Sunday, December 30, 2012

Fun At Restaurants

Fun at Restaurants

I’m the kind of guy who likes talking to people at restaurants, particularly the staff. I enjoy kidding around with them and love it when they have a sense of humor.  Unfortunately my wife, son and daughter-in-law do not share this view and are pained when I do this (almost every time).

Occasionally I will do things in jest that others take seriously.

The other day, I had hired two men to do some physical labor for our office.  When they finished, I offered to take them for pizza since it was lunchtime.  One of the guys said his wife was coming to get him and could she come along.  I agreed since I was ordering a large pie and that would give 2 slices to everyone.

The wife arrived with her sister and immediately declared that she had just come from the doctor and a dietician and was not allowed to have carbohydrates, but her sister would join us.  She and her sister sat in the next table since pizza would violate her non-carbohydrate rule.

After a minute or two she asked, "since she was not eating would I mind if she had a beer."

After doing a double take, I asked her laughingly, “Let me get this straight, you can’t have pizza because it is a carbohydrate, but a beer is ok?”

“Well,” she answered, I really need that beer.”

About half way through the meal I turned to her and said, “You know, you didn’t have to give up the pizza. Didn’t the dietician tell you calories don’t count between 2 and 5PM?”

“Really?” she replied, “I didn’t know that, why didn’t that damn dietician tell me?”

“I don’t know, perhaps she is not up on the latest research,” I said.

Her sister then asked, “what if it’s 8 o’clock?”

“No, no, that would be after 5,” I answered.

“Oh, Right,” she said.

I returned to my pizza.  After a minute or two, I turned back to them and said, “You know about the weekends don’t you?”

They stared at me.

“Calories don’t count on weekends either,” I stated.

After 30 seconds the sister looked at me and said, “You were kidding about the calories, weren’t you?”

Realizing I had gone a little too far, I answered, “Well, only about the weekend,” and went back to eating.

I found this quite amusing.

There are a few other times that I think rival this, the following is another one.

Barbara and I were in a pancake house with another couple.  At the end of the meal the waitress came over and asked if there would be anything else.

“Yes,” I said, “you can give the check to that table over there,” pointing to a random couple at another table.

Now when I say this to other wait staff, they usually ask if I know the other people, or look at me askance, or laugh.   That was not the case here.

“Ok,” she said and left.

My wife, lacking my sense of humor started glaring at me.  Our friends looked on confused.

The waitress presented the check to the other table.

I watched amused as the guy tried to figure out how his bill was so high since it was just the two of them.

Barbara called over the waitress and insisted I tell her to get the check back. 

The waitress had assumed (you know what they say about people who assume) immediately ran over and grabbed the check away from the couple.  I offered to pay both checks to appease Barbara, but the guy at the other table had a sense of humor about the whole thing and laughed with me and the other couple with us.  Barbara of course, much to my amazement, was not amused.  The waitress was somewhat flummoxed about the whole thing.

The last incident I will mention (I seem to have a lot of anecdotes but will only mention one other) actually was unintentional on my part (no, really).

Barbara and I, along with our kids, my parents and friends of my parents who I had known since childhood were eating at a Chinese Restaurant near my home.  It was of course a Sunday (see Jewish eating traditions).

It was the couple’s anniversary.

I slipped away from the table and went to pay the bill in order to secretly treat them for their anniversary.

Not wanting them to know I had done that, I asked the owner of the restaurant to tell them that it was the restaurant’s policy to treat everyone at the table when a couple were celebrating an anniversary.  She agreed.

When it came time to leave the owner came over and announced that the bill was on the house because of their “Anniversary Policy”.

Unfortunately, she did this in a rather loud voice, so that other people around us could hear her.

Now this restaurant is near a very large retirement community, and since it was Sunday night, it was filled with these same retiree’s (see above reference to Jewish Eating habits).

As we got up to leave, I could hear several of them saying:

“I didn’t know they did that.”
“Wait till I tell the girls at the pool.”
“ I’m going to make sure I come here with my friends when it’s my anniversary,” and other words to that effect.

I could only imagine the chaos that would ensue in the coming months when hundreds of retirees tried to collect on the “Anniversary Policy” they had just heard about

I felt it best to exit the restaurant quickly.

We didn’t return to that restaurant for some time, for obvious reasons.

Monday, September 24, 2012



I am definitely a dessert person.

I would rather eat the dessert than the entrée. 

I love fruit, cakes, pies, cakes and pies that contain fruit, pies  and cakes that are custard filled, pudding filled, cannolli fillings, chocolate fillings, ice cream, ice cream pies, tarts, cookies, pastries of all kinds, donuts (especially Boston Crème), melon, sherbets, melon with sherbet, pie ala mode, etc.  You get the idea.

I don’t feel the meal is complete unless there is dessert.

When I was growing up, we always had dessert with every dinner. It was usually a fruit or piece of cake.  Many times it was a canned fruit that had been chilled in the refrigerator.

When I started going out with Barbara, her family didn’t have this sacred tradition.  When I mentioned it, her mother and grandmother offered me canned fruit the next time I was over. 

While I appreciated their effort, they didn’t chill it.  Warm canned fruit is awful and should come with a warning label.  I quickly showed them the error of their ways.

Once we were married, dessert was almost always included in our dinners.  Something we continue till this day.

When we go out, I always want to see the dessert menu at the end of the meal, and usually Barbara has always wanted to as well.

In the last couple of years, Barbara has declined to have dessert.  When I ask her what she wants, she says she doesn’t want any.

Being the exemplary husband, I make sure to ask her twice.

“No, no,” she answers, “order what you want”.

“Are you sure,” I always inquire, “You don’t want anything?”

“I’m sure, get what you want,” she answers.

So I do, usually some dessert that involves fruit in some way.

Inevitably, she gives me “the look” when the dessert arrives.

“You had to order that!” she says somewhat archly.

“What?” I answer, “You said you didn’t want any and I should order what I wanted”.

“But did you have to order that?” she answers. You know I wanted (fill in some chocolate dessert without fruit), so why did you order that?”

“You said to order what I wanted,” I reply

Once again there is “the look”.

At that point she usually picks up the extra fork or spoon that the server has brought and starts eating my dessert.

“I would have gotten you your own,” I say.

“No, no, I don’t really want any, I’ll just taste yours”

With that half my dessert disappears.

This has become a regular routine between us.  Our family and friends have become accustomed to it, but still laugh about it.  My daughter-in-law in particular gets a charge out of Barbara’s pretense of not eating desserts.

Now lately, I have noticed other couples having their own routines when it comes to desserts.

Usually the wife will have some variation of Barbara’s response, but they will usually hedge their bets by offering to share something they can both agree on.  This works out well and no “looks” are exchanged.

A variation of the dessert ploy recently occurred when we went out to dinner with a couple who shall remain unnamed.

The husband has been watching his weight his whole life but also loves dessert.

At the end of the meal, the dessert menu was brought over and Barbara and I went through our regular routine.  We passed the menu to the other couple where the husband eagerly studied it.

The server came over and asked “what would you like to have?”

The husband eagerly looked up at the server and just before he ordered he glanced at his wife.

She gave him “the look” and subtly shook her head “no”.

His eagerness turned to sadness and he forlornly said to the server, “Sorry, the Warden says no”.

I didn’t feel so bad about “our routine” after that.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Para Sailing at the Beach

Para Sailing at the Beach

It was Labor Day and our friends Gina and Mark invited us to go to the beach with them.  They have a membership at the Harbour Beach Marriott Beach Club.  That means we get preferential treatment at the resort and enjoy the amenities of the hotel without having to take a room.

We went to Gina and Mark’s house, bringing apple pie and ice cream for a barbecue later (coffee ice cream for him, black raspberry mint chocolate for the rest of us).

We drove to the hotel and staked out a place on the beach with complimentary lounges, umbrellas and table for drinks.

Mark and I went in the ocean while the girls read on the lounges.

While in the ocean, I was just standing there and observed the para sailing boat going by.  I had never been on one before and was somewhat curious about it. I had always wanted to try it.

Mark and I returned to the lounges and I continued to watch the para sailing.

“How much do you think that would cost?” I casually asked, pointing to the para sail boat.

“I dunno, $100, $150”, Mark answered.

Gina looked at me expectantly.  She expects me to do rash, impulsive, stupid things.I have no idea why.

“Are you really considering it?” she asked hopefully.

“Thinking about it. Where do you think they have set up?” I answered.

“Probably over by one of the Tiki Huts over there”, Mark said pointing to an area that had boats and jet ski’s for rent.  “I’ve done this before some years ago”, Mark continued and then told a story about he and a friend of his having done it previously and how the friend had gotten nauseous and vomited while up in the air (we shall leave his name out of this to protect his reputation). Fortunately Mark declined to go into detail.

Barbara started looking at me suspiciously.  “You’re not serious”, she said.

I stood up.

“Where are you going”, she demanded.

“Just want to see what the deal is”, I replied and before she could object further I was walking off in the direction of the rental Tiki Hut.

I got to the Tiki Hut, having stupidly not taken my sandals with me to walk on the hot sand.  I was greeted by two young lovely attendants who proceeded to tell me about the marvelous time I would have if I went para sailing.

“How much?” I asked.

“$95 for 15 minutes” the blonde said.

“Is there a discount if I am old?” I inquired hopefully.

“No, we charge extra for age”, one of the guys at the booth replied smiling.

The negotiation continued.  Me negotiating, they staying firm.  We settled on $95.

“I have to go back and see if I can get my wife to do it with me.  Can you write something to her telling her how safe and fun it would be?  Put in “Doctor Prescribed”, maybe that would convince her.”

The brunette looked at me like I was from Mars, but the blonde played along and wrote out what I asked for.  I trudged back to the lounges.

“How much?” Gina asked.

“About $100” I answered.

Barbara gave me the “look”. I gave her the note from the blonde.

“I’m not going; are you crazy?” she said. Barbara is not a “ride person”

“Aw come on, it’s probably safe and definitely fun.  We could do it together, no fun without you”, I said imploringly, but knowing there was no hope.

“Maybe Mark could go with you”, Gina offered.

“I’ve already done this”, Mark said.

“You’re not really going to do this” Barbara said, repeating objection from before.

“I wonder if I could take my cell phone and use it to take pictures” I mused, while studiously ignoring her.

I proceeded to call the para sail people and ask them.  I was told only if I wanted to get it wet. I declined to take it.

“What the hell” I said, “I’m doing it”, and started towards the Tiki Hut with my credit card in hand.

“Is your insurance paid up?” Barbara demanded.

“Wait up, I’ll come along and take some pictures of you from the ground” offered Mark.

We proceeded on while Barbara continued to give me the “look”.

We arrived at the hut, I paid and proceeded to the shore along with 2 guys and a couple.  We got on an inflatable and were taken out to the boat. 

I more or less successfully transferred fromn the inflatable to the boat and we took off.

The two guys went first, then the couple.  They were saving me for last.

Eventually I was strapped in and hooked up to the para sail.  The boat turned into the wind, the sail inflated and I was off. The tether extended out about 1,000 feet from the boat and I was about 400 feet up in the air. 

It wasn’t scary, I didn’t get nauseous or dizzy, and it was like sitting in a swing.  A very high up swing. 

Unfortunately the water was murky and I couldn’t see much in the way of sea life under the water.  Never the less, it was fun  It was worthwhile doing; if only for the favorable impression I made on my grandchildren when they saw the pictures of me up in the air.

I made it back to the group and we went to lunch. Surprisingly Barbara was being a good sport about it.

We ate lunch, had fun with a waitress who had a sense of humor (she wanted to charge our meal to the room, I said sure, 912.  She asked for the name on the room “see if there is a Levy” I said.  If not that room any room with Levy. It became a standing joke), and went back to the beach.

We left the beach and returned to Mark and Gina’s for the barbecue.  When it came time for dessert we all had pie and ice cream.  Turns out, Mark likes Black Raspberry and mint chocolate too, who knew?

One the way home Barbara said “$100, you had to spend a $100?”.

“Yes,” I said, “when will I ever do this again?”

Surprisingly she took it well, must have been because my insurance was paid up.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Ragu or Not to Ragu

Ragu or Not to Ragu

For those of you, who are a little squeamish about talking about medical issues involving private parts, go no further.  For the rest of you read on knowing nothing will be too graphic.

I have BPH, which means I have an enlarged prostate.  I have had this for at least 10 years.  It causes me to pee a lot, and to have a high PSA.  None of this is critical except I periodically go for uncomfortable tests which I will not describe.

As a consequence of the BPH, I wake up at night to pee; sometimes more than once.  I have noticed that when we make pasta at home, I wake up much more often during the night.  This doesn’t happen when we eat pasta at a restaurant.  Since we use Ragu as our sauce at home, I have concluded that it is the Ragu which is causing my frequent urination.

Now, fortunately, as you all know, eating at home is an infrequent occurrence, and the making of pasta is only a percentage of the time we eat at home.  Therefore it is a problem which occurs once in a while.

Never the less, I have asked my accommodating wife to switch tomato sauces to avoid this problem. 

She agreed to try various sauces found in Publix Supermarkets.  We have tried Newman’s, Bertolli, Classico, Barillia’s, and various others.  She doesn’t like any of them.

Ragu it remains.  I continue to suffer peeing a lot during the night when we have pasta at home.

Recently, I went to the urologist for a check up.  While there, I asked him “What’s up with Ragu”?

“The Spaghetti sauce?” he asked.

“Yes”, I replied, ‘it makes me pee”.

“Really?” he said, “I don’t know, what makes you say that?”

I told him my theory and evidence.

“Why don’t you stop using Ragu?” he naively asked.

“My wife refuses to change”, I answered, slightly exaggerating.

He looked at me skeptically.

Looking forlorn, I related my wife’s refusal to change, hoping for some sympathy.  I then asked if anyone else has reported this problem.

“Not that I am aware of”, he said.

“How about giving me a prescription that says: No Ragu, so I can show it to my wife”

“Ok, I think I can do that, will it do any good?” he asked.

“Well, I once had the oncologist give me prescription that said “Patients undergoing chemotherapy should not be exposed to paint fumes” in an attempt to get out of house painting,” I replied.

“How did that work”.

“She ignored it. But don’t let that deter you from giving me the prescription.”

We then got into a discussion of which Italian restaurants we thought were the best in the area.

We walked up to the nurse’s station.

“Don’t forget my prescription,” I said.

He wrote one out for me.

“Why don’t you ask your patients if Ragu also affects them like me?” I asked.

“Let me start with these people”, he said, and asked his nurses if they had a problem with Ragu.

 A patient standing nearby also was asked.  Since they were all female, I felt they didn’t count and suggested polling all his male patients. I am not sure if he wanted to follow through with this needed research, but he nodded in a non-committal way and went back to his patients.

I drove home and solemnly presented my wife with the prescription.

She laughed and said “no chance.”

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Will Lack of a Car Lead to Divorce

Will Lack of a Car Lead to Divorce

My wife and I are now a one car family.  Our lease ended and we gave back the car that I was driving; leaving us with one car.  We felt this was a good idea for economic reasons, it would save us money.

What this means for us, is either scheduling use of the one car or both of us going to the same places all the time.

Initially this seems like a good idea. Barbara, my wife, doesn’t really like to drive and won’t drive at night or long distances.  In the last 2 ½ years we have put only 10,000 miles on the car she was driving, and part of that mileage was by me driving it on weekends.

Now, I will be driving her car 90% of the time.  She will be with me most of that time.

Everyone has warned us against this. 

 I have heard horror stories about sharing one car; we of course scoff at these comments.  We usually get on quite famously.  Both of us are easy going and accommodating.

This has been our first week, so far so good.  

 Of course there has been some increase in the backseat driving (even though she sits in the front) of she, who shall be nameless.  I have taken her kindly given advice by asking her to sit in the back in order to comply with her “back seat driving expertise”.  She has graciously refused.

I have offered to let her drive, again she has graciously refused.  

Fortunately, I have mastered the art of selective deafness, a trait that has served me well over the years.  It has kept us married. She gets to make “requests”, and I get to ignore them.  A good arrangement all around.
We also have different tastes as to what should be on the radio.  She prefers the radio to be off, or if forced to listen, she chooses country music.

I like the radio on at all times, and while I enjoy country music, I like old radio programs like “The Shadow”, “Jack Benny”, “Burns and Allen”, and morning drive shows that have “schtick”.  For those ignorant of the term, “schtick” refers to comedy or humorous banter.

We bicker back and forth about choices on the radio.  The previous deal was I could listen to my stations  when she wasn't with me.  That deal hasn't held up so well now.

We have had some scheduling issues now that we are constantly driving together.  No more errands for her on her day off, no more shopping for food by herself and no more splitting up to go our separate ways on the weekend. 

We are waiting to see how it all turns out. Can we survive with one car without seeking divorce lawyers?
I am hedging my bets and watching the car ads.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Coincidence, Shomincidence, It’s a Plot.

Coincidence, Shomincidence, It’s a Plot.

Do you believe in coincidences? No such thing. I don’t think I am being paranoid and you won’t either, once you hear this story.

My wife Barbara has been clamoring for a new kitchen for a while now.  I have been resisting on the grounds that the old kitchen is quite acceptable and is great shape due to the lack of use (we maybe eat at home once a week).

Nevertheless, she has been pressing her case and gotten support from traitorous members of the family who shall be nameless.  I figured I had about two more years until having to give in because we never agree on color, style or any decorating very quickly.  It once took us 6 months to pick a wall color that we could both agree on.

About a month and a half ago, everything changed.

We went to Orlando to meet my daughter and her family.  While away, our second bathroom toilet leaked. 

When we got back, we discovered the leak, fixed it, but found our laminate floor had been damaged.  We thought the damage was confined to a small area and we could just replace that area with some extra laminate we had saved.  We called in a contractor we use, and he agreed to try.  I went to work; Barbara went to the grocery store.

When she returned home, she was horrified to discover all the laminate was taken up. 

Once the contractor started working on picking up the few pieces we thought were damaged, he discovered the water had spread throughout the laminate flooring.

We still had laminate in the living room/pool hall, so we either had to get the same laminate or put down tile.  We couldn’t get the same laminate anymore so tile it was.  The problem was we had tile in the kitchen and dining room.  This tile would butt up against the new tile.  It would have to match.  No such luck, the old tile would have to be removed, so the new tile would be put down everywhere and match.

We filed an insurance claim and were pleasantly surprised they agreed to give us money towards replacing the laminate. Not the tile, but the laminate.  We were on our own picking up the old tile and putting down new tile where the old tile had been.   

We contemplated picking out new tile.

Barbara saw her chance to get a new kitchen out of this. She pounced... 

“Since the old tile was being taken up, wouldn’t it be a great time to change the kitchen. We could do it all at once and only be inconvenienced once,” she asked. 

I tried to ignore her logic, but it did have reasoning behind it since we would have to remove the cabinet to replace the kitchen tile. 

We seemed to be committed. 

We now had concrete floors where the laminate had been, so there was some urgency.  Like I said, it usually takes us months to decide on colors, etc. We had no such luxury now.

We picked out the tile in 2 days and picked the cabinets the next day by accident.  We were in a tile store, having just picked out tile, and saw cabinets we liked.  We took them.

We notified the contractor to start working.  He came that week; jack hammered out the old tile, and removed the cabinets and sink.  

There was dust everywhere, and no place to eat at home.  No difference there, except for breakfast, which I did usually eat at home.  McDonalds and the bagel places immediately benefited from our lack of eating breakfast at home.

Our next task was to find granite to use on the counter top.  I refused to pay a fortune but wanted something nice.  We spent a couple of weeks looking around and finally found a slab that looked like marble but was granite, at a reasonable price.  We also bought a microwave, which we don’t use, to match the stove we never use.

I thought we were done, dreamer that I am.

“We need a new buffet piece,” Barbara said.

“Why is that?” I inquired.

“When the toilet leaked, the water came through the wall behind the buffet and ruined it” she replied.

I love that buffet, I designed it and had it made for us.  It was unique.

“I can get it repaired for about $100” I rejoined.

“Its old fashioned and we need a new one to match the modern look we are getting in the kitchen” Barbara countered.

“Really….,” I said, “but I love that buffet”.

“Get over it. It’s so 70’s looking. We need a new one,” she insisted.

In for a penny, in for a pound.  A new buffet it is.

We finally are nearing the end of our construction and I can finally eat breakfast at home.

The contractor laughs every time Barbara says she needs to add something to make cooking easier (everyone knows her history of cooking at home), and Barbara has her list of things for him to do.  I don’t foresee an early end to the work.

My original budget has been cast aside like yesterday’s trash.  Barbara goes blithely, on adding new items to her list, all of which add cost.  The money train has left the station far behind.

This whole local stimulus to the economy started with a toilet leaking. 

I would like to point out, that my wife’s biggest ally for the new kitchen had arranged for us to be away when the leak conveniently occurred.  If we had been home, we would have spotted the leak in time.

 I’m not saying foul play was involved, or a conspiracy was hatched; but nevertheless, it is suspicious as to the timing, don’t you all agree?  (This is the part where you all agree I am not being paranoid.)

When I mention this to Barbara, she giggles and looks away.

I am considering billing that unnamed person for the cost.