Monday, September 24, 2007

Three Indians and a White Guy walk into a steakhouse...

When H came to visit in July, my parents took us out to dinner. My mom chose Sullivan's, because she had been there before with some colleagues and thought H might appreciate a hella good steak.

He did. As did my father. My slab of tuna was just okay and I believe my mom liked what she had, whatever it was. But of course, everybody knows that when you're sharing a meal with the DNA shareholders of your significant other--until you've achieved that certain level of comfortability--what you're consuming has little to do with how the evening goes, save for being the object you concentrate on to keep from thinking about what the other people at the table are thinking about what you might be thinking they're thinking about. Um, awkward.

Don't get me wrong, it wasn't even close to the first time H had hung out with my parents; it was important to me that they all met each other straightaway, mostly because he lives so far away and I wanted them to know he wasn't a serial killer or someone who couldn't appreciate the virtues of a good chapati. And I was actually proud, because that time around, the three of them started to behave a little less oddly and more like their regular selves. Which was a lot less stressful on me.

I really thought we were all acting close to natural and that it went very well. Sullivan's has a '40s, sort of swanky decor, and it was pretty dimly lit. We were all seated toward the back, but that didn't stop three separate people from coming over and asking us how things were going. The fancysuited manager type guy even came by to ask if we were celebrating a special occasion. I simply replied "no," without any further detail and looked at my dinnermates with confusion. They didn't ask the people at adjacent tables any questions.

At the end of the night, a hostess came over with what I assumed was a satisfaction survey, which we thought was odd for a place that is considerably more fancy than Chili's (nothing against Chili's, but babyback ribs were not on the menu, to say the least). It was a card to fill out so Sullivan's could thank us for spending an evening with them. I filled out all of H's California information, and didn't think twice about it.

A few days later, he received this in the mail:



This note is undoctored, save for a tiny bit of PhotoShop trickery by H on his name.



You both? HER PARENTS? Our server, Jennifer, must have been working overtime--on making assumptions, because our conversations were very innocuous. It doesn't matter that she assumed correctly. I purposely told the manager nothing, so for all they knew the Indian people could have been the White guy's parents. Geez, it's 2007, for God's sake. Needless to say, that note freaked me the hell out.

My peeps aren't restaurant types anyway. So this past visit, H came over to the house and my mother cooked an eight-course meal in the comfort of her own kitchen. And for someone whose only experience with Indian food has been Cadiz-made chicken curry and undercooked rice (What!? I was nervous!), H did extremely well and said he enjoyed the food. I was much more relaxed and everyone was acting like themselves. For once.

11 comments:

Jon said...

Are you sure that the table wasn't bugged? Or that they didn't have several cameras focused on the table that "Jennifer" would go and watch in a control room somewhere in the basement? I'm just asking...

Alexandra said...

hmmm...!? wow that is freaky,..

Rena said...

Who knows if you guys keep this up, perhaps Sullivan's will turn into your special place.

That is a cute idea though to keep people coming back. I'd go back.

Beenzzz said...

I think the table was bugged!!! Am...that place is a bit frightening. What a personal note too!

jazz said...

that's not freaky. it's nice. they made assumptions and were right on, which is strange but i think it's pretty cool...

Becky said...

yeah, i can see how it can seem intrusive or presumptuous of them to send a note like that, but their intent was a kind one. and don't forget that you come from your parents, so you probably look a little like them, and as their daughter, your way of interacting with them is probably different than your way of interacting with anyone else. my guess is that, as innocuous as your conversation may have been, your body language gave you away. as a long-time whore to the retail establishment and avid people-watcher, i can say with confidence that it's fairly easy to tell if people are dating or related based on their non-verbals.

Librarian Girl said...

That is very interesting that they didn't seem to take that much interest in the other guests. I could see this as being good customer service if they were doing this with everyone. But just your table? I wonder why? Maybe you guys looked all classy and stuff and they were treating you like high rollers?

ML said...

Er...that note is kinda out of line, I think. Very strange...

Sphincter said...

WTF? That's really bizarre--and maybe I tend to frequent lame establishments, but I have never received a note from a restaurant.

willowtree said...

I'll just chalk it up to me being an uptight, paranoid New Yorker- that's just strange. Maybe the intent was to be nice, but...
I'm not even sure what to make of that. I've lived in the boondocks of MA- those people are nice. This note is freaky.
Just a little.

Guyana-Gyal said...

They have ESP. Has to be that!