Stu and I, along with wives, went out to eat at the local version of Good Italian Pizza Joint last night. A place reverently admired for their unabashed use of garlic and other delights to make paunchy middle aged kids a little bit paunchier.
We've been there many times. We seated ourselves and were mentally rubbing our hands in anticipation of a great feed. The young waitress approached, flushed with an anticipation of her own, because the legendary Stu and Outfoxed Show had arrived and it meant but one thing for her - a generous tip.
We do tip to excess. None of that 15% crap here. We ply favoritism in the most ancient of ways, by embarrassing the server's into submission by our very largess.
So it was a mutually happy meeting of provider and consumer until Stu was asked what he would like to drink. I always get a kick out of him when he replies to this question, his face takes on the beaming look of an expectant father. "I'll have a cold Coors Lite, please. One from deep in the cooler, a beer cold enough to hurt my teeth, with just a touch of ice clinging to the bottle." And with that he will sit back expectantly, and I will offer my standard follow-up, "Make it two."
The waitress was quick to reply, "Oh, we're out of Coors Lite. Would you prefer Miller or Bud instead?" She made it sound so casual.
Stu half rose from his chair. "Well, that's it. Guess we're gonna have to settle for Chinese tonight. They might not have pizza but they damn sure have Coors Lite. I'm outta here."
The waitress signaled her alarm with fluttering hands. "Oh please don't go! Do you really have to have Coors Lite?"
Stu was firm. "Positively. There's really no other way."
"But . . but we ran out and the beer guy isn't due in until tomorrow!" She was getting a little anxious.
Stu settled back in. "Honey, there's a supermarket right across the parking lot. How about running over there and picking some up? We can wait. And bring some garlic knots too, be so kind." The calm expectancy in his voice was unnerving her, there was no denying him. No Coors Lite? Well then, let's go find some. Case closed. I chimed in with my two cents, "Yes, and make darn sure it's cold, the colder the better."
"Uh. . . yeah, let me see what I can do. Do you want the large or small sized garlic knots?" Instead of a verbal reply, Stu and I merely cocked an eyebrow to the obvious, and our waitress melted into a trembling "Ohh, okay." She trotted off as Ally shook her head wearily. "You guys really ought not to pick on these waitresses. It's not their fault that the place ran out of beer."
"But honey", I said, "They didn't run out of beer. They ran out of Coors Lite!" I'm sure the sound of amazement for such an unthinkable situation was clear in my reply. "Besides, we're not picking on her. She'll figure that out here presently."
Within a few minutes the (large) basket of steaming garlic knots arrived and the waitress breathlessly said "Your beers should be here any minute." Stu nodded and popped a particularly garlicky knot into his mouth, chewing blissfully, all but smacking his lips at the flavorful morsel. Ahhh, hot garlic knots with the extra garlic on top and a smattering of liquefied garlic at the bottom of the basket. Heaven.
We foraged through the knots like so many goats at the feedbag. To his credit, Stu only once remarked (loudly) about how much better they would taste if only he had something frothy to wash them down with.
There was a sudden commotion at the rear kitchen door, running feet were heard, a sudden screeching stop of sneakers on tile. "Ought to be any second now", I said, holding my wrist up where my non-existent watch would normally be.
On cue, the young waitress appeared with beers in hand, smiling and happy, setting them down with a flourish, and Stu with equal aplomb lofting one to his garlic encrusted lips and chugging away contentedly. "Is everything okay now?", she asked, turning to go.
"Just a minute, my dear", I interrupted. "Did you buy a twelve pack or a case?"
"Oh, I . . . really don't know. I'm not 21, we had to get the delivery guy to go over to the store to get it. Should I go find out?" The nervousness was back.
"No", said Stu picking up on my thought. "But I have the feeling we'll find out all by ourselves. Simple process of redundant ordering, don'tcha know. How's our pizza order coming along? He didn't have to run over to the store for that too, did he?"
"Oh no sir! That's all made right here!" She was sweet, in her relief at being able to give a happy reply.
"Hokey dokey, let's move along. Better get started on another round, if you're headed that way."
She dashed off. Ally and Pat made clucking sounds as Stu and I chuckled evilly. The game was on. "Bet she knows it was only a twelve pack. If we hang in here long enough, we'll clean her out again." There were actually only 3 Coors Lite drinkers at the table, Ally was having none of it and was sipping iced tea. And Pat, well, she drank Coors Lite for dinner purposes only. Unlike Stu and I, who are professionals and train for this sort of thing on a daily basis.
The pizza arrived and the beer flowed and we went through both of them like the cloud of locusts that we are. I yanked the last slice of pizza from the serving tray just before Stu could make his move, and he leaned back and pouted a little bit. "You're interrupting my snack, my good man." Only he doesn't say "snack", he says it in an affected Swedish accent and it comes out more like "shhhhhnaaak". Not that it made any difference, I was already down to the garlic salted crust by that time.
"What's the beer count?", Stu asked our waitress as she whisked by yet again. He was studying her with chin in hand, the very picture of concern.
She whipped out her pad and consulted. "Ten, you're up to ten", she said.
"Very good. How about bringing us two more and we'll call it a night." She slumped in relief and fled to the kitchen.
Ally giggled. "Looks like you called it. I really think they only got a twelve pack to get by. Think we ought to order one more for Pat, put them over the limit?"
Stu smiled. "Now, that just wouldn't be sporting. That would be downright mean. Fitting, but mean."
For the final time, the waitress stopped by with the bill and Stu tossed a wad of cash on the table without even looking at it. She picked it all up and murmured "I'll be right back with your change sir", already in gear and in a hurry to seat the throng of people at the door.
"Oh, don't worry about it", he said. "You're a pretty fair waitress, you know that?" He stood and bowed, and I made the usual clasped hands genuflection to demonstrate respect for the world of good waitresses.
She looked slack jawed at the money in her hand. "Oh thank you sir!" Thanks a lot!"
"No no, thank you!" We all said that.
We wandered out to the car with a casual stroll. "How about a nightcap?", Stu wondered aloud.
We don't have a drinking problem, we really don't.
Unless they run out of Coors Lite. Then we have a problem.
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