First there was a Man. Then a Woman. Then in quick succession, two cats, a confused dog beast, and two kids. I stay at home with them. I'm the Man

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Art of Negotiation or "Hey, I'm Jewish too."

It happened at work.

He came to the fresh bread area, along with his sidekick. We recognized each other immediately. He was older than me. Grey and mostly bald. He nodded at the sale bread (a kind of mild sourdough boule. Price: $2.00) and asked, "How is it?"

"It's good." I replied.

Then he started to make a series of slight head nods, shrugs, eyebrow raises, and hand movements which among my tribe translates roughly as, " So, whadderwe gonna do here, huh? Can we do something here? Hm, huh, whaddya think? What can you do for me."

I responded in kind. My delicate dance of body english replying, "I don't know? We'll see. Let's talk."

His sidekick chuckled.

He motioned with the brown bagged loaf of bread he was already holding in his left hand. It was a fresh loaf of olive bread. Good choice. "I love this bread," he said,  "but it costs six bucks."

I indicated the sale breads and said, "Well, you can buy this one, get a jar of olives for 3 bucks, jam the olives into the loaf of bread (I making short, quick jabbing motions with my thumb as I talk, so as to indicate how one should jam olives) and save yourself a dollar."

"I'll take it," he replied.

And that's how we do it in the old country.

Qf course, it wasn't about the price or my moronic idea. It was about the love of the chase. The thrill of the sarcasm blowing through your hair and the attitude pounding through your veins. That's what people misunderstand about the Jews.  We're not cheap, we just like to argue.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Justice is subjective

Is there balance in the Universe? Well . . .

We went out to dinner the other night. A big deal around here. My new job affords us an occasional luxury, the kids had their first swim class of the recent session, and I had cleverly set our refrigerator's thermometer to "Mold." So it was in the cards.

We had seen a glowing review for this new nearby fusion joint on our favorite local tv news magazine, and my wife suggested we try it. The place is located in Chelsea, MA which is the sort of place that would be so charming and urbane and convenient and vibrant if not for all the fires and rapes. But in the daylight it's safe and the new restaurant is part of a valiant attempt at revival being made by the city. We support that kind of shit. 

We arrived and had to climb a set of blond wooden stairs to get to the smallish dining room. The dining room was outfitted in dark, armless, cushioned chairs, tables of black wood, and other touches that implored, "We're just as stylish as Boston. Please Believe me!"

We were the only ones there as we were early for your typical dinner service because we have two small kids. For us "midnight" means "10:30."

The woman who turned out to be both our server and the hostess greeted us with a shocked look. Her face quickly followed that up with annoyance, anger, disappointment, and finally reluctant acceptance. The Five Stages of Grief for assholes. Clearly, this was not a family friendly establishment. They obviously have aspirations of catapulting themselves into the "hip eatery" category of restaurant. Which will happen never.  But, as I stated, we were the only ones there, we were hungry, and our Family Motto is, "Go fuck yourself." We sat. She waited on us. 

The food was good. The prices were very good compared to across the river in Boston. I'm not sure it's deserving of the title fusion as the food was all either Vietnamese or Thai and very little of it was both. That's like fusing Greek and Italian food or Beyonce' with a cyborg set to "achieve Fame."  Not much of a leap.

The service continued to be straight bitchy. Clipped sentences, no "thank yous" or "you're welcomes," and a look on her face like we'd pooped in the Pad Thai. But we persevered and managed to enjoy our food. And the kids, as they usually do when we eat out, behaved better than average. They love to eat out and seem to respect it as a privilege. 

Through this, she continued to pour on the "get the fuck out of my stylish new restaurant you unhip cunts" charm.  But still we persevered. We were hell bent on showing this woman that we were not only good enough to eat in her establishment, we were better than her. Where she grimaced, we smiled. Where she was rude, we offered polite pleases and thank yous. Where she was visibly pissed, we were visibly enjoying ourselves. 

As we finished, she never warmed up. With out a word, she brought us a check.  She never once blinked or warmed or anything else remotely associated with the service industry or humanity in general. I was internally planning our next visit when the Pman declared himself done, got up from his chair, and went over to sit with his mommy. They sat for a moment and my wife told the Pman it was time for a potty break. She came back to the table and said quietly, "he's soaked." He had had an accident. "No biggee," I replied. "At least he tried to make it to the potty first."

"No," she said, "he was soaked when he climbed into my lap." 

I looked over at his chair, and there, on the dark fabric, was an even darker wet spot. Oh yes. 

After all of this though, I was determined that this sad, confused (the restaurant will never be the chic, hip eatery she envisions. It'll always be just "a nice place in Chelsea.") woman would see that we were the better people. That we were the takers of the high road, the purveyors of decency, a family of true class and sophistication and depth. 

So I looked at my wife and I mouthed, "Let's get the fuck out of here." 

And we did.

Next time, I'm pretty sure we'll order take out.

HM

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