At my favorite eatery the waiter is played by a slow-talking gent who looks like an aged Super Mario without plumber cap or princess. He is also the restaurants host, cashier, disc jockey, and resident artist - always drawing large humming birds flying among naked trees. He is quite prolific in his art, but with little room to display, his scenes have begun to pile up like stacks of white rectangular pancakes. He has a few off-putting traits and a wealth of cryptic jokes that begin as soon as you walk in the door.
"How are you?" I ask.
"Horrible," he says.
I have learned not to ask, or I frame it in a way that "horrible" cannot be the go-to response.
He routinely seats groups of guests at tables directly beside one another (even when the restaurant is completely void of other patrons), and has a proclivity to offer personal stories that focus on techniques for self improvement. Like a traveling showman, he prefers the group setting (for maximum exposure) and since I usually eat alone, I am generally excluded from storytime and left free to witness others fall victim to his routine.
One such instance happened recently during the midday rush to a table of businessmen wearing ill-considered neckties. Perfunctory introductions were made, and our host came at them with the "horrible" bit, which, to my surprise, was met with much fanfare from this group of four. Sensing an opportunity, he launched into a sermon I have never heard, a recipe for "the best BBQ sauce you've ever tasted." He guaranteed it. The description took the better half of four minutes, during which, I watched another group, a party of two, hover around the entrance way waiting to be seated. They were extremely patient, these two, and for a moment I thought about interrupting on their behalf, but they left before I could speak, unacknowledged and unhappy.