As part of our anniversary celebration throughout 2017, we will re-print some of our favorite photos and stories from the past 25 years. These specials are identified with our “25th Anniversary Feature” banner at the top of the page.
This “SUWAT” was originally published in August, 2003.
The Good Doctor and I decided to punch out the pressure of a stressful week with a Friday night excursion to one of our local steakhouses, known for its amazing service and beaucoup flashy flair. We were greeted in the bar by the overwhelming din of chatter as the oratory motors of the patrons were unduly lubricated with happy hour cocktails. The place was filled with all types: the businessmen in ties; the couples in love; the singles looking. We were seated in the corner at a tall table with chairs on stilts so high, if the water main in the kitchen burst, I figured we’d be dry for at least an hour.
Along came a server, hoisting a huge tray jammed full with seafood appetizers, a young man with a confident gait who pushed his way through the masses who overstuffed the bar, seeking an open lane to deliver food to the hungry. He cut left and then right through the bobbing and weaving obstacles, all while carrying a tray that weighed (I’m guessing) 50 pounds.
As he passed our table in the corner, the Doctor and I thought he might be carrying a little too much. Before I got the words “that looks heavy…” out of my mouth, the tray started to list, and while the server struggled to hang on, wave after wave of scrumptious seafood delights surrendered to gravity and tread-milled themselves onto the back of one unsuspecting patron at the bar.
There was an explosion of ice and aluminum trays and the Succulent Snow Crab claws ricocheted everywhere as cocktail sauce splashed on everyone’s shoes. It seemed like the entire restaurant – all of its 200 customers – just froze for a moment. When the last silver tray stopped its protracted wobbling sound and came to a rest, a roar of applause erupted from the crowd. This was a little surprising, since I thought the menu prices might relay a sense of social grace from the clientele, but no.
The man’s white dress shirt was now adorned with a wide, wet racing stripe of black caviar. For that one seized moment, you would have been hard-pressed to find a more woeful niche of employment than that of Man Who Wipes $400 of Fish Eggs Off Other Man’s Shirt.
A strike team of staff, experts in de-escalation and crowd control, descended upon the scene with washcloths and dustpans. With the efficiency of the Cat in the Hat, they cleared the mess down to a lone black stripe of caviar ink on the man’s back – the final sliver of evidence.
The strike team included two men in suits with superspy-like earpieces, which they tapped with their index fingers repeatedly while delivering orders in hushed tones. Racing Stripe was surprisingly calm, much to my dismay, as the Doctor and I had exchanged 5 to 1 on the freakout.
A man in a crisp Armani suit, The Equalizer, came over and shook Racing Stripe’s hand as if they were at a Rotary meeting and spoke directly into his ear. Nothing to worry about sir, your tab is covered, and we appreciate your understanding and patience. That man has already been fired. Send me the receipt for your new shirt and I’ll personally take care of it. Yes, indeed, my name is The Equalizer. Send me the bill, sir and I’ll take care of it. Enjoy yourself tonight sir, anything you want is on the house.
Before this moment turned stale, the Doctor and I hopped into his slick customized van and embarked on the rest of our evening, knowing that we wouldn’t be able to topple this priceless incident from our personal Top Ten List for a very long time. It was worth the five bucks I lost on the bet.
— Greg can be reached via e-mail: