It’s Friday night and I’m finishing the wine liturgy for the Yuppies on table 13. The host, a pretentious bald man wearing expensively layered clothes, grilled me about the wine list. Asking questions designed not to gain knowledge but to showcase his knowledge of oenology, he finally settled on a bottle of Pinot Grigio. The guy’s annoying me. Maybe there’s something to that numerology thing.
“The wine’s okay,” the host says, peering at me from behind his thick framed designer glasses. “It’s a shame you don’t have Santa Margherita.”
“Yes sir,” I say, starting to wrap the neck of the bottle with a linen napkin. “I’ll ask the owner to add it to the cellar.”
“It’s the most popular brand of Pinot there is. I can’t believe you don’t have it.”
“I’ll certainly pass along your comments, sir.”
“And you didn’t bring an ice bucket for the wine,” the man says. “You know this wine needs to be served at 55 degrees.”
At that very moment the busboy arrives and places the ice bucket on the table. Without saying a word I slide the half empty bottle into it. Despite my best efforts, the shadow of a shit eating grin crosses my face. The host picks up on it.
“How about getting us some water then?” he snaps. “What kind of mineral water do you have?”
“We have Pellegrino or Panna, sir.”
“No Fiji?” the man says, interrupting me. “What about Ty Nant or Voss?”
“I don’t like Pellegrino. Are you sure you don’t have anything else?”
“We do have Source Municipal, sir.”
“Oh,” the man says, his ears perking up. “What’s that?”
Pause. Wait for it. Wait for it………
“Tap water, sir.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“Water from the faucet, sir,” I say with beatific sincerity. “I can bring it with ice and fresh slices of lemon.”
The man looks at me confusedly. “Are busting my chops?” he asks.
There’s a moment of silence as the host struggles what to say next, I’m not worried he’ll get upset. Anyone who wears an argyle sweater over a yellow button down and oatmeal t-shirt hasn’t got much fight in him. I’ll bet there are pennies in his loafers.
“Just get us the Panna then,” the man says.
“Very good, sir.”
“And give us plenty of time,” the man says, trying to reassert his shaky sense of authority. “We don’t want to be rushed.”
“Of course, sir.”
I head to the service fridge to get the man’s water. Around 2002 artisanal bottled water was all the rage. A few swanky restaurants even hired “water sommeliers” to help patrons pair the “right” water with their food. I think the all the water sommeliers got executed with the tea sommeliers back in 2003. Talk about stupid fads.
I return to the table with a bottle of Panna and several glasses balanced elegantly on a tray. After dispensing the overpriced H2O I rattle off the specials, get the orders, and politely hustle the table out the door in under eighty minutes. They don’t protest and leave 18%. They never had a chance.
As the table heads for the exit I wish them a nice evening. When Argyle wine guru walks past me I look down at his feet. No socks and pennies in the loafers.
I knew it.