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When Your Guests Mortify You


Nina C.
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The scene was already set for the visit from hell.

For the past week, my dad and his partner have been staying on our pullout couch. My fiance's teeth stayed clenched as we dealt with an oven that broke in the middle of making Christmas dinner, the tension of in-laws bickering, and the passive-aggressive hell that only family can create.

The last time they visited, they told us they didn't want to spend a lot of money, so it was casual spots and dinner at home. But this time, my dad has been reading New York magazine, and the Time Out NY dining book, and had more of an eating agenda.

The first day, that agenda was lunch at Jean Georges, an afternoon of shopping, drinks at Pegu and dinner at P*ong. Not too shabby. Except at JG when my dad's partner proceeded to regularly leave the table for a cigarette right as the next course should have been served, and then during dessert, his cell phone rang *at top volume* and he answered it *at top volume*. Fortunately, my dad shooed him outside, but I still wanted to dive under the table as other diners shot him looks of death.

I thought I had survived the worst, until we were at Pegu Club, where I looked over and realized Dad's partner had removed both his socks and his shoes and was adjusting his corn pads. Need I even add that his feet are the smelliest I have ever encountered? I have never before drunk a Pegu cocktail so quickly.

What's the worst your guests have ever subjected you to?

The Kitchn

Nina Callaway

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Ouch. Tough story.

I once had a somewhat senile elderly relative take a leak just outside of a restaurant at which we had just finished eating. It was until that moment a restaurant that we frequented. :shock:

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- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

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Eeeek!

I must hang with a better crowd because until this point, my most embarrassing dinner companion took a call on his cell phone in the middle of dinner with the college chancellor. Now I realize it was nothing! (Although the chancellor never did invite us to dinner again...)

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Oh, God. My dad with his hand on the waitress's ass, and the poor woman so desperate for the tip that she put up with it. Horrifying all around.

The husband of a very good friend has a mortifying post-prandial habit of pulling out his keychain nailclippers (what? doesn't everyone have nailclippers on their keychain?) and clipping his nails at the table.

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Oh, God. My dad with his hand on the waitress's ass, and the poor woman so desperate for the tip that she put up with it. Horrifying all around.

Just *seeing* that or any kind of contact going on makes me cringe.

The husband of a very good friend has a mortifying post-prandial habit of pulling out his keychain nailclippers (what? doesn't everyone have nailclippers on their keychain?) and clipping his nails at the table.

The mere sound of clippers puts me right off my meal :shock: I used to work with a guy who's nervous fidget was to pull a clipper out and gnaw at his nails with it, thank goodness he never did it while we were at lunch!

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Oh, God. My dad with his hand on the waitress's ass, and the poor woman so desperate for the tip that she put up with it. Horrifying all around.

Just *seeing* that or any kind of contact going on makes me cringe.

I know. By no means do I intend to implicate the entire male gender, but I have to say that I see an awful lot of gratuitous touching of waitresses while orders are being taken. Is she on the menu? No? Hands off then!

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I know. By no means do I intend to implicate the entire male gender, but I have to say that I see an awful lot of gratuitous touching of waitresses while orders are being taken. Is she on the menu? No? Hands off then!

I do as well--Perhaps I'm overly conservative, but I don't find even a hug acceptable behavior unless I was a personal friend of the waitstaff in question, but sadly i see plenty of men going for a hug, an arm around the waist, a bounce on a knee (or a pat on the backside)

On the other hand, it's easy to say "you started it" to innumerable waitresses trying to fatten their tip. *shrug*

But all this isn't really here or there :hmmm:

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Wow if you want to see sexual harassment at it's worse observe what goes on at the clubhouse at most golf courses. You think you know people observe them at a golf club house.

I've heard horror stories about girls working out on the course beer gardens or what ever too. I think it's almost institutional, a given.

Guest that mortify you? I have one Aunt who actually looks forward to dining out so she can belittle the staff, very confrontational. Almost always insists on singing for the entire restaurant. If we have a family get together in public I make it a point to distance myself as much as possible from her.

"And in the meantime, listen to your appetite and play with your food."

Alton Brown, Good Eats

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Oh, God. My dad with his hand on the waitress's ass, and the poor woman so desperate for the tip that she put up with it. Horrifying all around.

The husband of a very good friend has a mortifying post-prandial habit of pulling out his keychain nailclippers (what? doesn't everyone have nailclippers on their keychain?) and clipping his nails at the table.

Dianabanana - I keep trying to decide which is worse - the corn-pad adjusting or the hand on the ass. I think I have to hand it to you. I can't imagine how one would react to their parent's indiscretions.

The nail clippers at the table would have me making snide comments of "Thank you, we've really had enough calcium in our food today."

The Kitchn

Nina Callaway

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My mother is a world class bigot. She believes with all her soul that anyone from a country other than the good ole USA is either stupid, inferior, or both. Nowhere is that mindset more apparent than when she goes to an ethnic restaurant.

She insists on taking us to her favorite Chinese restaurant every time we see her. She's been there probably 100 times and by now should have figured out that they all speak English, probably better than she does in some cases. But when the check comes she puts out two piles of bills. Then in a voice as loud as she can go (because we all know that if someone doesn't understand your language, just say it louder and they will) she points to one stack and the bill and screams "Dis for bill". Then she points to the tip stack of bills and screams "Dis for you! Dis for you! Each time the waitress says "Why thank you very much. I appreciate that." in perfect English. And each time I want to crawl under the table.

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I looked over and realized Dad's partner had removed both his socks and his shoes and was adjusting his corn pads. Need I even add that his feet are the smelliest I have ever encountered? I have never before drunk a Pegu cocktail so quickly.

And you didn't say anything???? I would have politely advised the "gentleman" that removing articles of clothing in a restaurant is extremely inappropriate and to please take himself and his smelly feet to the restroom immediately.

Seriously.

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any dinner with a specific member of my family that will go nameless. some of my favorites are: "my friend said you paid for his appetizers when he came here, can you do that for us?" and the numerous times he complains (once about a well done veal chop taking too long- about 20 minutes) and when the manager offers dessert, he'll order 2 for every person at the table, to go (he once ordered an entree to go after a manager offered dessert to make up for a complaint). I try never to return to a restaurant I'd visited with him.

Sandy Levine
The Oakland Art Novelty Company

sandy@TheOaklandFerndale.com www.TheOaklandFerndale.com

www.facebook.com/ArtNoveltyCompany twitter: @theoakland

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My ex-wife's sister. Every time I was forced to be in a restaurant with her I sat in anticipation of the little drama theater that was going to happen at some point that would get her a free meal. I think her record for fastest attempt was while placing her order: "What do you mean you are temporarily out of baked potatoes? That's what I wanted. Now I have to have something else. It should be free!". I hated it. I knew it was going to happen. I eventually blew up on one occasion and said "I'll pay for your damn meal, just stop bitching at the waiter. If you're too cheap to pay for a meal why do you go to restaurants in the first place?". We were never invited to a restaurant with them again so the evening with the cold shoulder from my then wife for doing that to her sister was well worth it.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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Along Pebs's line...

My father in law who at a chinese, thai, korean, japanese, or any other asian variety restaurant will say to the wait staff... "NO-MSG, NO-MSG" in made up accent, right out of a bad kung foo movie.

And then there's my friend's husband, who will spend the entire dinner telling us about all the money he has, about his wine collection, how the restaurant we took them to has an "okay wine list, but if they got a chance to look at my cellar...", has the waitstaff running back and forth to cover his every demand, question, and extra condiment request, and then leaves 14.5 percent tip.... I have taken to carrying extra bills in my pocket to leave on the table when we go out to dinner with them.

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I looked over and realized Dad's partner had removed both his socks and his shoes and was adjusting his corn pads. Need I even add that his feet are the smelliest I have ever encountered? I have never before drunk a Pegu cocktail so quickly.

And you didn't say anything???? I would have politely advised the "gentleman" that removing articles of clothing in a restaurant is extremely inappropriate and to please take himself and his smelly feet to the restroom immediately.

Seriously.

I could have, I should have. My only defense is that it had already been a hard visit, and I was hoping not to draw the attention of other patrons. Fortunately, it didn't last too long.

The Kitchn

Nina Callaway

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I looked over and realized Dad's partner had removed both his socks and his shoes and was adjusting his corn pads. Need I even add that his feet are the smelliest I have ever encountered? I have never before drunk a Pegu cocktail so quickly.

And you didn't say anything???? I would have politely advised the "gentleman" that removing articles of clothing in a restaurant is extremely inappropriate and to please take himself and his smelly feet to the restroom immediately.

Seriously.

I could have, I should have. My only defense is that it had already been a hard visit, and I was hoping not to draw the attention of other patrons. Fortunately, it didn't last too long.

How about to your father, after the fact? I mean, try and save someone else from a future occurrence by explaining the embarrassing fact that this guy apparently doesn't realize how inappropriate his behavior was... Damage control, you know?

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My sister's ex boyfriend came from a stuffy well to do Rhode Island Family.. The mother was not a fan of the Jews.. She came to dinner one night and I came down wearing a yamakah and did a prayer over the wine, over the bread, and of course used every Yiddish Expression I knew.. Needless to say it was a ROCKING DINNER and she didnt stay for dessert..

Edited by Daniel (log)
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How about to your father, after the fact? I mean, try and save someone else from a future occurrence by explaining the embarrassing fact that this guy apparently doesn't realize how inappropriate his behavior was...  Damage control, you know?

Ssshhhh! If she does that then she won't have any more great stories like this in the future, and I need them for moral support. Keep 'em coming, Nina!

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Oh, my grandfather ... I do love him dearly. But he's at that age where the little voice inside your head that stops you from saying potentially embarrassing things is silent all too often.

My grandfather has always been a rather outgoing individual and loves to go out to eat and chat it up with the waiter/waitress. By the end of the evening, he'll know where they are from, what high school / college they are attending, whether they are married and have children, etc. And unless we are in a real old-school restaurant (steak on one plate, potato on a separate plate, parsley to garnish), he assumes that being a server is a transitional job. Even in several of the high-end places I've taken him to.

We were dining in a local establishment about 9 years ago that I frequented on a semi-regular basis and my grandfather was doing his normal "interrogation" of our poor waiter. When he asked him what he was studying in school, the poor lad replied, "Vocal studies in opera." To which my grandfather replied (in an all too loud voice), "OPERA! What the hell are you going to with OPERA?!?"

I wanted to crawl under the table. Needless to say, the waiter received an extra large tip that night from me.

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It's doubly tough when you are out to dinner and the offender is your boss, not your guest. Squirm city! I would (and have) discreetly corrected a friend's faux pas, but really can't with my boss (tried once, after the fact - he was not amused). The funny thing is he claims to know a lot about food, but he mispronounces almost everything (from "foreign" food items to people's names), he doesn't know the difference between a T-bone and Porterhouse (thinking they came from different parts of the cow), I could go on. I cringe every time he asks if anyone wants an "expresso." I've worked for him for 10 years, and hopefully will last until his retirement (~2 more years). It's going to be a loooong couple of years.

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My sister's ex boyfriend came from a stuffy well to do Rhode Island Family.. The mother was not a fan of the Jews.. She came to dinner one night and I came down wearing a yamakah and did a prayer over the wine, over the bread, and of course used every Yiddish Expression I knew.. Needless to say it was a ROCKING DINNER and she didnt stay for dessert..

I really hope pork was on the menu, just to screw with her mind a little more! :biggrin:

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What is it with the nails, anyway? At a private party, the guest of honor, a groom to be, was a big-time entertainment attorney. He sat in the middle of the place, yanked off his shoes and socks, and trimmed his toenails. I am not making this up. (I also used to work for a blue-blood type in Cincinnati, who regularly trimmed his nails at the table in restaurants, as he talked.)

I know someone who was interviewing a smart, successful woman for a position at their company. A partnership share would be offered, and she had great credentials; they met for breakfast for an interview. At the breakfast table, while discussing volume and performance and ideas for expanding the business, she pulled out a sugar packet, opened it, and ate the sugar. And then did it again, and again, until all the sugar was gone. All the while talking away about projections and ways to gain market share. And then she pulled the jams, jellies and honey to her plate and started to eat that, too -- even using the little spoons that were in the jam pots.

Raised by wolves.

"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office
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Well, I thought my mom was bad but even she couldn't out do the toenail thing. (Gag!)

She loved to go out to eat. Even so she embarrased us to tears, especially in her later years. She was as skinny as a rail and she took obesity as a personal offence. More than once she had said, "Oh My God! He's (or she) fat. Did you see how fat he is?" and this in a very loud voice.

My sister and I both would try to shut her up but it was an obsession.

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And then there's my friend's husband, who will spend the entire dinner telling us about all the money he has, about his wine collection, how the restaurant we took them to has an "okay wine list, but if they got a chance to look at my cellar...", has the waitstaff running back and forth to cover his every demand, question, and extra condiment request, and then leaves 14.5 percent tip

i'm pretty sure i know your friend's husband.....

Edited by -sheila mooney (log)
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