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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Olive Story

I do not like olives. Neither the black ones, nor their green, pimento-stuffed cousins. When I order a salad or any such foodstuffs, I always make certain that olives are not a part of the dish. I tell wait-folk that I am allergic and that my throat will swell shut and I will fall to the floor in a seizure if so much as an olive pit passes my lips. That usually does the trick.


Imagine my surprise when I was tucking into a salad recently and came across one of the little black devils clinging to the outer tines of my fork. “What’s this?” I asked myself, shaking the fork gently to rid it of its olivitian passenger. Normally, I would have simply pushed the offending fruit to the side and continued my meal, but the waiter had proven to be a lollygagger and had repeatedly shown the patronizing attitude that is only born of entitlement, diligent practice or love of the same sex.

Since I was feeling chippy and the waiter was in desperate need of being put through his paces, I called him over as he passed, carrying one of those oversized peppermills that could have been used as a weapon, had it been in the hands of someone who wasn’t entitled, well-practiced in the art of condescension and most likely in love with someone of the same sex.

“Excuse me, Garrett,” I said, flashing a winning smile and gesturing him over with my fork.

“And how may I help you?” he smiled back. Condescension – game on.

I want to begin by saying that I was in the restaurant business for over twenty years and wore my share of white shirts, bowties and tasteful black aprons. I can open a bottle of wine and use a crumber with the best of them. And one thing I always prided myself on was good customer service. That’s why I made good tips. That said, I am an easy-going patron for the most part, always say “please” and “thank you” and usually overtip.

Unless I am patronized.

“Remember when I ordered this salad and asked that there be no olives?” I asked. He nodded patiently. I pointed the fork at the black intruder that sat on the edge of my plate like a little turd. “What does that look like to you?”

To his credit, Garrett did not say “a little turd?”. “Looks like an olive made its way onto your plate, doesn’t it?” His tone dripped with sarcasm. “I’m sorry… I see you’ve eaten half the salad – would you like me to have the kitchen make you another using the extra-heavy-duty de-olivizer?”

I smiled, also patiently – two could play this game. “No,” I said. “Let’s leave the de-olivizer in its case for now… What you can do is ask the kitchen to kindly make me another salad and when you bring it out, also bring me a blindfold.”

“A blindfold?” His smile faltered . 15-Love.

“Yes,” I said. “I would like to eat the salad blindfolded so that if there are any olives hiding beneath the crispy bed of iceberg lettuce, I will simply ingest it and go into anaphylactic shock, at which point my throat will swell shut, I will flop around on the floor like a river trout and most likely foul my britches.”

“You were serious about the allergy-thing?” Garrett asked, eyeballing the olivette on the edge of my plate. “I figured you just didn’t like olives and that was your way of making sure none ended up in your salad…”

“Dead serious,” I said. “Oddly enough, the same thing happens when I eat strawberries and fish. And most crustaceans, especially shrimp, which are shit-eaters, you know…” Once I have a head of steam, I usually feel obligated to roll with this line of patter – I feel it gives the story 25% more believability. “It’s a treat,” I added.

The patronizing look faded from Garrett’s face and he swept the plate from the table. “Who knew?” he said, in one last attempt to remain relevant in the conversation. I shrugged. “I’ll have the kitchen make a new salad,” he said, his tone nearing that of contrition.

“Can I just get that to go?” I asked. “I have to get back to work.”

I watched Garrett hustle off to the kitchen and almost felt bad for telling him the fib about my olive allergy. Almost. I cradled my chin in my laced fingers – it was nice to know I still had the touch if I needed it. It takes a certain breed of patron to properly browbeat an entitled, gay waiter with a well-honed tone of condescension without them even realizing that their brow has been beaten. And, yes folks, I am that douchebag. It’s a good thing that this power is only used for the betterment of mankind and to improve restaurant service, otherwise I might – dare I say it? Rule the world...

And who said no good story ever started with someone eating a salad?

Remember to vote Jerry Ford for King in the upcoming election. It’s a write-in vote, so please use good penmanship.

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