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Over 60...and Getting Younger: July 31, 2009


I have always been annoyed and uncomfortable when a fellow diner makes a “fuss” at a restaurant. I sink a bit lower in my chair and wait for the incident to be settled and finally be resolved.

Usually I am not the aggrieved party and I am only an impatient observer. Last weekend I was the culprit. Let me present my case.

We were in a diner (no names mentioned here). We were with another couple, our friends, the Greenes. Everyone knew what they wanted and ordered immediately. When the lovely, smiling waitress asked me, I ordered swordfish blackened right from the printed menu. Within five minutes she returned and said they were out of swordfish and handed me the menu for a second time.

I rescanned the choices and I chose tuna encrusted with nuts. After another five minutes, the still smiling waitress returned and informed me that it was “86 on the tuna.” Eighty-six is restaurant talk meaning they were out of tuna.

Again, I peered at the food card and I chose filet of sole. Filet of sole is a fish that is too thin and fragile to blacken, so I left it up to the chef to make it tasty.

Actually I am an avid meat eater and I was just eating fish to make my wife happy. I really wanted liver and onions but my wife is a true “cholesterol investigator” and I knew it would provoke an argument. To me, Stanley H. Greenberg, all fish tastes the same. Maybe the texture is different but by and large the meat has similar qualities and flavor.

When our waitress (not smiling as much) returned with my filet of sole, I began to eat hurriedly to catch up to my dinner companions.

At the first few bites I knew there was going to be trouble. The fish was flavorless and tasteless, and I had been served an extra large portion to placate me.

Uncharacteristically, I called the waitress and said I could not eat my portion. It was devoid of taste. “Could I please send this back and get another main dish?” was my inquiry. We are regular customers.

“Sure” she said and scurried back to the kitchen carrying my filet of sole.

I pointed to my friend’s dish and said, “Bring me that.” (Veal parmiggiano with spaghetti). Out of the corner of my eye I saw that the waitress had okayed it with the proprietor of the diner.

I had made a “fuss.” I was apologetic. I felt terrible but there was no way I could eat that fish.