This weekend, my dad is visiting from Vermont. This particular dad (I’ve had two since 1963) gives me regular blasts of shit for all sorts of things, such as: apologizing too much; offering to pay for dinner; and offering to pay for dinner while apologizing too much. When I do any of these things he laughs and/or tells me I’m a stupid jerk and/or makes floridly imaginative threats of a sort that don’t bear repeating, at least not right now.
He gave me an assignment before coming: “Choose a really nice restaurant for Friday night. A really expensive place. A place where you would never take the kids.” When I suggested I might help pay for this, he gave me shit.
And so I followed his orders. And so he’s here. And so it’s Friday night. And so we find ourselves at a high-end restaurant in downtown Albany that specializes in steak.
We walk in. We’re taken to a table (actually two tables pushed together, and if you think this is a superfluous and irrelevant detail, just wait) with a spotless white cloth and four spotless white napkins. For reasons we do not immediately comprehend, the waitress removes the white napkins and replaces them with black ones. The four of us sit: me, Dad, my son, my daughter Jeanne.
Gee, we say to each other. I wonder why she did that. Hmmmm. That’s so weird. Ha ha ha.
We’re brought menus, which light up upon opening and irradiate our faces like tiny airport runways. This entertains us greatly. My kids and I have never before witnessed illuminated cartes du jour. No, we don’t get out much.
Drinks arrive: for me, red wine; for Dad, a DRY BEEFEATER MARTINI UP DIRTY OLIVES. That is an exact quotation. I am not martini-literate, and I have no idea where to insert the punctuation in such a drink. All I know is, he is quite particular about his DRY BEEFEATER MARTINI UP DIRTY OLIVES, and I do nothing to question the classification of this concoction or disturb him in the imbibing thereof.
Then I do something exciting. I pick up my wine glass, take a sip and set it down again gently. Except I do not set it down again gently. Instead I set it down with violent results upon the mismatched tectonic fault line between the two pushed-to-together tables. The wine glass falls. It spills its glorious red contents onto the heretofore spotless white cloth.
I say: OH NO! I’M SO SORRY!
The kids say: MOOOOM! HAHAHAHAHA!
And Dad says: HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
And then Dad, wanting to make me feel better, hands me his DRY BEEFEATER MARTINI UP DIRTY OLIVES and says: “Here, have a sip.”
And I say: thanks!
And I take a sip. And once again I do something exciting. I place the DRY BEEFEATER MARTINI UP DIRTY OLIVES on the same mismatched tectonic fault line where I placed the glass of wine approximately 18 seconds before.
And it does the same thing. It spills.
Again I say: OH NO! I’M SO SORRY!
The kids say: MOOOOM! HAHAHAHAHA!
And Dad says: HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
Only everything is louder: my OH NO’s and I’M SORRY’s, their HAHAHAHAHAHAHAS. Jeanne is laughing so hard, with such forcible heaving, that she seems to be endangering the structural integrity of her head; cracks are forming along her temples.
A waiter bustles over. I apologize to him. Our waitress bustles over. I apologize to her. Two other young men bustle over. I apologize to them. The waitress returns; I apologize again to her. In short, I apologize to everyone within and beyond reach of apologizing or, as Dad puts it, “about 3,000 people.”
Most of all, I apologize to Dad for ruining his DRY BEEFEATER MARTINI UP DIRTY OLIVES, but he is far too amused by the spillage, the sight of Jeanne’s impending head rupture and the spectacle of Rampant-Ass Amy Apologizing to feel the pain of separation from his most excellent and favored drink.
Anyway, replacement libations arrive in short order. I offer to pay for them. He gives me shit. We sip them calmly, keeping them far removed from the problematic tectonic schism so inconveniently placed near my right forearm.
That’s when we notice something: the reason for the black napkins. One of the bustling young men had grabbed one such napkin and spread it over the spilled alcohol, effectively covering the bleeding wine stain.
Hmmm, we say.
We look around at other diners. Everyone else has white napkins. Everyone else, that is, but the one other table with a youngish kid.
We were profiled. The black napkins are obviously rapid-response spill-cleaning apparatus for diners with children. Waiters see a party come in with a kid, they swap out the white napkins for black ones, figuring that particular group of diners has a much higher likelihood of klutzing out and knocking over drinks.
And our dinner party did indeed. But not because of my son. Because of me.
Let this be a lesson to you: If you run a restaurant, and you see me coming, remove everything from the table. EVERYTHING. Napkins, tablecloth, glasses, dishes, food, drinks: all of it. Bring me my meal in a pillowcase, then take me out the back kitchen entrance into the parking lot and pour it over my head.
And if my Dad is with me, just be sure to get him a DRY BEEFEATER MARTINI UP DIRTY OLIVES. He won’t let me pay for it, but I’m pretty sure he’ll give me a sip.
8 thoughts on “dry beefeater martini up dirty olives”
Honestly and no joke, some of your posts need to have an “empty bladder before reading” warning.
Thanks, Meredith. Or rather: sorry!
Rather like Jack’s PERFECT MANHATTAN STRAIGHT UP WITH A TWIST. Cheers, Amy!
Ha! Clanking glasses with him in spirit.
Hey, what was that unnamed expensive steak restaurant (on Broadway perhaps?) doing pushing uneven tables together like that! I expect perfectly even tables at that price.
My friend and I were profiled at an unnamed expensive steak restaurant an put next to the kitchen door in an otherwise empty place. guess we didnt get prime seating! If i Ever go back to that place I will insist on black napkins, however!
Restaurants will also sometimes switch from white to black napkins if a guest is wearing dark clothing, so the guest does not end up with little white nurdles of napkin lint all over a black outfit. Were you all wearing fashionable Johnny Cash black to dinner on Friday?
Nope, not really. Maybe my dad wore dark clothing, but the rest of us wore a mix. And there were plenty of other people in plenty dark clothing, and their napkins were white. I want to thank you for inserting the word “nurdles” into the conversation, though!