Remember when eating out was a relaxing experience? Someone else
cooked for you, served you and cleaned up after you. All you had
to do was chew, swallow and pay. No longer, though. Today, you
feel like a laboratory rat who has to struggle through a maze
every time it wants a chunk of cheese:
"Good evening," the maitre d' said. "Table for four?"
"Yes, Thank you."
"Smoking or non?"
"Would you prefer to dine indoors or outdoors this evening?"
"I guess indoors would be good."
"Very well, sir," he said. "Would you like to be seated
in the main dining room, the enclosed patio, or our lovely
"Uh, let me see...uh..."
"I can give you a table with a lovely view in our lovely
"I think the solarium would be lovely," I said.
We followed him there...
"Now, would you prefer a view overlooking the golf course,
the sunset on the lake or the majestic mountains to the West?"
"Whatever you recommend," I said.
Let HIM make a decision for a change, I thought.
He sat us by a window facing the golf course, lake or mountains.
I couldn't tell which because it was dark outside.
Then, a young man, better dressed and better looking than
any of us, presented himself at our table...
"Good evening, my name is Paul, and I'll be your waiter this
evening. Would you like a few minutes before I take your order?"
"No," I said. "I'm just a meat-and-potatoes guy, so I'll
have the filet mignon and a baked potato."
"Soup, or salad?"
"We have a mixed-green salad, hearts of palm, or a very fine
endive salad with baby shrimp."
"Just a mixed-green salad, okay?"
"Whatever you say, sir. Dressing?"
I didn't want to make another decision...
"Whatever you've got will be fine."
"We have Creamy Italian, Blue Cheese, Vinaigrette, Thousand
Island, Honey Dijon and Ranch."
"Just bring me one. Surprise me."
"Creamy Italian is our house specialty. Would that be
all right, sir?"
I was curt. I was done with civility.
"And for your baked potato?"
I knew what was coming!
"I just want the baked potato dry, you understand?
I don't want anything on it."
"No butter? No sour cream?"
"No chives? No bacon chips ? "
"No! Don't you understand English? I don't want anything
on it. Just bring me a baked potato and a steak."
"Would you prefer the six, eight, or 12-ounce steak, sir?"
"Would you like that rare, medium rare, medium, medium
well or well done? Or, if you prefer, we can butterfly
it for you."
"Pauly Boy," I said, "you are really starting to get me steamed."
"Which brings up the vegetables, sir. Would you like steamed
broccoli, creamed corn, sauteed zucchini, or diced carrots?"
That did it. I threw my napkin to the floor, stood up, put
my face right in his arrogant kisser and said, "How'd you
like to settle this outside?"
"Fine with me, sir. Would you prefer the parking lot, the
side alley or the street in front of the restaurant?"
"I prefer right here."
Then I sucker-punched him: he ducked, then countered with
a left hook right under my eye. It was the first time all night
he hadn't offered me a selection.
I collapsed semiconscious into my chair, as someone in authority
rushed over and berated Pauly.
I felt my tie being loosened, my collar unbuttoned, hands
slapping my face.
When I regained my senses, I saw the very concerned
maitre d' right in front of my nose.
He apologized and offered to buy me a drink, call the paramedics,
whatever I wanted.
"No, no," I said. "I'll be all right. Just bring me a
glass of water."
"Yes, sir, right away," he said.
"Would you prefer imported mineral water, sparkling water,
or club soda with a wedge of lime?