Baked Goods

At lunch, Deborah and I discuss date night options.

“If we go to Pizzeria Uno and get stuff off the 2 for $12 menu, I get bonus points on my credit card,” I propose.

She’s not overly thrilled by this quasi self indulgent idea of mine and says she thinks it will be too much food with limited choices.

“They have salads on there as items,” I weakly counterargue. “Plus, more credit card points means more free airfare when we go to Tasmania next year.”

This Tasmania idea came to me the day before, when my sister had sent me some pictures of my dad’s Australian ancestors, part of a geneology research project my niece and nephew are pursuing in school. My paternal grandmother and her tribe hailed from Tasmania, eventually migrating to Melbourne AUS where both my pops and I were born.

“We can eat ourselves to a trip down under,” I say, smiling persuasively, I hope.

The Tasmanian adventure concept, as abstract and distantly in the future as it is, goes over a bit better with Deborah.

“That’s appealing,” she says. “But still, I don’t think they will have anything I want to eat. And really? You only want to spend $12 on date night?”

“What do you mean?” I ask. “$12 is a totally normal price for a typical date night meal. We’ve paid less than that before.”

Deborah rolls her eyes and I think I understand her confusion.

“Not $12 total,” I say. “Each. It will be like $25 bucks or so total, depending on drinks and tax and whatnot. I am not that much of a cheapskate!”

“Yes. You are,” she says.

“I’m frugal,” I counter. “Not miserly. Plus, now that the unlubricated financial sodomy of Foster’s vet bills is behind me, I am feeling a lot less stressed about money.”

Deborah laughs at the visual metaphor, almost spewing yogurt across the table in the cafeteria at work.

I point out that, in fact, it is actually her turn to spring for date night, not mine, and I pull another Ace from my sleeve.

“Since it’s your turn, how about this?” I enquire. “If we go there and you get a 2 for $12, then I will buy to get the CC points, and you can do the next date night. But if you decide against the 2 for $12, then you buy, per protocol. Everyone wins.”

She ultimately agrees to Pizzeria Uno as the locaysh and shortly after we get home from work, we head out for the eatery. I drive.

We get seated right away and a young man appears, introducing himself as our waiter. I don’t think much of it when he seems thrown for a loop by my request for water with no ice. But when he returns to take our order, Deborah and I both notice that he appears completely stoned out of his gourd, literally not understanding what we are ordering from the menu.

We speak words…

“I want the baked haddock with grilled veggies and steamed broccoli as sides,” Deborah says.

He looks at her dumbfounded and seems to have difficulty putting his pen to paper.

“Um...sides?” he queries.

“Yes,” Deborah replies, holding up the menu and pointing. “See here it says the baked haddock comes with two sides. I want the grilled veggies and the steamed broccoli.”

“Um, OK, yeah,” the waiter says slowly and eventually scribbles on his pad.

My order goes only marginally more smoothly: A salad and a deep dish pizza single as my 2 for $12 selections, as well as an appetizer of pretzel bread sticks.

As an afterthought, Deborah asks the waiter, “Can I also add a walnut salad for $2.99 to my meal?” This completely shatters the waiter’s fragile eggshell mind. Deborah again points to the menu where a graphical bubble indicates the discounted add on to her haddock dish.

About 5 minutes after taking our order, the waiter returns and asks Deborah, “What did you order again…the stuffed chicken?”

“Um, no…the BAKED HADDOCK!” Deborah says, exasperated. He leaves again and we look at each other with amazement.

I am fully entertained by this comedy of errors, of course. But Deborah not so much. She is more inclined to be the heckler at the Comedy Club of Life.

When a blonde manager woman stops by the table next to ours, whose patrons had the same waiter, Deborah flags her down.

“I hate to ask this,” Deborah says to her. “But is our waiter on something? He just seems really out of it.”

The manager says she will check it out and I am now certain our food will be spit upon, possibly repeatedly.

Needless to say, the food takes forever to arrive. The pretzel bread stick appetizer comes out with the main meal, not before it. Weak. The grub is all really tasty though and no visible signs of sputum are observed.

The walnut salad doesn’t manifest, so Deborah reminds the waiter about it. When it comes, it is lacking the very walnuts that give it its name.

“Ah, no walnuts,” the waiter says. “That’s what’s missing.” Deborah and I look at each other in pure disbelief. He returns a minute later with a small bowl of candied walnuts.

The blonde manager stops by our table as we are eating.

“Thanks for letting me know that,” she says. “I am going to send him home.” She doesn’t elaborate, and we are not sure if we should feel good or bad about this news.

“I don’t want to get hepatitis from this food,” Deborah says after the blonde manager leaves. I am not entirely sure how to interpret Deborah's comment. Does she also suspect the presence of salivary secretions in her walnut salad? Or is she proposing intravenous drug use as the underlying cause of our waiter’s dimmed wits. The waiter’s arms are covered in tattoos, so perhaps she was making reference to “bad ink.”

In any case, we finish eating and the blonde manager, not the waiter, brings out our bill. We assume the waiter has been dismissed.

I look at the bill immediately, with certainty that our waiter’s math skills are fully compromised, and I am correct. Deborah was charged $5.99 for the walnut salad rather than the $2.99 special add on price. We bring this to blonde manager’s attention and she apologizes and recalculates the bill, giving Deborah the walnut salad pro bono for all our troubles.

As we leave, we see the confused waiter still working tables.

“I guess they didn’t send him home after all,” I say to Deborah.

“I wonder if she was just giving us a line,” Deborah responds.

“I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt and hope that he just had to close out his remaining tables,” I say optimistically, though not really believing it. “If it was me, I would have at the very least given us a free meal voucher or something to make up for that. A free salad doesn’t quite cover it.”

Deborah and I both agree that it will be a long time before we go back to Pizzeria Uno for a date night, notwithstanding the great tasting food. As of this writing, neither of us has come down with raging hepatitis. Whew!

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