminding her, ‘Don’t forget, dressing on the side.’”
Jon’s mother and my mother, Eddie’s (late) mother, and hell, every mother out there and every woman with a working uterus and remotely pleasant physical features, they all commit the same fatal error when their food arrives, in heaping, gargantuan Buca di Beppo portions (aka, my normal helping).
“Oh da junk! This is too much food to eat!”
“OMG! I can’t eat all that food. Take half of it back.”
“Someone wanna share? I can’t eat this much.”
Okay, we get that you’re thin and sexy and wanna advertise how dainty, delicate, frail and giggly feminine you are by nitpicking your rabbit food apart, but please, for the rest of us who enjoy a seven-course meal once in a while with our obscenely monstrous desserts, shut your small, fragile, precious mouths (that would probably find a six-inch dick a little too much to handle, much less swallow), and SHUT. THE. FUCK. UP. about your diets and your health and your goddamned annoying lectures about the hazards of overeating.
Dinner, not a Curves halleluiah.
It’s cruel, twisted and sick of me to imagine, but – with this type of eater – there’s always a cruel, twisted and sick part of me that always wants to take her face (being a nitpicking idiot’s always a female domain) and shove it in a Bundt pan full of chocolate mousse or stuff several bratwursts down her gag reflex, with the rebel yell: “Had enough to eat yet, bitch?!”
You’d think with all the rudeness going on, the wait help would retaliate (maybe they do, that last salad didn’t taste right to Eddie), or remember fondly those of us who refuse to pull the diva act.
Life would be a lot nicer if the servers in this world paid attention to the nice servees, like me, for example, who know what we want, how to order promptly, properly and courteously, who eat with gusto and abandon (then take the leftovers home, you morons), and who profusely thank everybody involved in our meals not just in word but in deed, tipping big.
Later, three hours later, Jon and I had dinner at Two Bells Tavern down in Belltown on Fourth. The waiter was nice enough to us, but he never asked if I wanted refills on my Coke or Jon’s water. And I was too tired to bother flagging him down.
And too nice to do anything in retaliation but tip him generously, as per usual.
Maybe if I looked like my mom and bellowed like my dad...
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