Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Day Nine: So Tasty, and Full of Emollients for Your Delicate Skin

Funny stories about restaurant experiences (I'd love to hear yours, too!):

There was this little Chinese restaurant in Hadley, MA, near Smith, I forget the name. The food was probably vile, but at the time I'd only been eating Chinese food for a year so I didn't know. On this particular night I was dining with my friend (and roommate) Karen, and I have no idea what we were talking about because suddenly there was an outburst like a whole stack of dishes hitting the floor combined with a vigorous splash like someone vomiting.

Since the room was so small, our gaze didn't have far to travel, and alighted on the spectacle while it was still in process. A man and a woman on opposite sides of a booth were standing, hoisting full platters of food, and dumping them on top of each other's heads. Platters emptied, they grabbed for whatever piles had landed on the table and flung them, then finger-painted orangey sauce on each other's skin. We had heard no raised voices, no epiphets, no sounds of any kind prior to the incident except the usual clinking of glasses and forks, and there was no conversation now. The second they were done hurling whatever they could reach, they slid almost simultaneously out of their respective benches and sailed out the door. Neither of them looked behind, neither said a word, and I'd wager they hadn't seen the check.

Their sudden absence left a vacuum in the room, a cone of silence that brought the rest of us into a greater degree of intimacy with each other than is usually found in restaurants. Generally, a restaurant table affords a false sense of privacy, a manufactured force field that shuts out not only the conversation of other diners, but their very presence. Most of the time, we can pretend that the restaurant belongs to our party and ours alone. But when two people have just broken all the rules by dumping their entire (seemingly uneaten) meal over each other's heads and then leaving the rest of us with the aftermath, it's impossible to avoid making eye contact, with embarrassed shrugs and half-grins as if to reassure others: "Don't worry, I'm not crazy, I just like Chinese food."

The darting glances continued for a few seconds, then the silence was broken when a burly man rose from his booth directly behind the crime scene.

"I'm gonna beat the shit out of them!" he growled, and stumped towards the door, slightly bow-legged.

As he departed, he hiked up his jeans by the belt loops, which was difficult, we could see, because his pants were stuffed with a platter's worth of lo mein. Half of his bum--shiny with sauce--was visible above the load of noodles that weighed him down. He exited, never to be seen again. A waitress appeared as if on cue, and began scrubbing at the vinyl seats without looking at us.


Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said...

That couple took dine and dash to a whole new dimension!

What a tale! Sam, next time you go out for Chinese food, can I come?

Anonymous said...

Poor guy!

I remember too when I first had Chinese food. I always ordered what the lady behind the counter identified as "chicken veg-able brown sauce." What the heck is that? I bet that's not what they're eating in China. :)

suebdo said...

Awesome food fight! That almost sounds tempting ... You should do an episode on food tragedies -- for years I recalled your "Tragic Pan" stories.
Also ... "Sam's rules for food" would be a great post ... "Chocolate should know its place and be brown" I still quote some of your rules!

Caroline said...

Well, that certainly beats my messiest dining experience where a waitress carrying a soup bowl full of ranch dressing suddenly tripped and rained ranch dressing all over our section of Tony Roma's in downtown Vegas. :) We were all speckled with white, but I don't think it could approach the scale of what you saw! I pity the staff who had to clean that mess.

Bill said...

When Paul and I went on our first date, the waiter dumped a glass of ice water on the table.

That's all I have for you!



Mary and Paul said...


Seems that I didn't log my dad off of Gmail, last time I was helping him!

Hence, the "Bill."



The Wades said...

"Their sudden absence left a vacuum in the room, a cone of silence that brought the rest of us into a greater degree of intimacy with each other than is usually found in restaurants." Who writes like that??? Outstanding! Yet another pleasure to read. I love your daily posting, even when I'm behind. Now I have a few to come back and read. (Company in town--otherwise, I'd be all over it.)