In my quest to make life more efficient and maximize the scant 75 or 80 years we have on this planet, I’ve devised some rules by which we can all dine and make life a lot easier for everyone. Let’s stop wasting time by following these simple rules:
1. Figure out what you’re eating immediately. I know you’re out to eat with people you love and care about. Maybe even people you haven’t seen in some time. Here’s the great part: you will have as much dining time as you want with them... once you order your food. Until then, you have a mission:make a decision about your food, and then get ready to hop on the wild roller coaster of meaningful conversation. It's great that you want to talk about the wacky thing your dog did this morning or how clueless your boss is. We can make that happen the moment you decide on your meal. After you’ve made the call, the world is your oyster. Speaking of oysters, they’re one of the specials tonight, which you would know if you had shut your mouth and even glanced at the menu within the first five minutes of sitting down. Instead, you have put yourself in a position to violate rule #2:
2. Be prepared. We’ve been sitting down for 20 minutes; when it’s your time to order, you shouldn’t have the look of horror in your eyes like you just got chosen to participate in The Hunger Games. If only you could have foreseen this strange man in a button-down shirt asking you what you want to eat this evening! These words echo in my head and haunt me like a bad dream: “Uh… uh… Come back to me after taking everyone else’s order."
3. Similarly to the above, get it together. You know what kind of salad dressing you like. Asking "Do you have blue cheese dressing?" is perfectly reasonable. A panicked "Uh.. uh.. what kind of dressing do you have?" is not. This isn't Sophie's Choice. Get it together. When your waiter asks you what kind of toast you want, just tell them whatever you like. Don't make them roll out the scroll. What exactly are you expecting to be on there, anyway? Zucchini bread? Get the hell out of here and eat some whole wheat toast.
4. For the love of all that is sacred and holy in this world, know what you ordered. When they bring out your veal parmigiana, don’t look around at the person to your left who only ordered a coffee and the person across from you who already got their chicken caesar salad with a quizzical look upon your face. Why, for whom could this dish possibly be? Feel free to continue to stare at your meal-mates with a look of confusion like a sea otter in an organic chemistry class. I’m sure your waiter or waitress is perfectly willing to stand holding a scalding hot dish all day; who needs the nerve endings in their fingers anyhow?
5. Bring money. I know this sounds obvious but unfortunately it isn’t. If you’re going out to eat with friends and you’re paying for your meal, it’s helpful to have actual United States currency. “Oh… I only have my card…”
With these very simple rules, we can all enjoy a nice meal. Now, what was that wacky thing your dog did this morning?