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2013/08/31

TMI Questions: Hey Waiter, Over Here!

Love eating out!  It is one of my all-time favorite things to do.  Ever since I was a little tyke, when we could only afford to go out to eat once or twice a year… restaurants have fascinated me.  I love the pageantry of the food coming out of the kitchen, the companionship provided by good friends, the waiter as our guide, and candlelight.

As with most folks these days, I have a lot of experience eating at restaurants and therefore… some very strong opinions about what makes for a great dining experience.

TMI QUESTIONS:
Questions designed to reveal Too Much Information

Link: http://tmiquestions.blogspot.com/

Hey Waiter, Over Here!

How often do you eat out?

Eat out?  Define your terms.  Oh.  There’s a waiter involved?  (Well, sometimes there is.) I don’t sexually discriminate against those in the service industry, especially when they allow me to service them! 

But we’re talking about food here, huh?

I eat out at least once a week, usually twice.  It used to be a lot more, but I have this habit – that totally flies in the face of reality – of liking to pick up the check.  That gets expensive.  Talk about a check my reality cannot cash!  So, rather than change that behavior I choose to limit my exposure to restaurants.  Makes sense?  No, not really.  But then logic rarely figures into how I deal with social situations.  I keep picking up the check in the hope that others will follow my lead, but so far… not many have stepped up to the plate.

Typically:

  • During the week, one business related lunch. 
  • On the weekend, one fun dinner with cocktails.
  • Sometimes I sneak a Happy Hour in there.

I used to eat out a lot more when my Dad was still mobile.  It was a great way to get my Mom out of the house.  I miss those days.

Do like trying new places?

Yes and no.  I hate being disappointed when it comes to food, but I am more likely to get pissy when confronted with a dirty restaurant.  Sticky chairs?  Fingerprint covered condiments on the table?  Food splatter on the wall above my booth?  Filthy restrooms?  Nothing upsets me more.

And then there’s the décor.  Fake foliage with a year’s worth of dust coating it?  Ugly or misguided decorating decisions?  Uncomfortable chairs?  Wobbly tables?  Overcrowded dining spaces?

All these things can make me regret trying something new.  Yet I do keep looking for new places because, on occasion, I am extremely surprised and pleased.  When pleased, they become my new haunt until I reach a point of saturation where the honeymoon is over and I start seeing other flaws. Or maybe I simply get bored.

That said, I will give a new place (provided it is clean) several tries before reaching the conclusion it is not for me.

Thankfully, I have my diehard favorites to fall back on. 

As for new food types/genres?  Oh, yeah.  Currently trying raw food and vegan places.  Always game for something different when it comes to food. 

How do you feel about chains vs. individual restaurants?

While individual restaurants can be a dicey affair – if you have ever watched ‘Kitchen Nightmares’ or ‘Bar Rescue’, you know what I am talking about – I prefer them to chains.

Lots of people open restaurants with no idea of how to run a restaurant, no idea what good food and service is about, and/or no idea how to make it profitable.  A friend of mine who is in the business always says the key to customer satisfaction is to “cherish the guest”.

I personally witnessed firsthand, for three years, a tiny, family-owned restaurant with great potential implode due to wide spread dysfunction, bad service, and a pigheaded owner who refused to make changes.  All the ingredients for success were there (great location, good food, great prices, good ambiance), but the nightly floor show involved the family members screaming at each, storming out, or threatening to shut the doors once and for all.  The wait staff was primarily composed of the stubborn owner’s offspring. 

One had a chemical dependency problem and would frequently show up (if he bothered to at all) heavily under the influence.  I was there the night his dealer came in waving a gun, demanding money.  That was fun! 

The other son was simply lazy.  He had no interest in the restaurant (or working at all, for that matter).  He would drink from the moment he got to work, with his service getting sloppier and sloppier and his swearing getting louder and louder.  He was handsome as hell, but a total dick.  
Then there was the daughter.  She was in charge of the front of the house.  She had three children.  They came to work with her sometimes.  Or she didn’t come to work.  When she did, she and the owner screamed at each other like no one was watching.  It was the sort of dinner theatre I really liked. 

For some reason, the public did not cotton to the overall vibe of the place, despite the cozy décor, the incredible pasta sauce, and the reasonable prices.  They had to close due to lack of business.  Dumb bunnies.  All they had to do was watch a couple of episodes of Kitchen Nightmares and, with the help of some self-awareness, mend their ways.  The place could have been a gold mine.   But no.  You can’t help stupid.

As for chains… I used to simply eat food.  Now I dine.  I also cook a lot more these days, as my diet has significantly changed (about two months ago).  So I now have an appreciation for food that is prepared and presented in a manner that honors the food and my stomach. 

Chains?  They tend to dumb everything down to a couple of categories: Deep Fried Everything, Make It Super Spicy, Make it Super Bland, and, my least favorite, Let’s Put Something On The Menu We Don’t Know How To Prepare.  With the exception of the last category, all the other atrocities are committed in order to cover up the poor the quality of the food. 

This stuff is factory-produced boil-a-bag garbage.  Many chain restaurants are little more than microwaves with stuff glued to the walls.  Most of the sauces contain substances not found in nature and there seems to be this trend that the more stuff stuffed into something and the more things that cover that stuffed something, the happier the customer will be.  I don’t understand that concept at all. 

The idea of fresh food served simply and well seems to escape most chains.  Obviously, I am not their demographic.

Do you usually have a preference of where you sit?

Not in the middle of the room.  I have many enemies (real and imagined) and can only protect myself from so many angles at a time.

I prefer booths to tables. 

I don’t want to sit near an entrance or window. 

I don’t want to sit in the alley or in the mens room (near is fine - and kind of fun).

Do you order dessert?

Rarely.  Not a fan of sugar.  But I have a frequent companion who is a sugar fanatic.  He will order something, but only if I promise to have a bite, which I do.  While it may not be true of other activities in my life, in this case, one is always enough.

Where won't you eat?


  • Chillis, Applebees, TGIFs, Perkins, Embers, etc.
  • Steakhouses
  • Public Toilets
  • Food Trucks
  • Fast Food Places

I used to enjoy fast food once a month, typically late at night, after some really, really over-the-top shagging.  On my way home I would hit the drive thru.  Something about great sex with strangers and fast food seemed to go hand in hand.  But I’m over it. 

Or, it could be that I just no longer have great sex with strangers.  

Hmmm….  Chicken?  Egg?

Kids in restaurants are ______?

Up for grabs?   Food?   Taking hostages?

The correct answer is…

Taking hostages.  Or at least taking my evening hostage.  Children in public spaces are terrorists.

I hate kids in restaurants.  Especially babies and those of an age where crayons being ground into placemats are necessary.   Mom and Dad?  Do the world of adults a favor… get a fucking babysitter.  Your screaming toddler is ruining, not only your dining experience, but mine as well.  

And that makes me hate you.

This is what I would love to do:


And when they run around, unsupervised, like they are at the playground?  Who is that fun for?  Not me.  And for god’s sake, please clean up after your rugrats.  Dining out does not give you the right to come in and leave copious amounts of food on the floor, chairs, and tables.  You know who has to clean that up?  That waiter that hates your guts as much as I do.

So, leave the kids at home. 

Or bring duct tape. 
Do you have any 'rules' for when you eat out?

Don’t like something?  Then eat elsewhere.

While it’s okay to request that something be served without onions, it is not okay to rewrite the menu to suit your personal dietary preferences.  Don’t see anything on the menu that fits your needs?  Then eat somewhere else.

Do no harm.  Do not make a scene.

Do not snap or whistle to get your waiter’s attention.  If they seem oblivious of your presence, rise, walk over to them and politely remind them that you exist and are a paying customer.

Be nice to your server.  They are human beings with feelings.

A brief story to illustrate this last point:

For a couple of months, three years ago or so, a friend of mine and I would attend a regular Sunday night out with a bunch of rather interesting characters.  For some reason we got adopted by this group and my friend was interested, so I went along for the ride.

They would meet at the same restaurant at the same time each Sunday.  The conversation was always interesting, though I think, considering it was a group of gay guys, they found my contributions a bit… ummm… racy!  I never tired of shocking them.  They were from a different generation; when apparently being gay meant keeping secrets and sex was not something to be laughed about. 

I began referring to them as ‘The Wax Works’. 

The place they dined at was super gay and featured horrible, old-time supper club food.  But the cocktails were strong, so the evening went by well enough.  Though they all gave me the evil eye when it came time to tip the waiter, because, well, the old buzzards were fucking cheapskates and I always made them look bad.

One evening, we had a new waiter.  Our ‘regular’ waiter, who had been waiting on this group for years, and knew all The Wax Works’ dietary preferences and behavioral idiosyncrasies, had called in sick.  Apparently that list of special requests was quite extensive, for the poor fellow never seemed to get the hang of it and when he made the mistake of delivering a martini with olives to the den mother of the group – well, all hell broke out.  The man proceeded to have a fit, loudly dressing down the waiter and refusing to accept any type of apology.  Then the others joined in, each one being just as unreasonable as their leader.

The waiter made a mistake that could be easily fixed, and certainly did not warrant such a dramatic reaction.  After all, nobody died.  Nobody was pregnant.  Nobody was going to jail.

However, it proved to be the last straw for me.  One cocktail into the evening, and with a recently arrived uneaten entrée sitting before me, I rose, followed the waiter to the kitchen where I requested the check for the group, paid it, apologized for the group, handed the waiter a substantial cash, over-the-top tip, and walked out without ever looking back or saying a word to those horrid men ever again. 

Rudeness to those who are doing their best, but struggling to help you is something I will not and cannot abide. 

Better to say nothing, leave a minimum tip and never return to a restaurant than hurt someone’s feelings or cause a scene.  That’s just how I feel.

Maybe it’s because I’m from a different generation.     

Do you tip the waiter in cash or on credit? How much?

Typically on a credit card, but (see above) to make a point, sometimes in cash. 

I used to wait tables (many lifetimes ago) and I still have many friends in the biz, so my tips tend to be very generous.  I only give ten percent tips if the service was discourteous, contentious, or non-existent.  If they were terrible, but desperately trying they get fifteen percent.  Twenty percent if the service was perfunctory and indifferent.  After that?  Well, it can depend upon how much I’ve indulged and/or flirted.   It will also depend on the number of people in my party and whether or not one or more of them were rude, self-indulgent, made the waiter chase, or asked way too many questions/made too many demands.

I understand what it is to earn minimum wage.  I no longer do, so I make sure to reward good service or any act of kindness, because I know that server is counting on that tip money to pay rent.

People who under-tip or refuse to tip at all?  There is a special place in Waco,Texaa (also known as ‘hell) reserved for you.   Right next to Ted Nugent, Anne Coulter, and Michael Vick.

Bonus – Bonus - Bonus
People describe eating as a sexual experience. Would you?

No.

I’ve had great sex. 

Trust me, food is no substitute.

Have you mixed sex and food?

Only three times: this freaky, super tall and thin church organist with a giant penis was into Hershey’s chocolate sauce.  Standing in the shower, he would pour it all over me and himself and then we would go to town on one another.  The third time we did it, all that sugar made me sick and that… was the end of that.

It was the end of the church organist, too.

Does the possibility of sex after dinner affect what your order?

Well, I so very rarely ‘date’, in the traditional sense.  And I guess this should really have been filed under ‘rules for when you eat out’, but I feel that when you are dining with someone you don’t know very well it is best to:


  • Limit yourself to one cocktail.
  • Avoid garlic, and other potent smelling foods which may lead to bad breath
  • Never order something that may digestively disagree with you or produce gas
  • Never order something you know nothing about (see above)
  • Never order soup (slurp, slurp)
  • Never order noodles (slurp, slurp)
  • Order a salad only if you know it will arrive chopped up fine enough to be eaten without making a mess
  • No corn on the cob – not only is it messy, but it will get stuck in your teeth

So, I guess I am saying: no potentially-messy, potent-smelling, difficult-to-eat, or mysterious food.

So, have the mashed potatoes.  But only if there is no garlic in them.

Remember… a glass of water is a perfectly safe choice.  But careful not to spill on yourself.   Or dribble.

NEVER go to a BBQ restaurant on a first date.  I did and had to resist the urge to wipe my date’s face, mouth, chin, etc. throughout the entire meal.  Needless to say, it was a one and only date and he got no nookie from this cookie.

And finally, skip dessert.

You never know… that man sitting opposite you might just be a freaky organist with a giant penis!

















Puttin' On The Ritz - Taco


Eat It - 'Weird Al' Yankovic


Tom's Diner - DNA feat. Suzanne Vega


Alice's Restaurant - Arlo Guthrie


Scenes from an Italian Restaurant - Bill Joel

2013/08/27

TMI Questions: Happy Birthday!

I like to celebrate other people’s birthdays.  I like the idea of everybody growing older as I remain the same age.  Yes, somewhere there is a portrait in an attic…

Sadly, I become rather typically gay-male and something of a stupid, vain old cow when it comes to birthdays and growing older.  There are parts of me that embrace the aging process, just as there are parts of me that foolishly believe they can defy it (look at me, I’m Melanie Griffith!).

I had my last birthday several years ago.  I made everyone in attendance swear that it was the last time they would force me to face my own mortality (the mirror in my bathroom does that quite successfully every fucking morning). 

So, be honest, Sean.  This whole TMI… it’s just your way to find out just how old we all are, am I right?

Fuck you. 

(I kid, I kid.  Unless… you…. like that sort of thing?)

Yes, when it comes to birthdays, I am like Endora on ‘Bewitched’ – utterly humorless (unless it’s at someone else’s expense).

TMI Questions: Happy (fucking) Birthday!

TMI QUESTIONS:
Questions designed to reveal Too Much Information

Link: http://tmiquestions.blogspot.com/

Do you enjoy celebrating your birthday (forgetting about the getting older part)?

No.  I typically ignore it.  On occasion friends or family will insist on something, which I negotiate down to meeting at a restaurant I like for drinks and dinner.  Being the control freak I can sometimes be, I try to limit the number involved.  Sometimes I’m successful.  Two years ago I was not, and we ended up taking up way too much real estate at a real nice restaurant and I ended up feeling like I didn’t get to talk to anyone (I so rarely see people).  It felt like a wasted opportunity.  Though it was good to see everyone – I just wish it had been under happier circumstances.

That said, I don’t see what there is to celebrate.  Yay?  I’m still here?

Well, depending on one’s point of view, I guess that could be a good thing.

What's your sign and is it accurate?

Aquarius – I am a Valentine’s Day baby!  That is the only part I like about my birthday.  I never had to suffer feeling overlooked on Valentine’s Day, because I get attention whether in a relationship or not – hence, no Valentine’s Day blues for this baby!

Aquarius Traits
The humanitarians of the Zodiac, the Aquarius are inventive and modern individuals. Honest truth-seekers, they are broad-minded and creative people. The new, novel and modern have a magnetic allure in the amiable Aquarius’ world. Friendly, gregarious, candid, the Aquarius are popular people in their circles. No wonder they have innumerable friends! However, the truth is that the Aquarius may have many acquaintances, they may not be really close to anyone in particular. In fact, they may be quite detached and changeable.

Positive Qualities of Aquarians
Veracity, Legitimacy, Investigative spirit, Pleasing personality, Candor and Innovation

Negative Qualities of Aquarius
Inconsistency, Disinclination, Detachment, Tendency to deviate, Inefficiency.

Famous Personalities
Abraham Lincoln, Charles Darwin, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Boris Yeltsin, Dick Cheney, Franklin Roosevelt, Michael Jordan, Paris Hilton.

Accurate?  Well… yes.  Yes, I have so much in common with Albert Einstein (sex addiction), Boris Yeltsin (borderline alcoholic), Dick Cheney (delusional, mean asshole), Michael Jordan (rapist) and Paris Hilton (no-talent slut).   Gee… I feel so… special.

I must admit I am a total airhead; easily-distracted, scattered (oooh… shiny object).  I so want to be creative, but fear it’s a muscle that while exercised frequently, has never functioned properly (could be a birth defect, could be due to oxygen deprivation). 

I have met a lot of people who have wanted to be my friend, but I seem incapable. Friendships seem to happen frequently, but not for long.  Also, being a total introvert, I tend to avoid crowds of people… or any people, actually.

The positive/negative traits listed are pretty on the nose, save for that ‘pleasing personality’ part.  But then that depends on how you interpret it; I am eager to please others, however, personality-wise I am a bit of a crabby-patty.  Hand me a boodles martini (up, olives, side of ice) and you will find I become much less so.

What's your Chinese zodiac sign and is it accurate?

Chinese Zodiac Sign: Metal Ox
(Is this whole line of questioning just a way to ‘out’ me, regarding my age?  Sean, fess up.)

Element
The Metal Element allows the Metal Ox to be the most intense, determined and motivated of all the Ox signs. The Metal Ox needs to be engaged in practical pursuits, where it is then possible to display their passion. One must know that the toughness of the Metal Ox should go without question and the same can be said for their loyalty and dependability. More so than any of the other Ox's, the Metal Ox lives life with a foundation of morals and tradition.

(I have never been very practical.  Typically, I resort to such only in light of some catastrophic creative failure – call it my recovery mode.  Determined?  You betcha.  But these days I am more likely to spot the folly-to-come before committing any resources.  Yes, I am sadder, but wiser.  But, really – richer for it.)

Career
(Cah…. Wha?  Huh?  Oh, THAT thing.)

The highly motivated Metal Ox has very few limitations as long as they keep their passion. In this sense, the Metal Ox can pursue any genuine interest they desire. With a strong sense of values and justice, the Metal Ox could do well in politics or law, which as the case for Metal Ox Barack Obama. Similarly, there are been several successful entertainers, among them being George Clooney and Forest Whitaker.

(Very passionate when I want to do something.  However, there are fewer and fewer things (and men) I want to do.  Politics?  Ummm, only if you want a scandal.  And yes, let me entertain you – wink, wink.)

Warning
(I like that this comes with a warning!)

At times, the Metal Ox can seem arrogant, but realize that this is a product of their determination turning into impenetrable stubbornness. To overcome this potential downfall, the Metal Ox has to spend time to develop an open mind. In the same sense, the Metal Ox can often be too blunt for most people's taste and should be aware of their ability to offend. Be aware that when the Metal Ox is too committed to their own views, it is not unusual for clashes to occur!

(I have been accused of being intimidating and once, by a passive aggressive manager of being physically intimidating (I can’t see how.), and I am the first to recognize when I am being pig-headed and have therefore come to limit the number of things in this world that I insist upon.  I am blunt (horribly so), and thus, have a tendency to offend.  I love a good debate, so clashing with others is rather second nature for me. I can be horribly contrary, on purpose, just for effect.  The human condition is of great interest to me, so on occasion I will do or say something just to get the balls in motion. Mmmm… human stew.)

Body
Those born under the Metal Ox sign have the added benefit of strengthened lungs and large intestines. Metal Ox's are encouraged to not threaten these vital systems with unhealthy habits.

(I am happy to learn of the vigor of my large intestines – it explains why 300-500 crunches a day seem to have no effect on that part of my body.  I hope my liver is also well fortified.  My lungs, on the other hand, are not what they used to be (one of them is a bit crushed on the bottom).  Was really hoping for some other organ of significant size, but, based on what nature has provided, apparently that was not in the cards – not that I am complaining – it just would have been nice to have one physical characteristic that I could have built a career on.)

What was your best birthday?

Honestly.  Probably that last one at that restaurant with way too many people.  The guest list was a total surprise to me – people I hadn’t seen for years.  The best thing?  My parents were there.  My Dad was still mobile then (he is currently housebound).  Someone took lots of pics and I pretty much stuck to his side the whole evening.  He looks so happy in the photos (and fragile).  So, it was bittersweet.  Fortunately there was plenty of wine to go around.

Nothing compliments bittersweet like alcohol.

What was your worst birthday?

When I was ten my folks insisted we go to these friends of theirs on the night of my birthday – which meant no cake, no special meal for me.  No friends to stay overnight either.  So, I was in a pissy mood and acted up quite a bit, which angered my mother – a force in those days that you did not want to mess with (hormonal imbalance).  I was distraught because no one seemed interested in celebrating my birthday. 

My mom yelled at me the entire way home and once we got in the house gave me the spanking to end all spankings.  Not only did it hurt, but I really felt way too old to be spanked.  So, I was outraged, embarrassed, frustrated, and emotionally hurt.

Then – kaboom – my mom drops all these presents on me; a ton of Hot Wheels related items that I had been dreaming of – and a cake.  I could not believe she had gotten me what I wanted and had found a way to afford to do so.  That said, the whole thrill was tainted by what had preceded it.  It was emotional whiplash.  Here: I will beat your ass. Here: now be joyously happy.  Well, I couldn’t be happy.  It all felt creepy and sad and I hated every bit of it, but didn’t want to hurt her feelings so pretended to be deliriously happy. 

You know the album cover for that Hole album, ‘Live Through This?’  Yeah, that’s how I felt.

And – here’s the thing about all those toys I so loved; they never worked the way they showed them on T.V.   There was always something wrong with them: they wouldn’t stay on the track, they were out of balance, the batteries ran out too fast or wouldn’t hold a charge – always something.  Same goes for those electric race car sets.  I just had no luck with that kind of thing which made for many frustrating disappointments. 

Frustrating disappointments…

…you know, kind of like birthdays.

What has been your best age so far?

The Bronze Age

All that copper.  It was a good thing.

Sure beat the Stone Age. 

Stupid rocks.

You can take those stupid rocks and shove ‘em up your ass.

Birthday cake?

Cake, yes.  I like white cake.  I like some chocolate.  No pink, yellow, or other weirdness though. I like homemade cakes, made from scratch best.

Frosting, no.  Hate frosting.  Though there is a wonderful butter cream made with Wondra flour that I do like, in small doses.  

And what is with commercial bakers and their need to make every cake with a gazillion colors, inedible candy confetti, and in neon colors?  I hate those cakes.  They don’t even qualify as food.

Growing up our cakes were typically those tiny, square Pepperidge Farm cakes from our grocer's freezer.  The frosting was weird, like something that was never food, and the cake had this odd texture and taste, too, because it used to be frozen (or still was – sometimes my Mom would forget to defrost them before serving). I liked the white ones and the ones with coconut on them. Like eating small, sweet pillows.

Bonus Question:
Is birthday sex expected, a present or a rarity? Do you get spanked?

Can’t recall a single time when I got laid on my birthday.   

I always intended to be, but, like Christmas and New Year’s, I always seemed to be between boyfriends.  So, seeking out some strange in all the wrong places, blah, blah, blah – and on Valentine’s Day, no less.  Talk about your recipe for failure.  What else can you expect, but severe disappointment?  Of course, when desperate and in bar mode, I tend to drink - not an attractive combination, trust me. 

I wish I wasn’t such a transparent goon, but… eh, it could be worse. Better to scare them away than have them wake up remorseful the next morning (maybe that’s why I never actually ‘sleep’ with my tricks anymore).

As for spanking: I do get spanked. 

But never on my birthday. 

As a matter of fact, there is currently an ‘older coach-type’ that wants to warm his hands on my backside.  I’m waiting to see a pic before committing.  I’ve been around long enough to know what ‘older coach-type’ is code for.  You know… an older, softer version of ‘football player build’ – wink, wink.

I don’t mind a good spanking at all.  Within limits.

OTK only.  No props!

(And afterwards, if you’re good, I’ll let you cover my cakes in your personal frosting.)

All right… blow out your candles, Laura.  

(Thanks, Sean!)


















'Happy Birthday' - The Ramones


'Yer Birthday' - The Beatles


'Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy' - Ren and Stimpy


'New Happy Birthday Song' - NOFX


'Happy Fuckin' Birthday' - Vaginal Discharge


'Happy Fucking Birthday' - Combichrist


'Happy Birthday!'