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#UncleToddTuesday - blog 23

Maybe we shouldn’t have been out in public. It’s a fine line you draw after an all-day event such as drinking beers at a baseball game: To go home or not to go home? Hunger was the question. My friend and I decided on dinner. And this is where we encountered her.

The unofficial city-living sobriety test is whether you can enter a restaurant, be seated at a table, manage to sit up straight, and ensure the menu is not upside down. We passed. Since we chose Greektown, we quickly decided on lamb chops, some appetizers, and a bottle of wine. After the appetizers had arrived she presented the bottle to me. My friend had ordered the wine. Basic restaurant etiquette is to present it to the person who had ordered it. I hinted this to her while she peeled the foil off the top of the bottle.

“But I like you,” she said. “I like black people.”

My friend almost choked on his calamari. She poured the wine. We said nothing. I realized we had entered another dimension of human existence. Later, when she returned to check on us, my friend and I had already consulted the menu and had realized, wisely, that the following morning might be glacial. “We’d like to share this salad, please,” I said to her, pointing at the menu. She looked at me.

“No. You can’t have the salad. That’s too much food.”

Two idiots who had been drinking all day at a baseball game have their appetites. Salad it was. “We’ll have it anyway, please,” I said. “Thank you.”

In an instant, she was angry. We had become the enemy. Would the food be delayed on purpose? Would she make herself scarce for minutes on end? Would she set the tablecloth on fire? Our strategy was restraint and patience. The end of the meal arrived without incident. We paid our check, tipped well, and left.

The cold rain of Chicago in April greeted us outside. Even at the end of a long and terrific day, patience and restraint, as always, is the strategy of choice.

—Uncle Todd