what we talk about when we talk about restaurants

 
Dear Restaurant with a Cute and Unusual Name:

I was thinking of writing you a letter to say what I thought of my experience at lunch but I got side-tracked into wondering what your cute and unusual name might mean…

Perhaps it means… “An attractive establishment with plenty of staff and at least one server who does not know what beans are in the Sweet Italian Soup with Beans but who will check because it’s No Problem and returns with a proud declaration of ‘white’ and when I say ‘navy?’ he says yes even though when the soup comes they are not navy, they are possibly lima…. although, like the server, I am not a connoisseur of all and sundry beans.”

Or could it by chance mean “tepid soup that arrives many many minutes after ordering, with only an asthmatic whisper of cheese (pecorino) and too little Sweet Italian Sausage.” 

Or a reference to this, how when I ask the server if he’s found out about the pizza he forgets to find out and (many many minutes later) tells me he will do so now because until now the kitchen has been too busy but it’s No Problem and perhaps things have slowed down.” 

Maybe it means “a cook that cannot be asked about pizza while s/he is ladelling soup.”

It might  of course be meant to describe “how only after my not-even-close-to-being-warm, indeterminately bean’d soup is eaten, does my server deliver the glass of water I was offered when I  first sat down.”

Or does it mean this: “three water glasses mysteriously left on my table after the hostess cleared the excess cutlery and plates. Or a reference to the hostess herself , a young woman who, on my arrival, said I could sit anywhere I like, and when I said Oh how lovely, a window would be great! she led me to the end of the room and pointed to a tiny table tucked into a windowless corner and which almost touched the table of the only other people in the room and when I made a face she said You don’t like this table? and I said well another would be better and so I chose a table by a window where I would not be touching neighbouring diners and when I asked the hostess if she knew what the soup of the day was she said she did not and reminded me that she was a hostess.”

Then again, perhaps your cute name simply refers to “how when the bill comes, long long minutes (too many long minutes) after I ask for it, and a passing bartender asks if she can help and I say well I’d like to pay my bill and she says No Problem, she says she’ll take care of it and when ten minutes later I am now pacing in front of my table as I have a class starting in mere moments no one can find my server or the bartender and so I explain the situation to the hostess and when the server finally shows up he casually places the change from my twenty-dollar bill on the table and says sorry for the wait.”

On the other hand it wouldn’t surprise me if the name is meant to describe “the tone in which he says this, like he’s been ‘told’ I’m annoyed rather than any kind of sincere apology.”

Also, we shouldn’t discount the possibility that it refers to“the way that I, for the first time in a very very long time, possibly ever, scoop all of the change, bills and coins, into my pocket and leave the bill folder empty and wide open.”

Or “the look on the server’s face when I do it.”

If the restaurant’s cute and unusual name means any of the above, then it is a well suited name indeed. And things are going perfectly to plan.

Sincerely,

The single at the window seat who will bring a sandwich next time she has a class in your vicinity.

Alphabet_soupPhoto by: wikicommons

a rant for friday, after dinner on thursday

 

The waiter brings the apps, sets mine down and says, “There you are, young lady.”

He sets down my husband’s. “And for you, sir.”

We are the same age, my husband and I.

And I am no young lady.

When the main course comes the waiter repeats his little service mantra and I point out the above—lightheartedly, but clearly wrapped in a message. It rattles the poor soul but he’s not the sort that moves easily beyond his ignorance and chooses to stand firm instead, explaining that many people like being called ‘young lady’.

“People?” I say. I point out that in our case, my husband is called ‘sir’ every time.

He looks to my husband who purposely says nothing. This is my discussion and that seems to rattle the waiter even more.

He says some people prefer ‘sir’.

Again with the people.

I should mention that the waiter is thirty something. In other words nowhere near old enough to be calling anyone young. Were he my parents’ vintage or older, or even my vintage, it would be another story and more acceptable, because it would be coming from a whole different place. Does this chap call twenty-five year olds ‘young lady or man’? I doubt it but if he does I’m guessing it might also come across as odd. In fact I can’t think of any age, beyond maybe eight, when I would have thought it normal. But more important than the age thing, is the gender thing. My husband is referred to with respect, as in ‘Sir’. While I’m expected to be content with the nonsense of ‘young lady’.

Women may be subjected, generally, to more dears and sweeties and hons, than men, and from both genders, and that’s another story, but this is about more than endearments or habits of speech. The ‘young lady’ thing, however, seems to come predominantly from males… and is directed at females who are not young. Perhaps these misguided men think of it as some kind of gift…

I try to explain this, to enlighten him with the news that women don’t actually enjoy being condescended to and that this ‘young lady’ thing is just plain silly, and then I present him with a challenge so that he might see the silliness more clearly. I suggest he turn things around, call all male customers, of any age, ‘young man’.

His face falls a little.

I smile. “Go on,” I tell him. “Give it a whirl. Maybe some people will prefer it…”

No answer to that and I’m suspecting he doesn’t give it a whirl.

I swear if I was his boss I’d insist he do it.

Later, when I pass on dessert and hand back the menu, he says, “Thanks, love.”

“You’re welcome, darling,” I reply.

If he gets where I’m coming from he doesn’t let on.

It’s only when he places the bill on the table and I immediately reach for it—and I know he sees this—that for the first time all night a light seems to come on for this boy as he realizes he’s made a terrible mistake…