This weekend, I tried to introduce a friend to a fun new game called “Guess Whether or Not Karen Likes This Waiter.” Unfortunately, I was informed that this game would probably not be very much fun as the answer is generally obvious within seconds. So, for those who don’t have the pleasure of dining with me, or who just miss the experience, I present:
My Top 10 Things Waiters Can Do to Make Me Hate Them*
- Ask if I want more water. Well, if it’s empty, that means I’m drinking it and since it’s free for you, why don’t we go with yes. Yes, I do want more water. Keep that glass at least half full.
- Bring the check while I am still consuming dessert and/or before asking if we’d like coffee or anything else. This is actually just rude. Not only does it reduce the chance of a final few items being put on the bill (thus adding to the tip) but it leaves a pretty sour taste in my mouth. I’m not a starving writer camping out at Starbucks for Wifi, I promise I’ll leave when I’m finished.
- Use the royal “we.” This KILLS me. “What are we having today? Are we enjoying our hummus? Do we need some more Diet Coke?” This is both grammatically incorrect and could lead to some uncomfortable moments. What if I said “we are” and she replied “well actually you haven’t let me have any yet?” How awkward would that be?
- Not have an opinion on the food they’re serving. I’ll admit it, I ask a lot of questions when I order. I’ve been called a “high maintenance orderer” before (albeit by someone who didn’t know the difference between brioche and a popover so take that for what it’s worth). The point is, if I ask which is better the burger or the chicken and you ask me “which are you in the mood for?” that doesn’t actually help me at all. If I was in the mood for one, I would have ordered it.
- Try to upsell me on a “signature” appetizer before I’ve ordered my drink. This used to kill me at Dos Caminos when I still had my menu, hadn’t thought through my meal, and had $15 guacamole forced on me in a lava pot. Just give it time, I promise I’ll order three courses, but I don’t want overpriced avocados just because you put it in a special box on the menu.
- Act too Disney-esque. Maybe I’m cynical, but when someone is that cheerful with me, I assume it’s a front and they’re thinking of stabbing me in the face. It’s tough to feel at ease when you’re looking over your shoulder all night for a steak knife-wielding maniac with a big Disney grin.
- Explain the restaurant “concept” to me. “Have you been here before? No? Great, let me explain what we’re about to you. We’re into a locavore dining experience specializing in small plates with Mediterranean influences. We recommend you order 2-3 items from column A, 3-5 items from column B, and at least 2 items from column C, but if you order 3 or more items from column C you should probably eliminate everything from column A.” Guess what, I went to your website, I figured out what your concept is, and it’s called pretentious, but the Yelp reviews are good so just bring me some wine.
- Add to my own personal anxiety. When you seem nervous or flustered or brusque or distracted, I start to assume my food has been poisoned.
- Not be around enough. I may be paying to eat at your restaurant, but in some ways, I’m a prisoner. When I’m out of bread or want a lime wedge or need a utensil, I just have to sit there and hope that you’ll remember to come back and get to me. And if it takes too long, I have to contemplate eating with my hands and bringing shame to my mother from afar.
- Be around too much. The third time you ask me if my meal’s okay, it starts to taste a little funky. Save all that personal attention for your loved ones.
*I should note that I don’t believe any of the reasons above are cause for poor tipping unless they’re over the top (or they really do stab you per #6).
And if you are a demanding diner, you should certainly reward those on their feet getting your meal for you.
I’ll be honest: I had no idea what to expect from Kid Rock’s concert with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) but I knew the people watching would be fantastic. Fortunately for me and Jeff, we didn’t have to look far to find one of the loudest characters in the joint.
Full thoughts on the concert/experience follow a short detour about a Kid Rock devotee.
I’ll call her Polly Peekaboo. She was about 48, was wearing a silver paisley vest over a black shirt and miniskirt. She was at what must have been her 100th rock concert with her best leather-clad girlfriend. And they were wasted. Like so drunk the usher seating us looked at her, look at us, and said “maybe she’ll pass out.” She greeted us with “Peekaboo kiddos!” in a loud Southern accent and we were off to the races. Actually, the minute she said that, I made Jeff change seats because I can smell crazy and it smells a lot like excessive boxed wine.
Things Polly Peekaboo said to me and/or Jeff in the first few minutes of sitting near each other:
- I’ve gotta go tinkle.
- [To Jeff]: Good that you tricked your high class girl into coming to a Kid Rock show!
- [To Me]: Can I take my shoes off?
- [To Jeff]: Are you wearing heels?
She then asked us if she could get us more wine and upon returning with it, decided that rather than ask us to move again (the first time being “to go tinkle,”) she would crawl over the seat in front of her. With a quick “sorry kiddos,” she lifted her already mini mini skirt and swung her legs around fully exposing herself to all those to her left. I’ll spare you graphic details but let’s just say that “Peekaboo” proved to be a double entendre.
Fortunately for all of us, her alcohol had severely impaired her judgment and in addition to throwing things repeatedly at the head of the man two rows in front of her, she decided to pull out and light up a cigarette. A big enough no no that she and her friend were promptly escorted out. Because even though Kid Rock encourages badassery, he doesn’t condone fires.
The evening overall was incredible. It’s tough to know how to dress for such an affair — given that at the last Kid Rock concert I went to, I saw women in matching rhinestoned tube tops that read “Kid” and “Rock” respectively. I figured best to dress for the DSO and saw a sea of suits to… well, more rhinestoned tube tops. Regardless of attire though, every single person there could feel the energy and spirit for what would be an incredible night.
I’ve documented my surprising love for Kid previously on this blog and extensively on Facebook/in person, but as a little girl who loved classical music, watching the merging of two opposite genres in the name of salvaging a cultural institution in a town known for the hard times it’s faced was pretty special.
I’ve copied the set list from the Detroit news article (which includes more detail and flavor than I provided), but will offer up that once again “Bawitdaba” proved to be a transcendant song so I can’t wait for whatever videos/recordings are made available later.
Set list for Kid Rock with DSO:
— Fanfare for the Common Man (DSO only)
— Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Op. 67 I. Allegro Con Brio (DSO only)
—”Hoe Down” from Rodeo (DSO only)
— Farandole from L’Arlesienne Suite No. 2 (DSO only)
— Finale from Overture to William Tell (DSO only)
— Devil Without a Cause
— You Never Met a… Quite Like Me
— All Summer Long
—Lay It On Me
— Rock On
— Purple Sky
— Times Like These
— Rock N Roll Jesus
— Only God Knows Why
— Born Free
—Son of Detroit (Rock’s band only)
— Wastin’ Time (Rock’s band only)
— God Bless Saturday (Rock’s band only)
So anyway, words can’t describe the sights and sounds (and smells) of such an evening nearly as well as I’d like them to, but kudos to Kid Rock for being so generous with his time, congratulations to the DSO for being willing to try new things and successfully raising $1 million, and apologies to Polly Peekaboo who left her silver paisley vest behind and will never see it again.
Please add tonight’s experience to the list of things that only happen to me.
Tonight, when I went to move my laundry from washer to dryer, I received the following note left in my washing machine from a man I ran into twice in the elevators of my building:
While it would be very easy for me to ridicule this based purely on the fact that his email address is firstname.lastname@example.org or mentioning that he was wearing a white turtleneck and brown fleece vest or by pointing out that it’s impossible that I looked nice and friendly because I a) didn’t speak to you and b) pretty much default to Ice Princess, I have to say that I found this extremely creepy.
It’s 11 at night and I’m a single woman who lives alone who needs to go back and forth to the basement by herself three times. How do you think this note made me feel, Elevator Man? Assuming the absolute best, that you found me nice and friendly (unlikely for the reasons listed above), why would you think that leaving a note on top of my machine (that required you to lift everyone else’s, examine the contents, and determine what was mine based on the laundry bag you saw I had in the elevator), would make me want to contact you? My space is private and at 11 on a Thursday night, I’d like to be able to sleep soundly without thinking about stalkers who had private access to my laundry and know where I live.
Now, I’m sitting in my apartment dreading having to go pick up my laundry because you could be hiding around any corner. So let it be known to future men in elevators who think that leaving women notes on top of their clothing is charming or romantic: you need to be Ryan Gosling hot to pull this move off.
Last week, I checked a major Someday/Maybe item off my to do list (also the sole item in the “Fun” section of my task management system… feel free to judge accordingly): an introductory culinary knife skills class.
I’ve always loved cooking, but these days it’s not a practical hobby: I travel a ton, I live alone, and if I were to spend a weekend home cooking, I wouldn’t be able to consume the food before either it went bad or I got sick of it. Also, my kitchen is an ugly, sad, poorly ventilated room with hideous cabinets and thus, I don’t spend much time there.
Anyway, you should run — not walk — to take a knife skills class (and if in DC, I highly recommend the one at CulinAerie with Susan Watterson as the instructor). Here’s why:
- You are probably not holding your knife correctly. I know this because the last four friends I told this story too (who love to cook) were not holding their knife correctly.
- You are probably not be efficient with motions while chopping or slicing.
- Deboning a chicken will be one of the more satisfying experiences of the week.
- You’ll learn a number of ways to be more efficient with your shopping — both of knives and food.
- You will produce a beautifully cut carrot within the first 20 minutes. Please see mine:
That said, I’m a big fan of optimizing experiences. Here’s what I would keep in mind if you are taking an introductory cooking class on a Saturday morning:
- Apparently a lot of people give newlyweds/newly-engaged/cute couples in their lives cooking classes as a present. Here’s the thing: the cute couple in someone else’s life is not a cute couple in my life. I spent three hours behind two hippies making out between cuts. And I had a big knife at my disposal. It was quite an exercise in restraint.
- A lot of people see knife skills as a good intro class and, literally, have never cut anything other than the packaging around a microwave meal. Be prepared for people around you to be confused about pretty much everything. Wait… when you said keep the root on to hold the onion together, did you mean this root that I just cut off? Ooopsies!
- You just might be forced to work next to Mary Jane. Because I did and she was a complete moron who will likely have to repeat the course several more times. Mary Jane was a delightful Southern belle in a relationship with a hairy and verbally abusive man whose name I’ve already forgotten. What’s great about WhatsHisName is he doesn’t let his own lack of knife skills slow down his criticism of everything Mary Jane does. And what’s great about Mary Jane is like a goldfish, by the time she swims around the bowl, she’s forgotten everything he’s said.
Since I’m solutions-oriented, rather than offer a multi-paragraph, detail-studded “Ode to Mary Jane,” I’ll give you this advice: if you take this course, you should call and find out a) if you work in partners and b) if you’re at small tables or in small groups. And then, you should take the class with however many friends you need to use as a buffer from everyone else in the room. Sartre was right: hell is other people, but if you’re going to be stuck there, you don’t want to be while learning how to wield sharp objects.
My father gives incredible advice and the best advice I ever got from him was: “on a bad day, remind yourself of the Serenity Prayer and, on a really bad day, read and reflect on Rudyard Kipling’s ‘If.’” Since I just passed these words on to a friend, I thought it helpful to document them some place and consolidate the wisdom.
Please find them both below:
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
If by Rudyard Kipling:
IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ‘em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
‘ Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!