Brother’s birthday luncheon is no party
I have the world’s sweetest big brother.
The kind of guy who will buy a magazine for me because it contains a story about my childhood obsession, James Dean.
The sort of person who will insist on walking me to my car if we leave an event simultaneously.
The teddy bear of a dude who will JACK YOU UP if you mess with his baby sister.
And so, since it was his big day last week and because our extended family members were unable to come together as a group until a few days after the fact, I assembled a microcosm of us for a quick weekday noon mini-party at a local restaurant so we could be together on his actual birthday.
And it was terrible. Awful. Really, really not good. Like, truly some of the absolute worst service I have had in an eating establishment in all my 48 years. Man, it was bad … sort of like the lunch equivalent of “Shutter Island.”
Here’s how it went down:
My niece and I arrived first and secured a table for five since my brother, my son, Kyle and Kyle’s best pal, Cal, were all joining us. Immediately, a server came over and greeted us.
I explained that we were on a limited time schedule and asked if the bill could be paid as soon as we were done ordering. I also asked if the gentleman who would be sitting to my immediate right when the table filled could please be brought an ice-cream brownie dessert at meal’s end since it was his birthday.
I was assured that wouldn’t be a problem. A viscous lie I foolishly bought. Hmpf.
As our server explained that he was training a new waitress, we were given our drinks.
“No worries.” I smiled, blissfully unaware that in about 40 minutes, my worry meter would explode in 17,492 teeny tiny bits.
Seconds ticked by and finally, all the boys arrived.
We chatted and gave my brother gag gifts. We laughed and visited and waited.
And we joked and smiled … and waited.
And we made wisecracks about age and sipped our nearly empty beverages … and waited some more.
Finally, I shot a flare gun into the sky and our wait duo looked up … then quickly turned away.
“Um, could we please order now? I don’t mean to be a bother, but remember how I said we were a little pressed for time?”
I begged on my hands and knees, crawling around. Did I mention the restaurant wasn’t even half full?
Four days later, the clueless couple came over and begrudgingly took our collective order. And it was painful. We repeated it 17 times since we were apparently speaking in Greek.
After our order of three breakfasts, one plain salad and a couple of broiled chicken breasts was finally taken (each of which came back wrong, BTW) I still had hope that I’d make it back to the office in time for my afternoon meeting. Which I would have — if it was being moved to 4 p.m. Next week.
All hope was lost after the hour-glass had to be flipped and there was nary a crumb on our table. I asked if I could please pay the tab since I had to get back to work.
“Fine,” said my original server, who clearly wasn’t fine.
As I slid my credit card through the scanner, I mentioned I’d need to box up my and my niece’s lunches.
“Seriously?” was his reply. I would have jabbed back only it was at that moment I noticed my brother’s birthday dessert was missing from the bill.
“What? You still want that?” he spat. “Well, since it’s still technically his birthday and all, yes, yes I do….” I said, my head about to pop off my neck.
Not only did they offer no apology for the lousiest service this side of the equator, they didn’t even make any small gesture to try compensate us for the horrendous experience. Not even, say, a free dessert for the birthday boy.
So, happy birthday, anyway, Dan. Next year, we’re skipping lunch and just getting a really, really big cake — and maybe some wine!
Kimerer is a Tribune Chronicle columnist whose big brother is still speaking to her even though his birthday lunch was a full plate of blech. Contact her with lunchtime meal suggestions via www.patriciakimerer.com