Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Wacky Waiter

My good friend, who also happens to be my sister-in-law, took me to lunch to a lovely french restaurant for my birthday. It was a quaint place with authentic food, nothing Americanized. The comfortable weather and bright sun beckoned us to sit on the terrace. There weren't many people out there which meant we could look forward to a good conversation in private. Little did we know what this decision would mean for our "quiet" lunch.

Our waiter was polite and achingly charming. I am sure they were instructed to be this way toward the patrons, but in my opinion, there is a subtle charm and then there is a "I am obviously trying so hard to be suave and debonair" charm. I prefer the former. This one was the latter. With every stop to the table he felt it necessary to insert his personal touch with a comment about our order, or what we chose to drink, etc. At one point, my friend asked him about their upcoming salsa night. He couldn't have just answered the question? No! That would not have been debonair. Instead he grabbed her by the hand and gave her an informal lesson right in the middle of lunch. He wasn't even good. My turn to be the object of his affection came when he stroked my cheek after I ordered a dessert and gave me a side glance as if to say, "Of course, my little monkey. Would you like me to spoon feed you?" I glared at him. Strike one.

None of this really impressed me too much, nor my friend although she seemed to rather enjoy her mini salsa dance. After lunch we lingered over coffee and chatted a bit. To our dismay, this only gave Mr.Debonair more opportunities to show off his back alley lessons in Charming 101 (most obviously not a Harvard course). On one of his trips to our table he asked if we wanted more coffee. After we declined, I commented that I would need to be rolled out of the restaurant if I ate or drank anything else. What was I thinking? I opened myself up to this one..."Do you want me to carry you?" he replied as he flexed one arm as if to make a muscle. I glared again, "You couldn't handle it." This was strike two, also where the story really picks up so pay attention.

Mr.Debonair starts into a whopping story about how he was hanging out in a bar...blah blah...words were exchanged between him and some other guy...more talking...they were in an alley...something something...the other guy ends up on the ground. Then he took his elbow and pretended to strike it against my cheek. If that wasn't enough, he had to show my friend the exact same move falsely against her cheek, as well. Now, if you would've seen the look on my face you would have known that my patience was wearing very thin with this guy. Not only have I had to listen to this cockamamie story about his fete of strength against the biggest man in the city of Chicago, but he has come close to touching me, AGAIN! I rolled my eyes and cocked my head and said, "And where were the police?" His reply, which you won't believe, was "Oh, they don't care. Nobody saw but the two of us." Yeah, right. He obviously felt that we had had enough with that visit and he walked off. I turned to my friend and told her that he was full of it and I didn't believe a word.

At his next, and final, trip my friend asked him if he had killed the guy that he left unconscious in the alley. He replied, "I don't know and that's not my problem." And so here he his waiting tables at a nice French restaurant. The End. Ha ha, not so fast. He couldn't leave the conversation there; there's more. "But I saw him 2 weeks later, with 4 big guys that challenged me to another fight." So, apparently he had forgotten that he DIDN'T kill the guy. Are you shocked? Here's the rest of the story, well at least what I was able to remember after trying to tune him out. Four guys in a back alley AGAIN...just him with no back up...punch...blah blah...stomach blow...something...all four guys unconscious. Obviously not reading my signs that I was very much done with him, I asked sarcastically, "And again, where were the police?" He replied confidently, "Oh, they don't care. Nobody else saw it." Now isn't it so true that the biggest fish are always caught when nobody else is around? Strike three.

My friend knows the owner of this restaurant. A very pleasant man, I am sure he would not appreciate his wait staff commiserating with his patrons about bar fights. And I know that his patrons don't come to dine in a nice place to hear about them either. I was determined to talk to him and thought nothing about the repercussions. I felt that if this man was fired that it only served him right. I had to spare others from being victimized by his lies of machoism. But when it came down to it, I just couldn't. For all I know, he had worked hard to land a job in such a prestigious place. How fair would that have been considering I never outright told him that we weren't interested in his tales. After all, not every human is versed in obvious body language and facial signs. If he continued to act that way with others then he would quickly be writing his own ticket. I didn't need to write it for him.

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Fresh Box of Crayons

My favorite thing to do with my 3 year old during playtime is color. I mean, come on, who doesn't like to color? You can use your imagination in ways that nature never could. I love to color the grass blue and the trees pink. And let's face it, I can't get on all fours and play horsey the way I used to so coloring becomes a very attractive alternative to the rough housing she so enjoys. She loves to run to the coloring drawer with her little stool, climb to reach the handles, and slide the drawer open to reveal stacks of coloring books, many boxes of crayons and markers, and endless sheets of stickers. It becomes a wonderful creative outlet for her (and me, I must admit).

She has been coloring since she could hold a crayon. I still have some of her original artwork where she matched sticker colors with the crayons; a creative fete at her then young age. She will often quietly work on a certain picture, her lips pursed together in extreme concentration, carefully peeling stickers and tenderly placing them just so only to break the silence with a loud screech, "All done!" and flail her artwork in the air with one hand. The look on her face is priceless as I praise her for a job well done. I always ask her to sign it (in her scribble, of course) and I date it for posterity.

Recently we have found ourselves in a coloring frenzy. We are coloring at every free moment. She has matured to the age where she doesn't need the fat crayons, or the triangle shaped crayons, but can use a good old box of original Crayolas. I find that she prefers to peel the paper off the crayon before using it. For whatever reason, this is how she most enjoys coloring. Being a neat child, she is always careful about putting each crayon back after using it. But lately she has found that challenging. With such overuse of the crayons, and their increased vulnerability without the protective paper, they are breaking in half. When in the box, broken crayons leave what appears to be empty spaces for crayons only to find she can only get them half way in before being stopped by a broken piece. Oddly, this hinders her creative outlet, and mine too. Personally, I also find myself avoiding the crayons that have dulled and lost their sharper point. There is nothing like the smooth glide of a sharply pointed crayon along that special coloring paper. But after a while, abused crayons just don't have the same effect. The popular ones are most abused leaving the less desirable colors shoved along the back of the box.

It's time for a large, fresh box of crayons. Can you just imagine breaking the crisp yellow and green box open to reveal a multitude of colorful soldiers all in a row, the variety of colors many of which are a normal part of our vocabulary, and the smell of the factory fresh wax? Children and adults alike can appreciate the freshly wrapped paper on each one, beckoning for use in an inspired original. I can already sense my creative juices flowing just thinking about it.

In so many ways, our lives are like old and cracked crayons. We are dulled by overuse. We are vulnerable to breakage when left unprotected. Or we are shoved aside by the more popular and attractive. There are many areas in our lives that could use a fresh box of crayons, a new start, new ideas, and sometimes new people. Consider those things in your life where you are no longer creative or feel worn out. Be refreshed and renewed by a fresh start, whatever that may be. Be motivated by the memory of factory fresh crayons. Make it a box of 96 and avoid dulling with a built in sharpener.