Saturday, May 19, 2007


Two years ago, I worked as a waitress for a restaurant that was just opening. (Note to self, don't do that again...) We had a fairly full service bar, including sixteen wines to complement our Italian food. The owner, who possessed a shockingly small amount of common sense, decided that we should all taste the different wines so we would know how to describe them to our tables.

Fine and dandy.

Two problems. One, his idea of wine tasting was to fill a styrofoam cup 1/2 full and hand it to you. (16 of figure out the alchohol content). And two, he decided to do this right before the restaurant opened for the night.

I don't drink.

I have excellent reasons for this, not the least of which is my complete inability to tolerate anything but the smallest amount of alchohol.

I was ordered to drink.

I sipped carefully of each cup - never draining it eagerly like many of my fellow waitresses were doing. I knew I had an empty stomach so I was deliberately taking not more than a couple sips from each glass - just enough to keep the boss happy and hopefully keep me from becoming tipsy.

I was unsuccessful.

We opened the doors and sat the first table of the night in my section.

I got up from the bar to go to the table and realized I was having to walk with care so as to avoid running into all those pesky chairs and tables someone placed in my way.

When I arrived at the table, I greeted them and found my tongue would barely cooperate in forming the words I needed to say. Still, I pulled it off and asked them what they wanted to drink.

They answered.

At this point, disaster struck.

I could hear the sounds coming out of their mouths but my brain refused to translate those sounds into anything resembling words. It sounded like they ordered "lecokwinorapep".

I grabbed onto the first sound in the word, leaned over the table, and practially shouted, "Lemonade?"

They looked at each other, looked at me and repeated the same completely indecipherable word as before.

I tried again. "Lemonade?" I was shouting. Leaning into their personal space. Desperately hoping they would just succumb to my powers of suggestion and say "Yes, lemonade would be delightful."

They stared at me in much the same way people rubber-neck at car accidents on the freeway: fascination at the wreckage and relief that it wasn't happening to them.

The woman grabbed the menu, opened it to the drink section, pointed to a word and carefully enunciated "Coke."

Oh. Well why didn't you just say so in the first place?

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I don't drink.

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