By Robert St. John
I am an easygoing guy. I rarely get mad. Though when I do, I usually choose the healthy path and internalize it.
I’m also pretty good about minding my own business. If someone outside of my scope of friends and family wants to be an idiot, I have no problem letting them follow that chosen path. Actually, I have been known to cheer morons on as they stumble down the toll road to stupidity.
Occasionally, the idiots get the best of me.
The other day, I was eating sushi with my wife. It was a nice lunch, just the two of us. The 14-year-old was not there asking to be driven somewhere, or to be taken on a shopping excursion to fill her already-full closet.
The 10-year-old wasn’t across the table with one of his loud electronic gadgets. I never once used the words, “Stop doing that.” or “Turn that down.” It seems that no matter how many gadgets I confiscate from him in one sitting, he manifests another one. One would think he stashes gaming devices in his underwear, but we can’t get him to wear underwear.
No one was complaining about the choice of restaurant and I never once used the phrase, “Why did you order that if you’re not going to eat it?”
It was a pleasant and peaceful adult meal, with mature conversation. Sometimes, there was no verbal exchange at all. The two of us have been together for 23 years. We are the caveman couple. We can have an entire conversation using nothing more than grunts, shrugs and hand signals.
All was well. Life was grand. There was peace in the valley and raw fish in my belly.
To my left was a table of teenage girls. They were quiet, too. No one was talking because all four of them were texting. It turns out they were texting each other.
Typically, I would spend a few minutes here ranting about teenager’s texting. But I won’t because they were being quiet. Besides, they never once complained about the guttural growls, violent hand gestures and primitive stick figures being drawn on the wall over at our table.
Here’s the beef
On this day, my beef was with the table on the other side of us. For the first half of the meal, a woman was sitting alone. She, too, was texting. But she was minding her business, so she gets a pass. In fact, she was probably texting the four teenagers wondering why the couple at table 23 was roasting a Wooly Mammoth tableside.
Halfway though our meal another woman joined the single lady. It was around this time that the idiots got the best of me.
She sat down and pulled a huge bag from McDonald’s out of her purse. My wife looked at me with her most intense just-ignore-it look, gave me a few warning snorts and kicked me under the table. I gave her the go-back-to-your-cave-drawings grunt.
I have no problem with McDonald’s. I ate a cup of their oatmeal just before typing this column. I have a problem with people bringing outside food into restaurants. It drives me mad. I don’t care if it’s for the kids, just go somewhere and eat with your kids, or have a full-scale brawl like my family does when trying to decide where to eat. Everyone might wind up at the restaurant bloody, bruised and bandaged, but you’ll be in a place where everyone can order off the same menu.
My face was probably way past red and headed towards a deeper shade of purple, when I realized this 40-year-old McIdiot had no kids in tow. This was a big bag of McDonalds for her.
She pulled out two huge cheeseburgers and a monstrous order of fries to go with her large soft drink. She didn’t even have the courtesy to order a drink from the restaurant. I was spewing sushi and hurling eye daggers by the time she ended her meal with one of those apple turnovers.
▪ Note to all idiots: If you don’t like sushi, never agree to meet your friend in a sushi restaurant. Better yet, order the teriyaki.
▪ Note to friends of idiots: If your nimrod lunch companion brings a giant bag of fast food to your lunch meeting in a full-service restaurant, you need to meet new people.
▪ Note to all restaurant patrons: If the couple sitting next to you is communicating through grunts, shrugs and hand gestures, just ignore them. Chalk it up to 23 years of wedded bliss.
Robert St. John is a restauranteur, chef and author of numerous books.