Thursday, December 14, 2006

WitzPickz (and you're not gonna effing believe this): Banding Together...Again.

That's right. Two out of Three Witz Posts involve banding together. And fight "GINGIVITIS!" This tale is a tale of a more subtle type of banding. The type of banding that usually does not result in banding, but in anger, insults, and sometimes, a furious or violent exit. This banding takes place in a restaurant.

The site: Buca di Beppo's. That's right, it was my first experience at the Italian chain and I was up for anything. I was therefore completely baffled when our party of six (My girlfriend's family and I) was led through the kitchen to the main dining room. Call me old fashioned, but it just seems like you shouldn't let people walk that close to the food you're cooking and setting out to serve. People are filthy, disgusting creatures. We cough, we sneeze, we have viruses we don't even know about, and then exhale them into the general vicinity. I don't need Patient Zero exhaling in the direction of my spaghetti and meatballs. But it was kinda cool going through the kitchen. You got to play the "which way ya goin'? This way? This way? Hahaha, OH Us!" game with the servers as they tried to enter at the other end. And that's always a joy. Also there was a table in there, which is either novelty cool or novelty health code violating. And what about the health codes? On the day of inspection before they opened, was the health inspector like,

"Ok, check, check, check...and you're good to go...unless you have anything else..?"
"Not unless it's a problem that we're going to lead every single guest through the kitchen on their way to their tables..."

Anyway, I'm over it. We got to our table.

Once at our table, I discovered the always baffling "Table Menu." Like the menu is on the sheet on the table. It's like an enema in the dark-- you never see it coming, but it's always surprisingly effective in the end. Yeah, that's a pun-- it's gonna be like this today, so get used to it.

Our waiter comes over and takes our "family style" order. There are two things here that bother me: first, the waiter is one of those social enigmas that doesn't know where the correct pauses go in conversation. One minute he'll be pausing after asking a question, and the next minute he'll be pausing with the same expression on his face AFTER we've answered the question. Which makes you think you've gotten the answer wrong. But when the answer is Fettucini Alfredo...and the question was "What can I get you tonight?" I have to think we're in the right. My other problem with "family style" is that to me, "family style" means "Involving long discussions that ultimately devolve into arguments resulting in angry, hungry family members who aren't even getting what they want and certainly aren't sure if they're getting the correct portions for the group or spending far too much money on the whole." I like "Witz Style." Here's how it works. "What would you like Witz." "Whatever Witz orders, fully aware of the food and the price." I don't know what Italian families did growing up, but I can't recall a single time in my life where my mom and dad sat down for our family dinner and said, "It's family dinner. Here's the Fettucini Alfredo, Ravioli with Meat Sauce, Linguini with seafood, and Pizza!" That's too many pastas. You make one. There are other days in this life and if you don't die of a heart attack, you might live to have another one of the five main courses that you would like to eat. Just my opinion.

So we order, the waiter simply stares at the menu items we've circled, Cam Jansen's the whole thing, and leaves without even taking out a pen. It is then that we notice the table next to us. They are a super loud, rollercoaster ride of entertainment and annoyance, ranging from "BEER! WOOOOOO!" to "It's a mole! It's a COUNTRY MOLE!" when referring to one of the presents that they are passing around to each other. They've clearly already eaten, worked through about ten bottles of wine for the eight of them at the table, and are all large-ish middle-aged men. I think Hootin' n' Hollerin' is the best way to describe them. They are apparently on at least the third round of joke gifts and show no signs of stopping.

So we wait

And our salad comes. It is delicious.

Then we wait...

And the grandma's pizza comes...which we all eat ravenously. Sorry Grandma. And besides, food only weighs people down. The elderly need to be light on their toes--nimble. We were doing her a service.

And we wait...

And we wait...

Where the hell is the--

This is when a nice looking lady accompanies our conversationally impaired waiter to the table. Whenever your waiter needs assistance at your table, and you're not at a strip club, you can be pretty certain something bad has happened. In this case,

"Hi folks, how are we this evening? It looks like your ticket disappeared somehow, so your entree order never got placed! So what we're gonna do is, we replaced the order, it'll be ready in about 10 minutes, and Aaron's gonna treat you to your meal tonight!"

This is a) awesome-- our 100 dollar meal is suddenly free b) great-- their service doesn't suck, we just got screwed over and will get food in 10 minutes c) really crappy for Aaron, who I somehow think DIDN'T want to buy dinner for us tonight. Shit-- 100 dollars? How do you possibly lose a ticket in the-- d) AHA!!! OUR TICKET WENT MISSING IN THE KITCHEN, EH? Well how could that have happened? Certainly not the easy access by EVERY SINGLE CUSTOMER IN THE PLACE! Here's a note for you all: EVERYONE EATS FREE AT BEPPO'S! Just excuse yourself shortly after ordering, walk through the kitchen to the bathroom, snag your ticket on the way, wait an hour, and SHAZAM! free meal. Free 100 dollar meal? How bout that vindication, eh? Biblical in proportion!

Speaking of which, our food arrived ten minutes later and was Biblical in portions. The plates were huge and delicious, and we managed to smile politely at Aaron and nod thankfully when he set down our bowl of mashed potatoes, not Green Beans that we ordered in front of us. So much for photographic memory. That's ok though, for 100 bucks, Aaron can buy me whatever food he wants.

This is just about the precise moment when EVERYTHING GOES NUTS. The big party next to us suddenly starts passing out crapy gifts to everyone around them. CD Cases, Shrek Chia Pets, Hats, Halloween Costumes, Christmas Mugs all get handed out jollillilillilly to all the tables and booths around us. The birthday boy a table over gets a gift. The people next to us who arrived later but got their food first get a gift. We get candy canes and christmas mugs, and oh yes, that shrek chia pet. We give some candy canes to the next booth and they inexplicably trade us for the cd wallet which I actually need. The Gift Men are singing and drinking and throwing gifts around-- literally, and there is a mound of food in front of me and 5 more around the table and it suddenly becomes clear to me that our section of this restaurant has BANDED TOGETHER! Forget annoyance, anger, late food, segregating birthdays-- we are one! We talk to each other and shout to determine the worst gift of the bunch. The birthday posse gets the birthday boy's (and when I say boy, I mean 30 something 300 lb. Samoan dude) picture taken with the drunken Santas. We eat the rest of our meal as part of a group. A great big, drunken, birthday ridden, holiday group, with none of those adjectives overlapping each other. Separate entities banded as one.

As we leave, we thank the gifters and ask who they are. "We're all friends from high school. We make a pact to spend one day of the year for the rest of our lives just getting together and having fun, so that's why we're here." Now that is banding together. A thirty year pact fulfilled at a family style, kitchen accessible, waiter-impaired restaurant. I'm just glad we were there to be a part of it....well and for the free meal....and the cd wallet....

Happy Holidays,

1 comment:

Sarasaur said...

I kind of feel bad for poor Aaron. Did you at least give him a candy cane? Happy Holidays to you! Hope you have a terrific week!