Monday, 18 April 2011

I'll have the Early Bird menu without the sexist assumptions, please!

The Snapper’s splendid parents are back in Galway City, so last night we had a lovely meal at one of the many Quay Street restaurants offering recession-busting Early Bird menus

The food was cooked simply and to great effect, while the service was friendly and prompt.
On three separate occasions whilst in the restaurant I felt so very male, which, surprising as it might seem to many of you, was not a terrible phenomenon.

The first time my testicles affected my brainbox was when my mother-in-law told the waitress that she didn’t want a starter and proceeded to order her main course from the Early Bird menu. The waitress (who was friendly and German) suddenly interrupted her, telling her that she couldn’t order from the Early Bird menu any more, because it was a three course menu. If she wanted that dish without a starter she’d have to go to the á la carte menu.

Had she said ‘Madam might find ordering á la carte more reasonable if she requires only two
courses’ I might have understood, but she didn’t.

My testosterone took the Spinal Chord Expressway to my binary male brain, and I had to bite my lip to stop myself intervening. My in-laws were in my home town, so I felt protective, but in a trice the Snapper applied her charm and a lifetime of restaurant management experience to the situation, explaining to the waitress that her mother would have this dish on the á la carte menu, without that but with this, so that when it turned up, exactly as it appeared on the Early Bird menu, it was exactly what her mother wanted.

As I sit here and write this, I still cannot for the life of male logic understand why wanting to eat less disqualified my mother-in-law from the €25 euro Early Bird menu. Had she been a difficult customer, asking to insert something that wasn’t on the set menu into it, I would have understood, but she didn’t. She simply wanted two courses of a three course menu, but was told that she couldn’t have it, which also meant that she had to order dessert separately from the group, and generally might have felt unnecessarily marginalised, had she not been such a good sport.

By the time her rhubarb crumble arrived we three had already finished our Early Bird desserts (no manners, some people!) so her husband took a spoon to help himself to a taste. When the waitress returned she noticed the two spoons on her plate and joked about how my mother-in-law must have been using one spoon to eat with and the other, to fend off us dessert vultures. Then she went and spoiled it all by spouting well-worn nonsense about how she could manage that, because as a woman, she could multi-task.

Sitting there I felt for the umpteenth time aware that even though I have dangly bits where girls have not, I am very able to multi-task. Not for the first time this colyoom stands up for men, because we have to be subjected to sexist ridicule as a matter of course, each and every day.

Yes, I know it’s a patriarchal society, and that if women ruled the world we’d have no nuclear weapons, but that is not my personal fault. I’m a socially-aware sensitive New Man who is oh-so very tired of hearing my gender freely and openly slagged off on TV, radio, in print and in real life.

Quite possibly women are better multi-taskers that men, but that doesn’t mean that all men are unable to multitask, any more than it means all women are unable to comprehend the workings of the internal combustion engine, or that all gay men are great dancers, or lesbians wear pork pie hats.

It’s a nonsensical sexist assumption, but for some reason women are allowed to publicly proffer those, while we verbally-battered men are way too scared to say anything of the sort.

The third time I felt fantastically male last night was wholly down to me being a clumsy oaf.  Our table in the restaurant was tucked into the eave of the attic space, and as I slid around to settle into my seat, I brushed a candle lantern that was hanging in the window, spilling candle wax down my jacket, over my jeans and onto the floor.

In retrospect I could have been a complete pain and complained that a restaurant having something loaded with hot wax swinging at head height from the ceiling might not be a very good idea, blah blah blah, Health and Safety, blah blah blah, but I didn’t. Nevertheless I was admonished  by my wife and felt pretty badly myself about the mess on the floor.

Later, as I returned from the restaurant loo, I thought it would be polite to apologise to our waitress about the mess, so I went over to her and said sorry, at which she unleashed a good-natured yet lengthy and preachy lecture about how I must stay behind and clean up the mess; how my wife would have a nightmare ironing the wax out of my clothes; my poor wife this and my poor wife that.

Of course it was my fault I knocked into the lantern, but beyond that, it was not my fault that it was hung so low, right by the table, and it was certainly not my fault that in this waitresses’ eyes I had caused all sorts of problems for my wife.

I decided to let her spill her venom, resisting the strong temptation to point out that actually, it was my jacket and my jeans that had been damaged, and that I (and therefore she and her restaurant as a whole) was pretty lucky I hadn’t been burned by hot wax hitting my neck or other bare-fleshy parts.

God forbid I had said something along the lines of ‘ow the little woman was goin’ to ‘ave an ‘eck of a job gettin’ that crap off've me clothes.

But I didn’t. She was the one making sexist assumptions, not me.

1 comment:

Charlie Adley said...

Have to admit: this particular type of ranty auld colyoom sometimes delivers unto me a self-indulgent catharsis.

After this one above was written out of me, I had a hot shower. Looking at myself naked in front of the mirror (don't go there) I thought about the night before and wondered if maybe, just maybe, I'd temporarily lost my sense of humour.