1. “How many people in your party?”
I’m standing here alone. Do you think the rest of them are hiding in the bushes? Or is it pathetic that I dine singly? It’s okay if I eat by myself, you know. No one will be arrested, I promise. If it helps you adjust, just pretend that I’ve brought an imaginary friend who can’t actually eat or drink for religious reasons.
2. “Table or booth?”
Okay, wheel-chair and disabled access aside, why would anyone in their right mind take a table over a booth? I don’t want to sit at a little square on a spindly chair in the middle of the room, while heathens on the sidelines with grease dripping off their chins study me like a museum exhibit. I want something with more structural reinforcements, preferably along some wall where the lighting is poor and traffic is low.
Unless, of course, you have crappy booth seats with little shock absorption. I also don’t want to be menaced by Thunderina the Hyper Bear Cub in the booth behind me, launching me into the stratosphere every time she bounces while telling an insipid story about who she saw at Dairy Queen last night.
3. “Would you like a nice, cold margarita?”
It’s 9:30 in the morning! I’ll just have a beer.
4. “Would you like an appetizer to start things off?”
Sweetie, I’m not even in my seat yet. I haven’t opened the little booklet that you shoved at me. Can you give me a few seconds to break the crusty salsa seal so I can pry the pages apart and see what you have to offer? (Do you ever wipe these things down, or are the stains supposed to be part of the charm?) Can you just go get that beer and let me get my reading glasses out? Let’s hold off on the upsell approach for now. I’ll make some sort of hand signal when it’s okay to come back to the table.
5. “Is Pepsi okay instead of Coke?”
Would you rather have a dildo than the real thing?
6. “How would you like that cooked?”
Preferably while Pavarotti is singing in the background. If that can’t be arranged, some light jazz would be fine.
7. “Would you like the half order or the full order?”
Look at the size of my ass. What do you think?
8. “I’ll have that right out for you.”
I don’t believe you. You said that the last time I was here and it took three days before a speck of food showed up. I only kept waiting because I was too weak to leave. But, as I was fading in and out with my head on the placemat, I at least got to watch a drug deal going down one night between the guy who shampoos the carpet and the guy who empties the grease bins in the kitchen. (I know, I’m just as surprised as you are that they clean this place.) It was kind of fun, like being in an episode of “The Wire” where everybody was really, really hungry and willing to do whatever it took to score a chicken wing.
9. “Can I refill your water?”
I’ve taken one sip. The glass is basically full. Why do you want to top off something that’s already topped? Surely there’s something you can do back there in that kitchen besides hover and interrogate people. Maybe work on a better way to wrap the silverware in the napkin so I don’t risk losing a finger when I try to get the surgical tape off the little bundled corpse?
10. “That is the cutest blouse. I was just saying to my friend Dacie the other day that-”
Go get the manager.
11. “Would you like more chips?”
Um, we don’t have any chips at our table. Maybe you meant to ask that other table where they are using coasters to scoop out the queso. One of them just broke a tooth, so you might want to give them something free before they start posting on Yelp.
12. “Can I get you anything else?”
Since you asked, would you mind going to that table over there and explaining to Missing Link and No Teeth that, one, they should never produce any more offspring, and two, no one on this planet is interested in a story about surprise yeast infections. I promise I’ll write about you in my blog if you do. Go on, it’ll be fun.
13. “Save room for dessert?”
Honey, our bellies are so extended right now that the table is not even touching the floor. Flee from here and throw away that stupid dessert booklet that you’re waving about like the crabs are acting up again.
14. “One check or two?”
We’d like everything on its own ticket, please. Even the water. You never know what we might do after we leave this place, and we need to have flexible documentation for an alibi.
15. “Thanks for coming in, and have a sunshiny day!”
You’re getting a tip. Knock it off.
(Originally published in “The Sound and the Fury” on 12/03/10. Revised and updated with extra flair for this post.)