Okay, I'm a big softie and a purveyor of false advertising. Quite often these columns are too warm and cuddly and fail to qualify as actual tirades in the strictest sense. But having just marked my 49th birthday, I feel energized to unleash my inner curmudgeon and rant about a few pet peeves.
For instance, restaurant restrooms can be unnerving. Who thought it was a good business decision to make the lighting so hideously harsh? Waitpersons shouldn't expect many tips in these wrinkle-magnifying establishments. Patrons who would normally give 20 percent are suddenly saving all their money for nursing home insurance
The lights create an eerie skin tone and accentuate every blemish. When you look into the mirror and decide that you're now a mutant zombie, you're not apt to return to the dining area and order some decadent caramel pie. No, you're more likely to stagger out moaning, "Brains -- I need to eat human brains!"
My wife is equally perturbed by NOISY eateries that feature terrible acoustics. You know WHY you see restaurant commercials with attractive young people smiling, nodding and laughing? Because they are blissfully oblivious to tidbits such as "Man, I know this is a bad time to tell you, but I'm running away with your fiancée" or "Dude, I swear, something in your pasta primavera just MOVED!"
I'm no marketing whiz, but "value" menus seem counterproductive to me. I've eaten my share of dollar burgers; but, silly me, I like to think that I'm ALWAYS getting value from my purchases. When I'm told something is from the value menu, I can only assume that everything ELSE is on the Prestige Menu ("Hey, world, I can afford a full-price greaseburger! You may kiss my ring") or maybe the "Ream You A New One" menu.
I'd like to see a value menu for the news. If you get tired of deluxe stories about Somali pirates seizing luxury liners, you can scale back to stripped-down reports like "Two rednecks in a dinghy allegedly yelled 'Yo momma' jokes at passersby. The Coast Guard is reportedly arming with dumb blonde zingers."
If a restaurant REALLY wanted to ruin my dining experience, they would play Lionel Richie's song "Easy," with the lyric "easy like Sunday morning." I know it sounds innocuous enough, and Richie probably does spend his Sunday mornings sleeping late, supervising his personal assistant clipping the coupons out of the Sunday paper, and eventually moseying on down to the restaurant for a leisurely brunch. But an awful lot of normal folks develop a severe case of the "stillgottas" on Sunday mornings.
By "stillgottas," of course, I mean "I still gotta finish my Sunday school lesson and fight for shower time and repair the kids' macaroni-and-glue diorama of Bethlehem and complete the prayer list and load Jane's 'secret sister' gift and find a necktie that the cats didn't throw up on and..."
I was going to phone Lionel about the way he callously rubs mythical weekend easiness in our faces, but he's probably at a quadriplegics' convention singing "Dancing On The Ceiling."
I'm glad I could get all this off my chest. In fact, this gives me something to write about when I turn 50. Yeah, what's the deal with chests, anyway? Whoever invented them had to have been...
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