Saturday, April 18, 2009

One Hundred Things My Mother Taught Me A Million Times - Chapter 3

#3 - "Never accept the first table the host tries to give you at a restaurant."

I remember this being one of those things my mother did that embarrassed me when I was a child. Now it is something I do that embarrasses my husband. I rarely accept the first table offered by a restaurant host. It's not an arbitrary "snob" thing; it's because, just like mom said, hosts try to get rid of the worst tables first - the one by the bathroom, the one by the service area, or the one by the entrance where you spend your meal looking at other people's behinds while they wait for their table.

I'm not worthy to touch the hem of Malcolm Gladwell's garment, (Blink, Tipping Point, Outliers) but he and I do share a fascination with human nature, so I have a couple of observations about this issue of the crappy table - the prime distinction between Malcolm and I being his observations are researched while mine are gut reactions. Malcolm gives gut reactions great credit in his book Blink, so I feel justified. Besides, it's my blog. CLICK ON READ MORE BELOW...

One observation is that I usually get offered the terrible table when one or both of the following precursors exist:
      I look, let's say "not at my best," and/or
      I open my mouth.
If I walk into a really nice restaurant underdressed, or looking predictably tacky in my $23.97 little black dress from Target, the look on the host’s face is unmistakable. You can imagine her/him thinking, "Oh my, I wish we had a table in the bathroom. I have got to get her out of sight!" It's really rather humorous. Then when s/he leads us to the back of the restaurant and tries to seat us at a table next to the cart where they put all the dirty dishes, and I refuse the table....well, there are near tears. It is just this fun, little game I enjoy. Sorry.

Even if I show up in my Escada suit and my Christian Louboutin shoes and the host hears me speaking in my pretty distinctive west Texas drawl, I get the same reaction. "Oh my, it's the Beverly Hillbillies. Where can I hide them?"

I used to try to try to disguise my west Texas accent; then three things happened. First, I read Robert Caro's book about Lyndon Johnson in which he quotes LBJ saying something along the lines of, "I call it stepin' and fetchin'. You talk slow and simple and people underestimate you - basically gives you an advantage." And then there was Ann Richards (you know I love you Gal); her diction was as famous as Barbara Jordan's. And then there were the foreign men, who were positively charmed. So on occasion, when it serves me, or if I'm toying with someone, I lay it on thick.

Back to the bad table… I should point out that this situation doesn't just apply to fancy-schmancy restaurants; I've been snubbed at Denny's. So mom's rule about not accepting the first table offered at a restaurant doesn't really have anything to do with class distinction, but it does bring to mind one of my favorite aphorisms (I try to use my words of the week) which is, "All you'll ever have, is whatever it is that you are willing to settle for." I'll write more about this later, and I assure you I have a lot to say.

So mom was right. Never accept the first table the host tries to give you at a restaurant


  1. Amazing - I just wrote about Gladwell in a guest column for the Odessa American. He was here this week, speaking at UTPB. Well, you know what they say about great minds and all that. I am going to send your blog to some of my friends who I think will enjoy your writing - as I do! Charlena

  2. Thanks Charlena! I love Gladwell's books! Was he a good speaker? Send me the link to your article. I'd like to read it. I'll see if I can Google it up.