When Mr. Restaurant Gal and I were first married, our apartment-sized home was one of 20 or so identical ones in an L-shaped neighborhood consisting of two streets connected by a cul-de-sac. Many of the families could measure their time in this neighborhood in decades-generations, really. But, this was Mr. Restaurant Gal’s first house, one he owned before I met him, and he was always considered an outsider–a newcomer–even after having lived there a couple of years.
Like many neighborhoods, this one had its self-appointed “mayor.” You know the type, whether you live in a house, a condo, or a rental apartment. It’s usually a he, and he knows everything he thinks you need to know, like random factoids about who owned your home/condo or rented your apartment before you: “She was a nice lady who lived by herself, but she kept such beautiful birds.”
The neighborhood Mayor also knows things you actually do need to know, like when the trash gets picked up after a holiday that falls on a Monday, or who to call in the government when the snow plow hasn’t been around for a week.
You gotta love a Mayor.
I have greeted and served several of my city’s mayors in each of the restaurants I have worked–one notorious and always “on,” one in office, and another unrecognized and seemingly ignored, except by me, because I was so astounded that said mayor was unrecognized and ignored.
I have likely served many a neighborhood mayor, as well, but I wouldn’t know. They usually don’t announce themselves, like some of the city mayors do.
Except the one today.
“Mayor Johnson, reservation at noon,” drawled the older man.
Are you kidding? Is his first name really “Mayor?” I wondered.
“Welcome, Mr. Johnson ,” I said.
“That’s Mayor Johnson, Miss,” he replied, quickly cutting me off.
“Oh, okay, Mayor Johnson,” I answered back, hesitating only slightly. What the hell?
“Show my three friends to my table as soon as they are present. I will sit in that dining room, if you please,” he directed, with all the supposed authority and faded regal bearing of a dethroned despot. Good Lord.
“Sir, um, Mayor,” I corrected myself. “That section has a large party in it, and the waiter is pretty well tied up with it. Can I seat you in another dining area?”
“Absolutely not!” he bellowed. “I will sit in there,” he gestured. He then began a stare-down contest with me. Two seconds; you win, sir. I am not playing. Take the table next to the 18-top. I wouldn’t, but you can.
And then began the demands–where is my waiter (taking an order for 18 entrees), where is my drink (getting made as soon as the bartender is finished making 18 other drinks), where is the manager (wondering why the dumb hosts seated you next to an 18-top).
In the end, we managed. He was more bluster than bulk. One of the hosts made the table their martinis, and that seemed to quiet everyone down. The waiter was finally able to take their order, and the Mayor was even happier after that.
In fact, he would tell you he had a pretty good dining experience with us, after all.
“I always like to bring my friends here,” he told us on the way out, mellow and smiling. “I always know you will do right by me.”
Because, when there’s a Mayor in your midst, you make it happen.