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Picture it.

2018.  Applebee’s in the mall.

My girlfriend has forgotten her reading glasses.  This is nothing new.

But as I looked out across the mall from the restaurant window, I spied with my little eye a Hallmark store.  Surely they have reading glasses.  You can get them for a couple of bucks at the Dollar Store.  Most pharmacies.  Wal-Mart.  The list goes on.

We were still waiting for another couple so I opined, “I wonder if the Hallmark store would have reading glasses?”

The granddaughter of another couple dining with us assured me that they do.

I asked my girlfriend, “Do you want me to get you some glasses?  Or should I read you the menu?”

So I was off for glasses!

Quest

I entered the Hallmark Store.  I was slightly distracted by a display of Penn State paraphernalia, but I resisted the urge to buy something blue and white which is not used for reading and instead headed directly to the clerk behind the cash register.

“Do you sell reading glasses?”

She informed me they do not.  She was sorry.  (Didn’t look sorry if you ask me.) But apparently life sucks sometimes.

Now it just so happens that there is a Lens Crafters optical shop next door.  As an eye surgeon who owns his own optical dispensary, I had a vague anxiety about entering this establishment.  I feared a patient of mine would see me and then wonder why I was shopping for glasses at a competitor’s store.

But my alternative is to return to Applebee’s defeated and without the glasses.  I would not be defeated!

Len Crafters does not sell over-the-counter reading glasses.  Even our optical shop sells OTC cheater readers.

I exited the store dejected.  I tried to sort through my options, but I kept thinking of that Penn State stuff I saw in Hallmark.  I could drive home, which is closer than driving to my optical shop.  That just smelled of loser right there.

I looked up and saw Sears.  Could they?  Would they?

A clerk sent me to Sears Optical.  They don’t sell them either!

“Why not,” I asked incredulously.

“Because you can buy them at any pharmacy, or Target.”

Well that’s a fine how-do-you-do.  Let’s just leave the fate of the presbyopic world to the Targets and Wal-Marts.

As I turned away in defeat, a thought occurred to me.  Maybe a bookstore would have reading glasses.  “Is there a bookstore that might sell reading glasses?”

Her eyes lit up.  “Yes.  Barnes & Noble’s has them.”

Now gentle reader, I fully know you don’t know where I am–other than a Sears Optical which could be located in any mall anywhere.  So let me enlighten you.  This mall does not have a Barnes & Noble.  The mall across town closer to my office has a Barnes & Noble.

Trying desperately not to strangle this woman, I asked through clenched teeth, “Is there any bookstore in THIS mall?”

She thinks for a moment.  “There’s a Walden Books.  Here on the first floor.  But I don’t know if they are still in business.”

I am defeated.  Just for the record, the First National Bank besides Sears doesn’t sell reading glasses either.

I walk the walk of shame back towards Applebee’s with no glasses in hand when the granddaughter catches up with me.  Apparently they were all watching as I went from store to store.

“Why didn’t you buy them in Hallmark?” she asked me.

“The lady told me they don’t sell them.”

Apparently, granddaughter, being a teenager, KNOWS the mall.

We head back to the Hallmark store.  She shows me a basket in the back filled with reading glasses.  Cue the heavenly music.  The basket is virtually glowing.  I’m glowing.

I put the glasses down by the register and the woman who told me they didn’t sell them looked at me in astonishment and asked, “where did you get these?”

“Not from Sears optical.  Or the bank.  Back there.”  I point.  We all look.  “In a basket.”

She looked at them in disbelief.

But I’m on this.  “So since you don’t actually sell reading glasses, I suppose I can just take these without paying?”

She laughed.  Ka-ching!  Palmed those glasses into a bag more deftly than David Copperfield could make the Statue of Liberty disappear.

“That’ll be $24.95.”

“Are you kidding me?  We sell them for less.  You can get them in the Dollar Store for a buck or two.”

“Do you want these?”

I can’t believe I just paid a store almost $25 for something they don’t even sell.

But the Quest was a success!

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My track record with dining out at restaurants is not impressive.

I once tried to order a 99 cent Whopper at Wendy’s.  I had it in my mind–I saw the advertisement for 99 cent whoppers and had to have one–but apparently Wendy’s won’t let me have it my way.  I paid more than 99 cents for a burger that was NOT a whopper.

I ordered coconut shrimp and lobster at Outback–and ended up with an empty lobster tail.

I once paid $48 for a coke.  The drink–not the drug.

And there was a “fine dining” experience (you know, you go to a place where you can’t wear blue jeans and they require a tie) that involved bok choy, enoki mushrooms and consommé.  I still think they were making that shiitake up.

Today we were meeting my daughter at TGI Friday’s even though it is Sunday.  I’m sorry.  It throws me off balance as well.  It’s like going into Five Guys, and there are aren’t Five Guys behind the counter.  (I’m pretty sure one of them was a woman!)  But I digress.

She had given me a list of restaurant choices that she would be happy with and asked me to pick one.  I specifically picked Friday’s because they serve Kona Big Wave Golden Ale.

So when the waiter took our drink order, guess what I ordered?  Well he brought the other drinks out and said he had to get my Heaven in a glass from the bar.  Minutes later, he appears without my Golden Ale.  They are out of it.

I should have got up and left right then and there.  But I had already looked at the menu and saw a new Philly Steak Burger.  It comes with an egg roll on top!  I kid you not!  Someone asked themselves how you could make a burger even more unhealthy than it already is, and somebody came up with the idea of tacking on extra stuff outside the bun.  Brilliant!

SteakBurger

I want that!  So I ordered it.

THIS . . . is what I got.

MyBurger

Do you see an egg roll stapled to my bun?  Dude?  Where’s my egg roll?  Is this going to be like Outback all over again when the waiter argues that I already ate the lobster even though the tail shell was clearly empty!

He informs me they don’t have the egg rolls in stock.

I am so bummed I ended up drowning my sorrows in a half piece of Tennessee Whiskey Cake, because quite frankly, paying $8 for the full piece just seems like highway robbery.

After I got home, I was still stewing over not getting my Kona beer and then not getting the sandwich that was advertised.  It was then that I wondered if perhaps I paid for the sandwich with an egg roll but did not get the egg roll?  I also thought it might have been nice if the manager would have comped my dessert in lieu of payment for an egg roll that didn’t exist.

That’s when I discovered that CORY–our waiter, bless his little heart–had actually comped me my burger without telling me.  For the record, I did tip him well–I rounded up the 20% recommendation to make the number come out round, but that was based on the adjusted bill.  After all, it wasn’t his fault the bar was out of my beer and someone in purchasing forgot to order the egg rolls.

And now I feel worse.

I should have gone to Denny’s.

Oh wait,  That didn’t work out well for me either . . .

CoffeeCup

That’s my coffee . . .but that’s NOT my lipstick!

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You might be a redneck in Pennsylvania if . . . .

You go to the bathroom and see . . .

Gunshow

Gun Show Advertisement

Fishing

Beer Advertisement

Your beer advertisement also has a handy fishing season schedule, since those two things (drinkin’ and fishin’) go together like peanut butter and jelly.  And last (but certainly NOT LEAST!) your:

Dispenser

Condom Dispenser

You got your guns, beer and sex.  It’s like a farmersonly commercial.  What more could you need?

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Recently, I was eating at a Japanese Restaurant, when I came across this on the menu . . .

Leppuce2

Japanengrish?  It would appear that somehow in the translation, the T’s and P’s got reversed, so a Lettuce Wrap became a Leppuce Wrat. Or so we hope.  And pray.

There’s some peas in my leppuce that someone put there.  They know I don’t like peas but they do not care. I actually do like peas, but not in my lettuce, thank you very much.

Worse yet, I worry that there might be a dead wrat laying on my leppuce.

And as you know, I do not eat wrat.  It is not on my lunch bucket list.

I will not eat it here or there, I will not eat it anywhere.  Not on a boat.  Not with a goat.  (Who probably loves leppuce.)  Not in a car.  Not in a bar.  (There is not enough beer in Japan to convinve me to dine on wrats.)

And that’s a wrat, folks!

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As circumstances in my life have evolved, I have had the opportunity to dine alone several times recently.  If you have never experienced this wonderful situation, I highly recommend you give it a try.

There are several advantages to dining alone.

You almost always get a table.  Party of one–come on down!  Often, it is in a remote corner of the establishment where you will feel comfortable with your dining experience knowing no one else can see you.  This is often called Loser’s Corner in the restaurant business.  But for those of us that like privacy when we eat, you can’t beat the ambiance.  We are winners!

They should have put a TV on this wall!

They should have put a TV on this wall!

Sometimes, though, you might have to sit outside.  perhaps in the alley.

Table4One

And if things are really tight, you might end up here.  On the bright side, if you need extra napkins, the roll is right there.

ToiletDining

Another advantage is that the meal goes faster.  It takes the chef less time to prepare one meal.  He has fewer burgers to flip so the food arrives quickly.  Also, there is no annoying dinner conversation to slow one down.  It’s hard to talk and chew at the same time, and quite frankly, if you do that, then that’s probably another reason why you are dining alone right now anyway.  You can still carry on those remarkably entertaining conversations in your head, without spewing croutons across the table.

You don’t have to worry about that awkward moment when the waitress asks if this will be separate checks, or if she doesn’t ask, sets the bill down between you and your dinner date leaving the two of you to glance between the check, each other, and pretty much any other point in the restaurant which would be less uncomfortable.

The bill is lower since you’re only paying for one.  The tip is lower as well.  Have I convinced you this is the way to go, yet?

But it’s not all fun and games.  It can still be awkward if you order the lobster.  Especially if you are at Burger King–have it your way apparently does not include surf and turf.  And if you order the most expensive meal, will you get lucky tonight?  Your hand starts to tremble in anticipation.  You drop your lobster in the butter.  There’s a lot of pressure there if you order the lobster.  If your wrist is sore, or you have a headache, you might want to stick with the salad.

But if you are prepared and dine modestly, the evening can be delightful.  Prepare some jokes in your head to entertain yourself.  Other patrons in the restaurant will be envious of you laughing to yourself and making them wish they were dining with you.  At the cool table!  Don’t be rude and ignore yourself while texting on the phone.  After all, if you had someone to text, you wouldn’t be sitting there alone anyway.

And if your restaurant has televisions, you have the choice of seats around the table to have the view of whatever TV you want!

Lone Appétit!

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So I went to Outback Steakhouse tonight.  Now I have been known in the past to try and order a whopper at Wendy’s–they do not appreciate that let me tell you!–but it’s a Steakhouse.  How could I go wrong here?  Order an Onion Blossom instead of a Bloomin’ Onion?

No.  I took fail to a whole new level tonight.

I was perusing the menu, and  I saw Coconut Shrimp and Steak.  This looks good.  I’m not a big shrimp fan, nor a coconut fan, but for some reason, when you put the two together, I can go co-co-co-coconuts for that.  Throw in that orange marmalade goop and you don’t even know you’re eating shrimp!  (Although the pina colada stuff at Red Lobster puts the orange crap to shame, but I digress.)

Can you go wrong with this?

Can you go wrong with this?

But they also have some lobster specials, and while shrimp is meh, lobster is the real deal.  Add a steak, and you can definitely deal me in.  Add some coconut shrimp and orange goop, well, I may just have died and gone to Heaven.

Do you not see three items here:  steak, coconut shrimp and a lobster tail hiding in the back?

Do you not see three items here: steak, coconut shrimp and a lobster tail hiding in the back? (Pay no attention to that green crap.)

My meal arrives and looks as advertised.  I quickly put away the two shrimp, which by the way, were humongous.  They must be like super jumbo shrimp.  But slathering them in orange goop, I get them out of the way, since that is my least favorite part of this triple play combo.

Up next.  Steak.  Say what you want about the folks from Down Under, but they do a great steak on the barbie.

I have saved the best for last.  The lobster tail.  The pièce de résistance.

Fish may be Friends not food, but Bruce is having Lobster tonight!

Fish may be friends not food, but Bruce is having Lobster tonight!

It looks so good.  My mouth is watering in anticipation, although it might be due to the spice on the steak or the fact that my waitress hasn’t brought me a refill.  I turn it over and . . .

Dude!  Somebody stole yo' lobster!

Dude! Somebody stole yo’ lobster!

OMG!  The bastards gave me an empty shell!  They are trying to rip me off!  I frantically try to find our waitress, and quite frankly, don’t they all start to look the same when you need one?  I finally get her attention without having to stand up on the table and swing from the lamp, which would have totally embarrassed my sons to death.  Little did they know that they should have already headed for the door.

So I point to the empty carcass and complain, “I didn’t get my lobster tail!”

To which she replies, “Sir, you already ate it.”

Oh, no!  Don’t you be that waitress.  I did not already eat this tail and then try to game you out of another one.   After all, it’s not like this is going to come out of your pocket.  The damned chef is the one back there eating my lobster on his break.

“No I didn’t.”

“Yes you did.  It’s coconut lobster.  You ate it already.  I saw you.”

I stared into her eyes.  They were telling me that not only did she see me eat the coconut “shrimp” but she saw me down them so fast that I still have orange goop on my lips.  I think I had just shoved one in my mouth next to my tonsils when she stopped by to ask how everything tasted.  Apparently she didn’t understand me complimenting the shrimp that was stuck in my throat.  It was not a pleasant stare.  She was looking at me with disdain.

“You mean . . .”

“It’s steak and coconut lobster.  There isn’t any shrimp.”

Well put a star on my forehead and call me a Christmas Tree.  I did not see that coming.

My triple play ultimate combo was really a double play, with a fake tail that the waitress claims they put on the plate for “effect.”  Like a placebo effect.  It just makes you feel like you’ve had lobster.  I’ve heard of the Butterfly Effect but I have never heard of the Lobster Effect.

And worse yet, I have already eaten my damned lobster!  First instead of last!  You can’t do it in that order!  And I thought it was shrimp!  (In all honesty, it was really good shrimp, which now in hindsight makes sense since it was lobster and not shrimp after all.)

I should have read the menu, instead of just looking at the pretty pictures.

My sons may never eat with me again.

Next time, I’ll stick to Red Lobster.  At least there is lobster in the name.

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I was out to dinner tonight at an Italian Restaurant (or should I say ristorante?) when I noticed this little bit of information at the bottom of the menu:

MeatballPrice

One meatball for $2.09?  $2.09?  Seriously???

It’s not that I have a problem with the restaurant charging extra for additional meatballs, or even the (meat) ball park price they have set.  They are large meatballs, truth be told.  But it’s the oddly specific amount that doesn’t make sense.

Why not just $2.00?  Our state sales tax is 6%, so it’s not two dollars plus tax.

Is the profit margin of this establishment so narrow that they need to charge an additional nine cents to keep the lights on and the staff paid?

Or did someone literally sit down and calculate the cost of adding one meatball to a meal for an arbitrary profit margin that yielded a result of $2.09?

The world may never know.

And I ordered the veal anyway.

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