The Jewish Dining Experience

So it’s Grandma’s Birthday… and she decides we’re going to that well known Restaurant in Edgware… I say McD’s, but she reminds me it shut years ago, and says “you know THAT kosher one down the bottom” No more to say, Anyone, who’s anyone, knows where I mean.

 

So off we go.  We’ve a table booked for 8pm, but we don’t turn up till twenty past. “just in case they aren’t ready for us.”

We walk in, and instantly everyone is looking at us. Up and down they stare, with their faces saying a mixture of:

  1. Do I know you?
  2. could you be a shidduch for my daughter/son/mother/brother/sister/dogs brother’s sisters son
  3. Am I sure I don’t know you
  4. I don’t know you, what are you doing in here meshugganeh.

Everyone looking, that is, Except the waiters and waitresses.

 

Eventually one of them throws my Grandmother a “YES” in a suitably abrupt fashion. Grandma explains we have a table for 5, and the waitress again says “YES”. After a few Yes’ we get dragged through the diners, all doing the faces above, to our table.

 

Turns out, of course, that Grandma knows not one table of people, BUT TWO.

 

The woman on the table next to us (who Grandma knows) Starts talking to us, and says “So, where are you living now?!” When Grandma tells her “Barnet” the woman answers with “Is it nice”.

 

What’s she expecting as a response?! “No, It’s horrible but I suffer in silence”. It’s not a holiday apartment it Costa del Otzenplotz, but Barnet, not even ten minutes down the road!

 

Anyway, we order drinks, three of us order Coke, so the waiter says “I’ll bring bottle it’s cheaper.” with a tone that makes you feel like he’s doing you a favour for it to be cheaper. Only in a Jewish Gaff.

 

Starters were more-or-less uneventful, with the odd funny comment coming from the table next to us, including a chat about the squirrels that got into Grandma’s shul. I might have mentioned The Ashkenazi (Grey) and the Sephadi (Red) Squirrels and how they made up a minyan….

 

THEN I decide to inspect the porcelain. Upon standing up, almost every head in the place shoots into position, and plays again through the faces mentioned above. THEY KNOW THEY DON’T KNOW ME!

 

Main course comes, I’ve ordered too much, and I’m draying through the beef burger wishing I’d gone shishlick when the other table we know comes over to say hello as they leave. The waiters and waitresses, take this as prime time:

Carefully they watch as we natter to the other people, and while our eyes are averted and our hands are talking, they try to remove anything surplus from the table, like a game of Jewish Jenga.

Waitress was caught however on the selection of 3 sauces, to which my brother declared “Oh, it’s fine, you might as well take them” despondently.

 

Thankfully mother manages to mouth to the waiter, who takes with subtly the fact that it’s Grandma’s birthday and he manages to bring her desert (sticky toffee pud, for those who care) out with a candle in it.

This prompts the table next to us to wish happy birthday, and even for one of them to ask “Well, who’s birthday is it?” while the candle was still burning in front of Grandma.

Eventually, Dad tells the bloke that he looks familiar. BAD MOVE. This initiates the mission of the Jews at dinner: Find a link. Links are suggested as follows:

  • What Shul do you belong too?
  • Who’s the Rabbi?
  • Who was the Rabbi Before that?
  • Before that?
  • Do you play tennis?
  • What do you do for a living? Taxi driver?
  • Do you know: Sid, Shlomo, Hymie / Cohen, Goldstein, Ubeplatz – they all drive taxi’s?

They should have settled on “did you have a bit removed on the 8th day”!

Eventually, they find a vague link through my brother’s girlfriend from Manchester, and the bloke next to us’s Son’s fiancée – I was happy for this palava to be over.

 

In the confusion however, intermingled with the Hymie’s and the Shlomo’s the table has been pretty much cleared, and it’s only by good judgement, that I held my glass at all times, and was still left with it.

 

All of a sudden, there is a dreadful “clacking” noise. Someone’s desert is ready and the chef is banging it on the table at the back for service. The waiter doesn’t hear, so my brother picks up the salt cellar, and starts clacking that. Then the pepper, then a glass, then all three. Eventually the waiter comes over and says to my brother “What” to which my brother (A trainee chef) replies “He wants you” (pointing to the chef) and the waiter replies “NO, What do YOU want?”

 

Eventually we get the bill, pay up, and head for the door. Prompting the scouting of heads again… This time it’s a splattering of:

  1. Not sure he’s a good shidduch
  2. Why haven’t they said hello, I’m sure I know them now they are leaving.
  3. Sid –  ask them where I know them from as they walk past.
  4. Why are they leaving now, they got here after me, was something wrong.
  5. Where’s my bloody dessert.

What a Kerfuffle… but I’m full up…. and you can’t say it wasn’t an experience.

Funny? Coincidence? Life!

Most of my friends have come to accept two things if they are out in public with me:

 

1. I WILL know someone wherever I go. (and if I don’t know someone, I’ll happen to talk to someone, who knows someone….)

2. Something ridiculous will happen. Usually things going wrong, or things getting in a pickle. (If they aren’t going wrong, then usually I accidentally give them a helping hand….)

 

Often 1 & 2 tie themselves together. For Example, I once dived under a table to hide from the person who’s walked into the room, whom I didn’t like…. In the process (which looked like a mix between a James Bond move…. and a constipated swan) I managed to knock over a glass of coke. Resulting in my very wet crotch, when said person of dislike came to greet me.

 

A classic example occurred tonight. Out for dinner with my Parents, Grandparents and Aunt for My Granddad’s birthday.

 

Things of note:

  1. My mum and dad knew 2 of the people on the next table, My aunt two people from a table further down and there were a few more familiar faces in there.
  2. Everything had gone swimmingly with no major event…. until.

It’s after main course. We’re waiting tea, but when it’s a birthday you are really awaiting the cake.

Good ole “Poppa” (My granddad) Decides it’s time to assess the restaurant’s porcelain, at the same time as the restaurant decides it’s cake time.

 

Up he gets, and off he saunters towards the rear (right) of the restaurant  oblivious to the fluster also occurring at the rear (left) involving 2 waitresses and a waiter (the cake).

No sooner has the door to the toilet closed, the lights in the restaurant fade, as does the music, and our waitress prepares for “Happy Birthday”.

By this point, Mother, Aunt and Nanny are uncontrollable hysterical not knowing what to do.

It was a stroke of luck (and a lot of flapping on my behalf) that the waitress caught my eye, and decided it was best to abandon mission for a short while. Lights on, music back, confused fellow diners.

 

Needless to say, when he returned from the cloakroom, no one was able to look at each other.

 

Point proven. We knew someone, and something went wrong.

 

Some call it a bock, I prefer “the spice of life” but wherever I go, something crazy happens, resulting in a great story for retelling at a later date. All the Crazy things are true! PROMISE!