When a woman sets out to spend on herself the two things of which we all have the least - spare time and extra money - she expects certain rewards.
If shopping, she wants nice salespeople.
At the gym, she wants the trainers to look like the guy in the Diet Coke commercials.
On vacation she wants endless hot water in the shower, moonlight, someone handsome to wink at her and the promise that if she calls home the phone won’t be answered by a paramedic.
In a restaurant, a woman wants simple things. Food that arrives without a toy. Conversation that doesn’t include the phrase “Quit kicking me.” The lull of background music that doesn’t include drum solos.
Basically a woman eating out wants to be uninvaded. She has cooked for kids too long. Her table at home has a built-in penalty box in case the last drumstick incites a free-for-all.
We’re talking about a woman who can no longer distinguish between a linen table napkin and a cloth diaper.
She has left the kids with a sitter who hasn’t kept them before and is therefore willing. She has bought a book to read alone or invited a friend she hasn’t seen since they wore high school mums.
Or she has enlisted her husband, hoping to eat with him at a place where he can set his plate somewhere other than on his belly. Maybe she has a date.
She is out to dinner. She wants to eat and talk and laugh. She wants to listen. She hasn’t heard a complete sentence since the doctor in the delivery room said, “What do you mean you don’t want to do this? I forfeited greens fees. Just push.”
First thing she notices at the restaurant is that it’s a tad chilly. She doesn’t have to chew her food. She just lets her teeth chatter.
Oh, waiter, she says, it’s a tad chilly in here. He’s in Bermuda shorts, having fewer brain cells than facial hairs. Cold in here? Wow. The kitchen help was, like you know, hot, so we cranked down the temperature.
It’s 40 degrees outside. Maybe you could turn off those ceiling fans? Yeah man, he says, like I mean you know, I could, but I have to charge extra.
Fine, she says, but don’t bring any finger foods; her hands are numb. He warns her, you can’t smoke in here, this isn’t the smoking section.
But I’m not smoking, says she. That white fog is my breath!
The music is a tad loud, she tells him, not that she doesn’t adore Led Zeppelin, but she and her date would like to talk and they don’t know sign language.
The waiter screams. WHAT? She explains that there is no such thing as the lull of background heavy metal. He explains that the daily special was like, really, you know, good, but they’re out of it.
Her date has his plate set on his belly. He’s watching a TV over the bar, a heated game between two extinct civilizations.
A toddler is screaming hotly at the next table. The parents are oblivious, rooting for the extinct civilization in the blue uniforms.
When she came in she was flattered, thinking that everyone in the restaurant was staring at how great she looked. Now she realizes that she’s sitting under the TV.
She feels at home when the food arrives. It’s cold, and really she wouldn’t mind eating it that way except that it’s not what she ordered. Someone yells that she’s blocking the TV.
Loud music. Televisions blaring. Kids screaming.
Restaurants these days do offer a real down-home feeling to a woman. All that’s missing is a penalty box over by the salad bar.
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