First impressions were promising: a small - no, make that tiny - building overlooking our local 'marina' and the huge river that flows past the scruffy, rather annoying town which in its self-important, ever-so-slightly-snotty way, achieves little - except to ruin a perfectly good view. Everything looked and felt new and clean: so far, so good. As we enetered a diminutive Asian lad of about eighteen was sitting at one of the tables intently studying his wafer-thin laptop (immediately setting off a surge of envy which I am reminded of as I type on a large, clunky, dusty thing which these days has a battery life - its second battery - of approximately the same amount of time it takes a humming bird to copulate). Aha, I thought - students dig this cool spot too, man...
He wasn't a student; he was our waiter, as became clear after we had plonked our bums down at one of the bar-height tables. He was pleasant, nervous and brave - I always have the utmost admiration for anyone who takes up a customer service job in a second or third language - and we placed our drinks and food orders. We'd also become aware of another presence in the building (the kitchen was open to the dining area) as we spoke to the young fellow. It was had to ignore, since the voice which cut through all other conversation seemed to be stuck at full fucking volume.
In much the same fashion as I have observed performance parenting (I have commented upon this phenomenon elsewhere in this blog, a long time ago...if you haven't seen it before, that's your fault), we were suddenly being brought face to face with a performance caterer/cook. "AH SURE! YAH! RIGHT ON! AWESOME!" floated delightfully through from the kitchen, along with some snippets of yelled conversation which I have neither the energy or the inclination to record here. Suffice to say: it was ear-bleedingly loud, and the lady in question clearly thought that she was the life and soul of a party that was not actually happening anywhere within view. Our orders were quietly passed from the waiter to our resident foghorn: "PULLED PORK! AWESOME! CHILI DOG? RIGHT ON!" For fuck's sake, I thought, if I'd have wanted it broadcast, I'd have rented a small aircraft with a banner and had it fly along the river.
Then, on top of this already intensely annoying behaviour, she rolled out her stupidity as she talked/bellowed at the young waiter. "I ALWAYS THINK YOUR NAME IS TACO, OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT. I HATE IT! I CAN'T SPEAK THE JAPANESE LANGUAGE VERY WELL...HAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAA...." Quite what the kid made of this, I cannot say because I was busily curling up into a ball of rage and biting the edge of the table. I then made a herculean effort to shut out the stupid, ignorant, offensive cow while my wife and I enjoyed one another's company.
The food arrived, and proved to be...average, at best. In fact I'm being kind, because this lunch had been my wife's idea, and I'm still unwiling to admit that I never want to re-visit that place again. The food was a bit grim, the only highlight being the chili sauce on my hot dog (my first in a couple of years), which was rather tasty. You see? You're getting a restaurant review here too...For reasons which I am still unable to ecplain, I broke my usual rule and had a dessert - a highly and very loudly recommended lemon meringue pie slice. It was terrible, however the experience was made even worse when the yeller/cook came and SAT DOWN across the way to start yelling at us about how she LOVED England....while we were still eating. My English politeness gland kicked in and took over. I smiled.
As I did so, I got my first good look at her...and it wasn't a good look. About five years my senior, dyed blonde hair which resembled straw and was worn long in the "Hey, I 'm still young really!" North American delusional style, and dressed in a way that suggested she was of the opinion that the menopause was another thirty years away yet. But that's OK - how she looks is only significant in that she fitted a stereotype which matched her loud, raspy, 'I've smoked forty a day for fifty years', cheese-cutting voice. It's fair to say that I wasn't impressed.
With no encouragement from us (and with waves of antipathy surging across the room from me), she proceeded to tell us that England is just awesome, that she knew this because she went there once when she was sixteen (a long time ago, then), and that we must know that street with the Coca Cola sign on it, where she spent eight hours looking in the record stores (ohhhhh...that street...the one famous for a sixteen year old stupid Canadian tourist back in the 70s, who...). London, as seems to be the case for so many thick people, is England, you see...in much the same way that Ottawa is Canada, or Washington is the United States. I tried to explain that we weren't from that part of the UK, but conversation was not encouraged: she was telling us about England. During our dessert.
My wife - who usually enjoys a natter long beyond the point at which I have begun to search the floor for insects to follow - skilfully brought the onslaught to an end by suddenly standing up and walking towards the register to pay. Emboldened, I scuttled sideways (it was a very small place) past her and through the door, thus avoiding committing a homicide and making a terrible mess inside the cafe. As we scampered back to our car, i noticed that the Japanese kid had long since disappeared, which was neither surprising nor unwarranted. I hoped for his sake that he had left to join the circus or to take up some - any - other work.
I don't have a problem with people who are not particularly bright - compared to a great many other people, I fit into that category myself, after all. I don't have a problem with people who don't have a wealth of information at their fingertips, or who lack the occasional bit of common sense. I can deal with that - usually it's a function of education. I DO, however, have a problem with insensitivity combined with STUPID and ridiculously fucking LOUD. I wonder how such people get through their lives without encountering disaster every other day. Maybe they do and it just becomes their 'normal'...but I do very much wish that they would stay away from me.
I need to stop being so fucking polite...