I don’t have all day to wait for inner peace.
A gathering of four boomer couples possibly marked the moment our waiter pondered other careers.
From the moment Bob met us, it was clear that he needed to raise his voice, bolster his stamina and hoist his attitude towards aging if he had any hope of getting a decent tip.
His first glimpse that this was not going to be an easy night was likely the moment that Karen picked up the menu. “I can’t see any lamb brisket!” she shouted, squinting to read the food choices. “If there’s no lamb, I’m leaving!”
With a wordless flick of his wrist, Bob beamed a cellphone flashlight onto the offending menu, calming Karen like he’d snuck a valium into her water-filled tumbler. “Ah,” she said, “they have lamb.” She looked around the table as if she’d won a sixth-grade spelling bee.
Seasons 52 was veiled in low romantic lighting. The mood was wasted on us. We were there to eat, not make footsies under the table. Their motto should be: Looking for a night out? Bring your own glow.
Bob deftly took our drink and food orders, to our background playlist of crabbiness. “Why is everything called infused? What’s infused anyway?” “Ten dollars for a glass of Chablis? Who do they think they are?” “Flatbread? Why don’t they call it pizza? Who do they think we are?”
This isn’t his first boomer rodeo, I thought. Bob knows his way around a table of old folks. Immediately followed by: Wait, I don’t belong with this group of geezers. I tried to sit back to show Bob and anyone else who might be looking that I really wasn’t with them. More like I was their chaperone. With friends like these, who needs toilet paper stuck to the bottom of their shoe?
After appetizers, the men seemed to doze off. Just like a man, we women mind-melded. Our unified eyeroll heralded a call to the ladies’ room. We wordlessly elected Karen as our leader to blaze a trail through the shadows. True to the reputation she had acquired upon her arrival, her vocal inquiry for directions halted all tête-à-tête throughout the restaurant. We followed her like lambs to slaughter, ambling eyes straight ahead til we arrived at the restrooms. Throughout our journey, we were bedazzled by Seasons 52’s trendiness. Dim lighting, cloth napkins and unisex bathrooms.
Our meals arrived, and, as if on cue, we all settled down to the task at hand. Chop, chomp and calls for “Waiter! Damn it. What’s that boy’s name again?” splintered the ambiance.
Our wishes were Bob’s commands. Water and wine glasses were covertly filled so we didn’t need to ask for a thing. Bob and his legions of backup servers seemed attuned to our needs. Or maybe their needs. Perhaps they just didn’t want to hear our complaints and questions and calls for freebies. “Darn it, at these prices, we should be able to get all the bread we want.”
Some of our demands were boomer renderings of confusion. When Bob appeared with a display tray of desserts, Jack said: “What the hell is this?” Bob patiently explained every morsel on the tray. It seemed to take a long time to get through them. Not eating them, just hearing about them. Some of us weren’t sure if we were gluten intolerant, lactose intolerant or just intolerant. We requested painstaking detail about the ingredients in each item, as we shrieked with delight. When it comes to dessert, we boomers are connoisseurs. Bob was tolerant. His face was as impassive as the Mona Lisa’s.
Dabbing the last traces of chocolate and cabernet from our lips, we group-panicked in the realization that there remained a final fearsome task. Do we split the bill evenly or ask for separate checks? While we mulled our options, Bob appeared, and in what could only be viewed as sleight of hand, produced four checks, wine divided equally among them. No questions, no protests.
Even Nate, our cynic, was hushed. “Impressive,” he mumbled.
Craig pulled out his tip card and asked “How much is a tip these days? Is it still 10%?”
Nate replied, “I don’t know. I think it’s higher. Isn’t everything?”
Karen shouted, “What’d he say?”
Doubting my friends’ inclination to reward Bob decently, I nudged my husband. “Let’s make sure to give Bob a good tip.” Tip is from the Latin, meaning “your misery will not go unrewarded.”
As we went our separate ways, I marveled at the evening. Bob’s aplomb was a gift in which our compromised vision, impaired hearing and diminished comprehension were issues for other people, not us.
There was no tip large enough.
The names have been changed to protect the guilty. But my evenings out with friends often replicate this very real event. I am learning patience, slowly but surely. And, isn’t that the beauty of aging? We see our foibles reflected in the antics of others, which makes us shut up…or stay home alone.
Hello, I’m Janet, career coach, writer, workshop leader.
I help women create their best lives through personal writing.