Sunday Brunch was one of our few family traditions we had when I was growing up. I think it stemmed from my Mom not wanting to do a damned thing on Sunday and Dad’s desire to eat something with flavor. Mom cooked a lot and while she some real winners (brown gravy to kill for, spaghetti sauce I still try to duplicate) there were a lot of meals that were tasteless mush. Mom was way ahead of the world wide ban on salt. Dad referred to salt as “flavor crystals”.
The Officer’s Mess at the Presido, Fort Ord and the Naval Postgraduate School were staples. But come on, we lived on the Monterey Peninsula and finding new restaurants was an adventure.
As I grew older I started to appreciate just how quirky my parents were. I always thought my Mom was insane. That is, until I went to Germany and saw Germans in large groups. Mom was a fish out of water. She demanded good service. She was also drunk. I’ve have seen her throw silverware at the waits (that’s cool talk for waitresses) to get their attention. Once, she leaned over and admonished me to “Always use spoons. Never throw knives and forks”. I wonder when that rule was first put in place?
Dad was subtle.
“Our food is coming soon. I just saw the cook chasing the cow.”
“If we don’t get served in the next five minutes, I’ll kick and scream.” It was at the Presido that I saw my Dad get down on the floor in a three piece suit and kick and scream.
Dad was always open to prank the waits like that. By high school, I joined the show. The “new girl” was always an open target. Dad was at the cashier, paying and I walked up and took the twenty from his hand.
“No Dad, not that one. Use this one (I pull out a twenty and hand it to the girl). See? The ink is still wet on this one. Dad eyes the bill and says, “Hmmm, need to use more sawdust.” Cashier, eyeing my bill now calls the supervisor.
I still enjoy a good meal. In fact, had one yesterday . We had a good, friendly wait named Tina. Ironically, she looked like Tina Fey (or Sarah Palin).
Tina: “Is everything okay?”
Me: Don’t know (mouth full), too busy eating.”
Waits that are attentive and play along get bigger tips.
Busy waits aren’t fucked with. Their job is hard enough.
Other winners at the dinner table:
“I want it rare enough that a good vet can have it up on its feet in a week.”
“Keep cutting slices off the cow until it dies and keep bringing them to me.”
Wait: “Would you like dessert (or a drink)?”
Me: “No thank, I have to play the piano later.”
Nowadays friends help out. We have been known to act out the entire “Tipping Scene” from Reservoir Dogs.
Or this one from Pulp Ficiton…
If I snap my fingers and yell, “Garcon!” and the wait comes over and says “Garcon means boy”, they get a twenty in their tip. Which isn’t a tip. It’s a gratuity. A thank you for service well rendered. A T.I.P. is given to the maître d’restaurant TO INSURE PROMPT SERVICE.