I was out for dinner last week and noticed a few things that have changed since my earlier dining days. The changes involve putting, paying, and posing-all of which are commonly seen in restaurants.
- Putting lemon in my water. Who started this practice and why? Consider this-in order for that lemon to teeter on the side of my glass, people had to plant it, pick it, process it, purchase it, prepare it, and finally, put it on my glass-that’s a lot of Ps! That’s also a lot of hands-at least 6 pairs-that played a role in creating the yellow sliding board joyfully used by a million germs to reach a pool of water-the water I am supposed to drink while waiting for my meal.
- Pushing for Payment. Gone are the days of sitting at your table for cocktails and conversation after you’ve finished eating. It’s all about paying so they can turnover the table to the next patron. Perhaps this is a reflection of the number of stars awarded to the restaurants where I eat. However, back in the day, we staked claim at a table for hours at the Italian restaurant we frequented with my parents-the one near the sulfur creek-and nobody pushed for payment. And that restaurant, just as those I visit today, certainly didn’t earn 5 stars. The ‘let me help you out’ process begins when there are only a few bites left on your plate. This prompts the server to hover while holding the black leather binder with your bill in it. As soon as you set your fork down, they try to pull the plate out-even if there is still food on it. It’s like the magic trick where the magician pulls the tablecloth but leave the dishes behind, only in this case, they pull the dishes and leave the food behind-if your quick enough to catch it. Why should I feel like a biotch when the server reaches in for my plate while asking the proverbial question, “Are you finished?” and I say, “clearly not”? Oh, and then comes the next proverbium,“I’m just gonna set this here for you. No rush, take your time, and let me know if you need anything.” Translation-hurry up and stuff those last few bites in mouth, put your payment in the binder, and get the hell out so someone else can sit down and eat.
- Posing for Pictures. When I was growing up, we didn’t photograph our food, drinks, or even ourselves when out for dinner. We simply went, enjoyed, and returned home with only our memories of how everything looked-and it worked just fine. As cameras were flashing in the low star restaurant where we dined last week, I noticed that everyone was posing. Not the ‘lean your head in this way, or tip your chin that way’ type of pose, but the ‘I’m in between cheers’ pose. They stood up, bent one knee, gently rested the tip of one toe on the floor, and placed one hand on their hip. We used to hold that pose between cheers at a high school football game. When did it become the standard pose for getting your picture taken? And it happens so naturally, without any prompting from the photographer, so I’ve clearly missed the memo on posing for pictures.
And speaking of high school, a teacher used to award a ‘3P’ for certain projects completed in woodshop. It stood for a job that was less than stellar and had been completed using piss-poor planning. In my case, the 3Ps of dining come down to this-Put lemon in my glass and push me for payment, and you’re gonna see a pose that you won’t soon forget!