Tuesday, August 12, 2008

"Yeeessss...denim like a jean"--Bernie Mac as Frank Catton in "Ocean's 11"

Bernie Mac had been a guest in our restaurant a few times over the years, though not recently. In between movies I guess he was still pretty much a stand-up comic and he would come to our city periodically on tour. It was always very gratifying when someone would call to make the reservation and let us know, "he loves your restaurant and always looks forward to coming back".

Bernie Mac was a perfect gentleman and a dream guest--no ridiculous requests, no grandstanding, no arrogance, none of the crap you sometimes hear attributed to celebrity restaurant guests. Our restaurant is a beacon for those who are near the top of the heap in whatever they do, and since many of those people understand the value of a simple, peaceful dinner, Bernie Mac was rarely approached by other diners while he ate. When he was approached, he responded to the attention with true grace and kindness. He was also a great tipper--even shelling out a little money for your humble author before leaving back to his hotel. One year he ate in the restaurant each of the three night he was in town--a true compliment if there ever was one.

I was thinking of Bernie Mac this past Saturday night, while at the same time trying my hardest not to break someones neck. This someone, who for purposes of comparison I have decided we will call "Bernie MacDouchebag" had brought his family to the restaurant for drinks, and to "think about having dinner if you can impress us enough while we're relaxing in the bar". The pure toolishness wafting off this guy in waves stopped me from informing him that his walk-in party of six was looking at a three hour wait before I would have a table available--I figured there would be plenty of time to give him that delightful bit of info once we had "impressed" him. As it was, the point became moot. One of the members of Mr. MacDouchebag's party was his granddaughter, who appeared to be perhaps nineteen, possibly even nineteen and a half years old, and certainly not one day older. When her demand for a perennially sophisticated Long Island Ice Tea was met with a request for proof-of-age, her response was to hold up her left hand, upon which was perched a huge and obviously fake diamond ring, "I'm engaged! I don't need I.D...."

"Congratulations on your engagement", said the server, "but you need I.D. if you wish to consume alcohol here". With that simple and correct answer, here came Mr. MacDouchebag out of his chair and after the server, a tiny young lady [Tila Tequila-sized, and probably the only person in the entire restaurant smaller than her attacker] who then had to endure being grabbed by the arm and poked in the chest twice by this Lilliputian piece of shit before I was able to arrive on the scene.

More and more, average dinner guests are being replaced by passive-aggressive, simmering pots of rage in human form--shrieking harridans just waiting to explode upon those they perceive to be easy prey, namely harried, "subservient" restaurant workers.

"YOU IGNORANT LITTLE THING, WHO ARE YOU TO DARE ASK A MEMBER OF MY--", The words trailed off when my right hand came down upon this awful little fellow's shoulder from behind, and I squeezed...hard. As he turned around to face me [with a little forceful guidance from yours truly] he realized I was "just another restaurant employee" and he started spouting off again--some people, mostly the really stupid ones, just don't know when to quit.

Now, I have been in this industry for about twenty-five years, and in all that time [leaving out nightclub jobs where fights and confrontations are readily bred by the alcohol] I have spoken to and/or placed my hands on a guest in a confrontational manner less than ten times--ten times out of literally millions of exchanges. The troubling thing is that nine of those ten times have come in the last few years, and I am comfortable saying after a great deal of self-searching [in addition to the opinions of those around me at the time of the conflicts] that it ain't me--people are changing, and not for the better.

So here I am with this little mink of a man snarling and chattering at me--full of threats and insults--and I am thinking of Bernie Mac and trying to retain my composure. What the guy was saying didn't matter [indeed looking back I couldn't remember one bit of the diatribe] but it was clear that the restaurant was filling up and that Tom Thumb was making a scene, and so I leaned in close to him, put my hand back on his shoulder and whispered, "get out of here before I kill you".

I'm pretty sure I meant it, and I'm positive that he thought I meant it--he was out the door so fast that if a hostess hadn't opened it he would have gone right through the glass. These types of incredibly offensive episodes and behaviors are becoming so much more prevalent as time goes on that I am starting to wonder if I can really keep my cool. When I was much younger and some self-important douche decided to make me wait forever at the table while he went though some ridiculous, over-the-top tasting ritual I would amuse myself [and take my mind off how weeded the asshole was making me] by imagining what it would be like to just crack the guy on top of the head with the bottle once or twice--now I'm thinking that the time may come soon when someone is actually going to deserve that treatment--and I may just go ahead and give it to them.


Blogger cdees39 said...

I don't know how you do it. Bless your heart. I really love your writing. You are so descriptive it makes the reader feel they are actually there.

9:36 AM  

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