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Eating Out

I love to eat in restaurants. Aside from anorexics and the criminally insane, who doesn’t? What better way to pass the time with someone you love, admire or want to sleep with. Yet if you are like me (neurotic to the point of ridicule) there are a number of awkward set-pieces to be overcome en route to an enjoyable evening.

“Can I take your coat, sir?” says the waiter. You check your pockets for keys/wallet/porn/pets, and remove said items. But what about the coat itself? I once visited a car park in Camden where you had to hand over your keys. When I returned there were an extra 20 miles on the clock. What if your coat were used in a robbery? “Police are looking for a man wearing a particularly tatty brown corduroy jacket. Witnesses say it smelt of biscuits.”

“I’ll just keep the jacket, thank you.”

There are many ways to approach the wine list, one of which is upside down. Unless you were a member of the Bullingdon Club, chances are you are not going to splash out on a bottle of the Chateux Mitterand Pompidou 1752. Which, though? The third-least-expensive is the most popular. Select this and you are saying I haven’t chosen the cheapest as that would show I am a tighwad nor have I selected the second cheapest therefore it’s clear I’ve chosen a decent mid-priced wine probably because I know what I’m talking about. Only problem with this is everyone does the same and can see right through this feeble attempt to mask your inherent cheapness.

With so much going on inside your tiny mind, you may become distracted. The waiter approaches: “Two more minutes, please,” you say, holding up three fingers. Never on any account turn the waiter away twice. Most waiters operate a two-strikes-and-you’re-out policy, and will never return. Also, for God’s sake take control of the hors d’oeuvres so as to avoid this:

“Do you want a starter?”

“Don’t mind. You?”

“Don’t mind. Share one?”

“Don’t mind. You?”

“Don’t mind.”

So you’ve made your choices, the wine is flowing and your steak arrives. But oh dear, it’s underdone. So underdone in fact that it’s laughing and chatting with the next table. DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES SEND IT BACK. If you do you are effectively telling the cook he is an asshole. His reaction will be one of rage and humiliation, followed by revenge. Your steak will be interfered with. I know this. I used to cook, and I licked everything that came back.

You’ve finished your meal (nom nom nom, tummy-rub, *BURP*), the waiter has wandered over and you’ve spluttered, “Just the bill please, if I eat anything else I’ll be sick down my legs.” What now pay for the lot, split it or work out who had what? Do what you like but there is a fourth way: go to the loos and spring the fire alarm, then disappear in the melee