- Sit down at a spot used for sitting in front of a spot used for eating, assuming those spots are not occupied by another eater or the food that eater would like to eat;
- Observe water being poured into a cup for you;
- Receive paper reporting the options for consumption in the establishment you have selected to patronize;
- To the extent you enjoy the gift of literacy, peruse said paper;
- Relish in the dictatorial delight of selecting and summoning whatever it is your little heart desires from the page(s);
- Sit and wait for someone to do the work of preparing your selection and delivering it underneath your chin; and
- Engage in the business of consumption.
For restaurant patrons, very little of the business of going to a restaurant should be described as “challenging” or “surprising.” Maybe you have a hard time making conversation with your dining companions. Okay, that’s tough. Maybe your jerky boyfriend has decided to resign as your jerky boyfriend in a public dining room. Ouch. Nevertheless, the degree of difficulty associated with the basic logistics of dining out should register somewhere north of lying down and south of walking in a straight line.
Then you go out to eat with my husband. And you realize that they should include “ordering” on standardized tests.
My husband is a smart fellow. He is a lawyer for a public utility and he says things like “bridge loan” and “bond redemption” with his serious face on. He recently fixed our bathroom sink after YouTubing instructional videos on how to do it. He has caught two skunks in a trap and didn’t get sprayed by either one when he let them go. The man knows his way around tight situations.
But put him in a seated position with a laminated menu in front of a friendly waitress, and he loses the capacities for decision-making, speech, and closed-mouth thinking. Not necessarily in that order.
I have seen this man order a sausage appetizer followed by the exact same thing in the entree size. I have seen a waitress ask him what he would like and watch him respond by staring desperately at me, as if I am transmitting the answer to him via eye-rolls. Every time he asks what kind of beer the place has on draft, I observe him “listen” to the waitress rattle off the list. I take note as his brain freezes, his eyebrows panic, and his lips repeat the last three words the waitress said, whatever they were. Then I explain that when he says “Light Amstel Light,” it just means he wants an Amstel Light. And could she also bring two paper bags. One for him to breathe into, and one for me to put over my head.
I don’t know why ordering, at a restaurant, throws him for such a loop. It’s not like we end up there after a serious spell of sleep-walking. And we’ve never done hallucinogenic drugs. Whenever we alight upon a restaurant, it is the product of some discussion and advance planning. He has always had some warning that the restaurant is our destination. You would think he’d use the time to put his game face on.
Instead, he consistently confronts the situation from a position of unpreparedness. That means that neither of us can really relax and settle into our dining experience until the waitress has walked away confused and we’ve reconsidered some form of therapy. Perhaps we should be considering ordering in more.
Or perhaps we should only go out to eat when we have taken hallucinogenic drugs. They would probably help loosen my husband’s tongue and stimulate his brain into some form of activity. They would also allow me to pretend that I’m not at the table with him when he tries to order.
This does not look like a setting for a horror movie. Unless you are my husband.