A Buncha Tables, No Waiting. Unless You Choose To.
We went out for dinner tonight at a restaurant – the Pirates minded Baby Dog – and because Mama Dog has some genetic quirk that renders her incapable of accepting the first table offered at a restaurant, we didn’t immediately take the table for two that became available shortly after we arrived. In fairness, I didn’t want that table either. That part of the restaurant, which I call the earthquake hazard overhang, has tables crammed really close together, and I didn’t fancy being forced to listen to riveting dinner repartée about why somebody’s dissertation is late this year. Mama Dog set her eye on one particular table, where an elderly couple appeared to be just finishing up. With that in mind, we passed up the table near the door, which I admit was too draughty anyway. But then another table in the earthquake room opened, and I started to think what the hell, it’s only two stories to plunge in the event of an 8.5, but Mama Dog was now finding ways to overvalue the table with the old people. It had a hanging lamp with a charming shade. Yes, that will make the Tom Ka Guy even tastier. The old folks were clearly done, but watching the man pry open his dusty wallet didn’t inspire confidence that we’d be eating any time soon. He scrutinised the bill for so long that I started to wish I’d brought my stack of old newspapers with me. I could have made it through mid-October. What was taking so long? Was he calculating 5¾% interest for the tip? The first wave of the dinner rush was abruptly ending, and tables were clearing out all over the place, but no, we had to have that one. “Would you like one of these other tables?” the hostess asked. “No,” said Mama Dog, “we’ve waited this long, we might as well stick it out.” I felt a little despair realising that was true. We had to have that table now. Kind of like how the U.S. has to win in Iraq now, now matter how stupid the reasons for being there in the first place are. The man finally dragged enough money out of his wallet to cover the bill, and the woman, apparently headed for hip replacement, got up and creaked over to the ladies’ room. You couldn’t have done that while he was comparing the prices on the bill to the prices on the menu? I looked around. We could have our pick of tables. I knew better. Days passed. I calculated pi to three thousand decimals on the erasable specials board. Finally the old lady ratcheted her way out of the restroom and came slo-moing back across the restaurant like those English guys in Chariots of Fire, only without the Vangelis music. Or the vigour of youth. Then she plunked herself back down in her chair to finish her beer. “Oh good god, no,” thought I. “After this, she’s going to have to go again!” But no, she slurped down the Singha, they pocketed their mints, and off they went, tottering past us and out the door. The bus staff, sympathetically I thought, set a world’s record clearing the table, and down we sat to a lovely first baby-free restaurant meal since Mama Dog’s birthday. And what do you know? My darling wife was correct. The meal really was better with that lamp.