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#9: An After-Lobster Dessert?

Stories of some of the stupid things that I’ve done have been retold so many times that they’ve started to take on a life of their own. My sons have heard these from various sources, and have started to re-tell them, in spite of the fact that they weren’t alive when the actual event happened. Such is the case with Stupidity #9.

My wife and I had been married less than a year, and I was putting in a great deal of unpaid overtime in a car-stereo manufacturing facility. The plant manager was a good guy, and wanted to say “thank you” in a tangible way for my efforts. One afternoon, he handed me his company credit card and said, “Take your wife out to dinner tonight at a really nice restaurant. Both of you deserve it after all the hours you’ve been putting in.” (I ignored him using a preposition to end a sentence with.)

Happily, I snatched up the card, and that night headed to a place known for fine dining, and high prices. I didn’t want to take advantage of my boss, but I had no problem with taking advantage of the company that was asking me for 60+ hours/week, and it wasn’t coming out of my boss’s pay.

Now, to appreciate the oddity of this situation, you would have to know a bit about me. First of all, I’m a simple guy. I have simple tastes. At one point in my life, I was taking PB&J sandwiches for lunch every day of the week. It didn’t bother me a bit. Growing up, I felt that dinner at McDonald’s was a big deal, and something of an extravagance. In addition, fancy restaurants are something I drove by, not something I entered.

So picture this simple guy, a newlywed, who is seriously strapped for cash, putting on an ill-fitting dress-shirt/tie/sport-coat combo, and cruising into this nice place with big-shot swagger and arrogance. Why shouldn’t I swagger? I wasn’t paying for it. I was out for a night on the town, wife in tow. When it came time to order, I naturally found the most expensive dish, which happened to be lobster.

It was delicious.

As I finished finding creative ways to extract every last morsel of meat from the shell of this unfamiliar creature, the waiter, sensing the end of the ordeal, came by with a plate in hand. On the plate was a steaming towel and a slice of lemon.

Did I mention that I was inexperienced at fine dining?

Unsure of what to do, but not wanting to appear to be a dork, I took a huge bite from the lemon slice (thinking it was to “clean my palate”), put the slice back on the plate, wiped the lemon juice from my face with the towel, and put that on top of the lemon slice.

The waiter stood there, in apparent shock. I have since determined that he probably had never seen someone do this before, and was trying to decide if he should wait until he got back to the kitchen before erupting in laughter. My wife, in similar shock, sat there with a stunned expression on her face. As soon as he left, she spoke.

“What were you thinking by doing that?”

“Doing what?” I asked. I honestly didn’t think I had done anything out of the ordinary.

While trying to pretend that she was in another zip code, she offered “You’re not supposed to eat the lemon. You squeeze the juice out onto your hands to get the butter off of them. That’s why he brought a towel.”

“Oh,” then after a pause, I admitted, “I wondered about that.”

To this day, if we are eating at a restaurant and my sons have lemons (served in ice water or along with seafood), they will subtley pass them down the table, and present them to me for dessert.

I believe this is why some species eat their young.


1. A Fool and his Words are Soon Parted » Stupid Human Trick #9: An After-Lobster Dessert? - January 5, 2006

[…] When you go with me to a fancy restaurant, there’s no telling when my stupidity will bear fruit. […]

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