“How’s everything tasting for you tonight?”
I grinned just enough to send her away but not let any polenta leak out, while a small shudder of revulsion danced down my neck. But the moment passed, and I went back to my dinner conversation.
“That was an odd thing to say,” I said. Dave nodded. Turns out it wasn’t odd at all. It’s the new script. It’s a Thing. No matter where we go, the server is going to come by all chirpy and ask us how everything is tasting for us tonight. I do not like this.
Put a complaint like this on Facebook, though, and nobody will tell you to lighten up, get a grip, move on, mention First World Problems, take the stick out of your shorts, or suggest there are more important things to worry about, even though someone probably should. No. You will instead generate a thread of similar complaints. Everyone’s bothered by something. Women don’t like being called “Miss.” Or “Ma’am,” if the server is younger. Or older. Lots of people would prefer not to be called “Hon,” unless it’s coming from a verifiable Southern woman bearing pie. Many people object to being told something is “no problem.” If I thought getting a little more water would be a problem, they huff, I wouldn’t have asked.
Well, personally, if I need more water and the server says “No problem,” I’m fine with that. I don’t deconstruct it: it’s an idiom. It’s been eased out by “No worries,” and something else will come down the idiomatic pike soon enough. I love “Hon.” I guess I’m not as prickly as I could be. So what is my problem with “How’s everything tasting for you tonight?” Why does that make me want to stab someone with my fork?
It’s not because it’s weird. It goes much deeper than that. I’m sensitive to words. And those words, in that order, make me squirmy. Squished-worm squirmy. Lanced-boil squirmy. I feel the same way about the words “soiled panties,” and it’s the words, not the items: “Dirty underpants” doesn’t ripple my nape at all.
So how is a modern server supposed to navigate all our crotchets? Maybe it’s up to us to file down our rough edges. Get a proper perspective. Fortunately for me, I have all sorts of perspective. I’ve got Lake Lucerne. As Dave says, “We’ll always have Lake Lucerne.”
Lake Lucerne was a dot on the map in northern California, and Dave noticed it when we were driving down to the wine country for our honeymoon. It was getting late. “That sounds pretty, and it’s only twenty miles this direction,” he said.
We found a motel room. They were still working on it. The bathroom was down to the bare studs in places, there wasn’t a shower curtain, and wires protruded from the walls. It was too dark to see the Lake, if there was one, but there was a restaurant, and the lights were still on. “Are you open?” we called out to the waitress, a capable-looking older woman, who had already begun putting chairs up on the tables.
“Sure, hon, come on in! I’ll be right with you.” Well, that was a bit of luck. We examined the menu and in due time our waitress came back with plates of something like Chicken-Fried Steak stacked on her arm. “Where y’all from?” she wanted to know, swinging everything down in a jiffy. We were in good hands. We smiled. We felt grateful and chatty.
“Oof!” she said, stretching her back. “Hope y’all don’t mind. My dogs is killin’ me!” And she pulled up a chair and took off her shoes and peeled off her socks and put her feet right the hell up on the table next to the bun-basket and wiggled her toes. Yes, she did.
I’m not sure how everything was tasting for us that night, but there’s no real way to ruin a marshmallow salad.