“Is everything okay?”

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Why do restaurants – upscale, moderate and low end, it doesn’t make any difference – insist on having their wait staff interrupt your meals, your conversations, your most personal and professional moments to ask, “Is everything okay?” (“Well, it was until you asked.”)

“Honey?” she says seductively, reaching between her class of wine and the votive candle, across the soft linen tablecloth to touch the back of my hand. “…Why don’t we skip..”

“So how are you folks doing?”

Get my point. Or maybe, “And so, Mr. Goldman, do we have a deal?” I ask after my pitch perfect over dinner closing presentation. Mr. Goldman straightens up, his head actually bobbing vertically, unable to suppress the hint of a smile, “I think,” he begins to tell me in a seriously deep voice, “I can speak for Mr. Sachs when I say, ‘Congrat…”

“And was the Salmon everything I promised? …More wine?”

Where was that guy when my last girlfriend was in the process of dumping the living crap out of me?

For one thing, I’m way too nice a guy to tell the waiter the truth, that the fish was too salty, the vegetables overdone and the wine too bitter. (If I were more sure of myself, I’d have ordered a sweet rosé instead of one those dark, overpriced wines real men pretend to like.) No, I’m way too nice. “Everything’s fine, thank you,” I tell him. “Now please go away before your obnoxiousness blows any chance I have of getting lucky tonight.” ..Yeah, I wish. (“And I was this close,” I think to myself, desperately wondering how I can reclaim the moment.)

I was on the road last week where I had breakfast at a Bob Evans, “Down on the farm.” I was there 20 minutes, during which the waitress asked me no fewer than 3 times how I was doing, and the manager came over once to inquire for herself. Did I have a particularly severe scowl on my face? Was I grumbling something awful while I wolfed down my fake eggs (Egg Beaters) and hash browns? No. I was reading through the morning stories at MSNBC.com on my cell phone. I think I need to smile more while I’m chewing my food.


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