Saturday, March 01, 2008

'cause when you get uptight it's such a drag

It's like I once told Hawkgirl - I believe that a good writer can write about anything. I also believe this to be true of the writer of humor, who being abstractly "good enough", should be able to write about anything and somehow generate the yuks. I realize this is a theoretical theory that is more along the lines of banal pep-talk pseudowisdom of the kind usually found on inspirational day calendars and may not at all represent any empirical fact about the nature of writing.

Frinstance, I have not yet emptied my Kleenex-overflown trashcan since recovering from my particularly virulent Midwestern strain of the flu. That is gross and I could not write anything funny about that. Nor can I seem to formulate any humorous musings about getting thrown out of a restaurant such that I could wrap it all up nicely and say, "Haha hee ho, that's how I got kicked out of a restaurant now leave me a comment."

But I feel like I should recount these happenings if for nothing else than a public service announcement. Perhaps someday my beloved Chef BoyarFleeg will be running a restaurant and if he treats people like my posse was treated, I'll make him eat his chef's hat. And yeah, I'm pretty sure they actually wear those things - just like in cartoons.

The scene: Swanky new Mexican food restaurant in Newport Coast. Yeah, that's an actual town. Not many people outside of the OC seem to know about it. It's basically a nicer version of Newport Beach. The locals want the tourists and 909'ers to descend on Newport Beach thinking it's the cats pajamas while they sit around in Newport Coast luxury complimenting each other on how rich they are. You are so much richer than I am. No no - you're richer. This actually happens.

Now let me say that I am much like a sore thumb in the way that I stick out in these surroundings. The bus boys turn up their noses at me. I am but a simple man. I go to work, come back from work, talk to my girlfriend on the phone and go to bed. I don't hob knob, glad hand or shuck and jive. So whereas some people would get thrown out of a restaurant exclaiming, "you'll regret this!", they won't regret throwing me out. I am just a dude.

However, that cannot be said of my client's father, whose birthday we were attempting to celebrate. He is not just a dude. He like, owns airports. I didn't even know that airports were something that could be owned. I knew that you could own railroads and water companies - anybody worth their hotels on Baltic knows that. But airports? Does that include the planes? And for you A.R. fans, does it include the stair car?

Well, I guess I should say that I wasn't actually invited to the birthday thing. That's sorta where problems arose. My client, who works in the same building and is roughly my age, had a great idea. Birthday dinner was to be at 7pm at swanky new Mexican restaurant. But they don't take reservations and the place is crazy busy on Friday nights, usually sporting an hour-plus wait. I had a phone date at 7:30pm, so we would go after work, hang out, eat chips at the bar, wait for a table, and then when the Birthday entourage arrived at 7, I would split and head back up the coast for telephonic super-romancin'.

So we wait for about an hour, get a table at 6:15, and I decided that I'm going to proceed with ordering an entree so that I'm not passing out from hunger on my phone date. I finish my entree and pay so that the birthday tab doesn't include my seafood chimichanga. My client asks the server to bring some new place settings for the birthday entourage, who have just called to say they are on their way. And now we have problems:

"I'm sorry. You have to leave."

"Leave? Why?"

"You paid out. You're done. People are waiting."

"No - he paid out because he has to leave. We're here for a birthday dinner, and more people are on the way and they plan on eating."

"No. You have to leave. People are waiting."

"Yeah. We know. Because WE waited. For an hour. To get this table for a birthday dinner that hasn't happened yet."

"I'll get the manager."

Exit server. Enter "General Manager".

"You have to leave."

"I think there's a misunderstanding. We told the guy up front that we're here for a birthday dinner at 7, and that we were waiting for more people. They're almost here, so we'd like to stay and have that birthday dinner."

"You paid out. You have to leave."

"No. HE paid out. He is leaving. The birthday dinner - our expressed reason for being here - has not happened yet."

"You have to leave."

" this a joke? Are you actually trying to throw me out of the restaurant?"

"You need to leave. People are waiting."

At this point my client's father shows up. Turns out that he'd been there for ten minutes, but because he is who he is, he had to stop at every third table and shake hands with friends and colleagues. So imagine their surprise when 5 minutes later, he's walking back, only escorted by the largest waiters the "General Manager" could round up.

I could not believe it. Tossed out on our ears like common thugs. Like vagabonds and street urchins. Like IHOP drunks at 2am. This isn't Denny's... in Westminster. No, this is Javier's Cantina. Where I paid twenty dollars for a seafood chimichanga that tasted like a Taco Bell combo meal. I'm surprised they didn't bring me out a Pepsi in a giant plastic cup.

Notwithstanding their less-than-stellar customer service - the food was crappy. Bland and flavorless. I get better tasting Mexican food at the Super-Mex in Fountain Valley (the one in the shopping center next to T.J. Maxx).

Now look - I am no expert on restaurant management. And I understand that this so-called "General Manager" was put in a tricky position: People are out front wanting tables, and these guys have eaten and should move on. However, I am a litigator. Which means that while I may be clueless about everything else in life, I am nonetheless an expert on interpersonal conflict. People get in fights, so they come to a lawyer so that he can resolve their fights by fighting with other lawyers. And if you're me, you get to fight with judges too. So I fight all day long. And believe me - there's an art to it.

But I don't think it takes an expert in anything to recognize that maybe you shouldn't verbally pimp slap people who have just given you money and who express a desire to give you more money.

That's how I got kicked out of a restaurant now leave me a comment.