At first: The beautiful girl arrives before her date. My hosts and I wonder how we can copy her hair style, her shoes, her dress–her very essence. Her date arrives. He is the handsome equivalent of this beautiful girl. She is coy. He is smitten. They talk, they laugh. He casually touches her arm. She brushes his knee. They kiss, a light brush of lips so subtle yet so sexually charged, we vote it the best kiss we’ve seen at our bar, ever.
Then: They linger over a fourth glass of wine, each. She can’t keep her hair out her eyes. She stumbles a bit in her cute high heels as she heads to the ladies room, again and again. She giggles. They kiss. Now it is a kiss too intimate in its sloppiness. They are the last people at the bar–by half an hour–and still they linger. We cannot wait for them to take their cuteness and sexiness anywhere else.
At first: They arrive on time for their 7:30 reservation. They remark about how much they have looked forward to coming to our restaurant. They have accents I recognize from Down Under. They are so cool.
Then: They only order apps and dessert and one round of drinks. At 11:10 p.m., 70 minutes after we have closed and almost 4 hours after they have arrived, they are still seated at their table, nursing unfilled glasses of water.
At first: A promising party of 10 turns out to be seven children under age five and three adults. I am horrified, as is the server. But we don’t let on. After all, it is our job to serve our guests–all guests, even the children for whom we have no specific menu. I vow I will make it up to the server with a later, greater table. She knows I will.
Then: The three adults order three courses, much wine, and then tip handsomely. Beyond handsomely. Who would have thought?
At first: They know our menu. They have been here many times before. We appreciate that.
Then: They try to trip up the server about the menu and the wine manager about vintages, not once, but repeatedly. The server defers to their superior knowledge of the ingredients in our rich sauces. Our wine manager nods to their litany of reasons why they have ordered one bottle over another. Both the server and the wine manager know these guests are grossly off base–wrong about everything. Both the server and the wine manager allow these guests to think they are correct.
At first:They are French.
Then:They ask the server to suggest a proper gratuity for her excellent service, “Because we are unsure.”
We think we have seen it all. But sometimes, as much as we are quickly annoyed, we are often more than a little surprised, for worse and, thankfully, for better.