How to Avoid a Shitty Restaurant (Redux)
Writer’s Note: This is a follow up to the February 22nd column, HOW TO AVOID A SHITTY RESTAURANT.
After getting burned by the lousy barbeque joint, the following night I head over to the Thai place just across the street.
Good food. Excellent service. Very affordable. Just like every other Thai restaurant on the planet. I have this conspiracy theory that the food in every Thai restaurant actually comes out of one giant kitchen somewhere over in China (hell, everything’s made in China). I also think the staff are robots. I always seem to get the same 25-year-old skinny waitress with a flower in her hair and perfect skin who speaks broken English and never gets the “spice scale” right when I order a “4.”
However, no one warned me about the vault of horror that I’d experience towards the tail end of my dinner. No one dared to inform me of the musical trigger of indigestion following my main course. Like a random act of terror, it just happened. Like an explosion out of nowhere. And I couldn’t do goddamned thing to get out of the way.
Question: What’s the most nauseating thing you can think of while dining inside a restaurant? Seeing a bug scurrying across the floor? Hair in your food? A karaoke machine? No, much worse than that.
Think real torture.
Think “Guantanamo Bay” kind of torture.
Well by now, you’ve probably figured it out.
I’m talking — Asian guy singing “You Light Up My Life.”
About halfway through my meal here in West Palm Beach, Asian man suddenly appears on a stage. Poof! I didn’t even realize the restaurant had a stage. I mean, what fucking Thai restaurant has a stage?
Don Ho doesn’t even bother to warm up the crowd. No hello. No nothing. Instead, he launches instantly into the Debby Boone barf-bag chestnut, that everyone hated back in 1978 which has now become to music what “Mommie Dearest” is to movies.
So many nights
I’d sit by my window,
Waiting for someone
to sing me this song.
On the list of cringe-worthy moments, this one is right up there. By this time, I can’t ingest any more food without spewing. So I stop eating and whip out trusty cell phone to capture this moment for blogger posterity (see video above).
What’s truly hysterical is that the restaurant is completely stone-cold empty, except for a couple of old blue hairs sitting across the room who probably can’t hear a note. And of course, Asian guy’s microphone is blaring at a full eardrum-blasting “10″ because the megalomaniac is practically masterbating to the sound of his own voice.
So many dreams
I’ve kept deep inside me,
Alone in the dark
But now you’ve come along.
These are the precious moments in time which causes one to reflect on the deeper meanings of life and existence. One hundred and forty days and nights on the road each year, and this is pretty much the highlight of my day.
Following dinner, the restaurant manager comes by. He asks me if I’d like to request a song. I must be special.
Well shit, since I’m the only breathing customer in the dining room other than the Glen Miller Fan Club, I’m now pressured into picking out a song for the fortune cookie crooner.
I’m figuring that Metallica isn’t in exactly his musical wheelhouse. So instead, I opt for something safe. An old standard. Something the blue hairs might even enjoy.
“Yeah, can he do ‘My Way?” I ask.
A few minutes later, the bill is paid. I’m just about to stand and walk out the door. Didn’t quite get to hear “My Way,” but somehow I think I’ll manage to choke back the disappointment of that void in my life and still maintain the will to live.
So just as I rise, the crooner looks over and says, “We have special request now.” Then, he launches into the Sinatra swan song (actually penned by Paul Anka). The trouble is, now I can’t leave. How rude would it be to just walk out in the middle of the song I requested? Plus the singer is looking straight at me, as if he’s fulfilling that lifelong dream of mine and turning this into one of the most cherished moments of my life. I can’t just fucking stand up and walk out!
So, I sit. And sit. And sit. And sit.
And he sings. And sings. And sings.
By his time, empty dishes have been cleared from my table, including the glassware. So, I can’t even nurse a beverage and pretend to act natural, while the crooner is singing straight at me. Hands clasped, I nervously gaze around the room anxiously awaiting every note while sitting at a table that’s already been bussed and prepped for the next customer.
I’ve lived a life that’s full
Ive traveled each and every highway.
And more, much more than this
I did it My Way.
After it’s over, there’s dead silence in the room. Except for two hands clapping, which were mine. Clap. Clap. Clap.
Now — emotions fulfilled and completed as a man, I make a mad run for the front door quicker than Usian Bolt running the 100-meter dash.
After yet another awkward restaurant experience, I sure won’t be doing things “My Way” again.