A few morsels about dining

Kevin Cowherd

January 06, 1993|By Kevin Cowherd

We had just been seated in a quiet corner of the restauran when the waiter, an earnest young man named Armando, said he hoped we enjoyed our "dining experience."

Naturally, my first instinct was to grab my coat and sprint for one of the exits. Because whenever you hear the term "dining experience," it usually includes some sort of bizarre Danish-Portuguese cuisine, fire-engine red banquettes, snooty waiters and a shrimp cocktail appetizer that goes for $9.95 -- not including the electron microscope you need to actually spot the shrimp.

As it turned out, we had a nice meal and Armando was not nearly the pretentious pain in the butt that he appeared to be at first.

Still, after thinking back on some of the other "dining experiences" I've had lately, here are a few modest suggestions for you waiters and waitresses out there:

* Look, can we tighten up the pre-meal introductions? Do I really need to hear that your name is Tammy and you'll be our server and you attend the University of Northeastern Missouri, where you major in secondary education and the fight song is: "Go You Fighting Camels?"

Next thing you know, we'll be exchanging family snapshots.

Look, Tammy, you want to be my friend? Instead of being so chatty, go get me a cocktail.

* On the other hand, I don't want someone waiting on my table who looks like he or she needs lithium treatment. (Hell, I can see that in the newsroom.)

There's a happy balance, is what I'm saying. Something along the lines of a cheery: "Hello, may I take your order?"

* Don't give me a look if I ask you to repeat the specials, OK? Hey, you just ticked off six different dishes with 12 vegetable combinations and four soup and salad bar options.

What am I, an IBM mainframe?

* Tell me something: What's with you people and the water?

Every time I take a sip of water, some little guy in a red Eisenhower jacket is running over to refill the glass.

Why don't we try doing this the way normal people do it? When the glass is empty, then let's fill it back up.

* What's the deal with the fresh pepper? You people are always coming around with that huge pepper mill and a broad smile on your face, like you're doing me a big favor.

Hey, it's only pepper, OK? You'd think it was gold bullion flakes being sprinkled on the salad, the way you people carry on.

You want to do me a real favor? Put the stupid pepper mill down and go get me another cocktail.

* How come whenever I ask if the fish is fresh, you're a little too quick to reply: "Oh, very fresh! VERY FRESH!?"

Relax, I'm not with the Board of Health. I just want to make sure the flounder hasn't been sitting around on the --board of somebody's car for a week.

* Don't disappear after the entree arrives. What do you people do -- go out to the parking lot and wash your cars? I've had waiters gone for so long I started looking for their pictures on the back of milk cartons.

* Here's another one that really gets me. How is it that the minute I have a mouthful of food, you pop up to ask if everything's all right.

This happens every single time! Do you people practice that or what?

Anyway, to answer your question: Yeah, yeah, everything's fine. But if I keep talking to you with this piece of steak sliding down my throat, somebody better know the Heimlich Maneuver. With my luck, it's probably be the little guy filling the water glasses.

* Let's be very clear on this next one. If I say I don't want to see the dessert cart, don't laugh and say: "Oh, c'mon, just a peek!"

Next thing I know you're wheeling something up to the table that's the size of the flight deck on the USS Ticonderoga, and it's filled with delicious-looking pastries and pies and cakes. And - POOF! -- there goes all my willpower.

Look, it's not that I don't like your Bavarian creme pie or homemade strawberry cheesecake or chocolate mousse.

It's just that I don't want to get so fat that I eventually keel over and have paramedics pounding on my chest in the back of an ambulance.

4 So if I say no dessert, it means no dessert, OK?

Please. I'm asking you nicely.

* Apparently, lingering over a meal is out of the question anymore. At least that's the feeling I get when I order that second cup of coffee and you start running that vacuum cleaner over my legs.

Boy, you people are subtle.

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