Can’t Take Her Anywhere
My (now ex) boyfriend, John, and I had been dating for awhile and I had moved to be closer to him. When I moved, his mom (whom I only knew a little), Alice, offered to let me live in the spare room at her house for a few months so I could get on my feet and find an apartment (he lived there too). I accepted and had been living there for a few months when Christmas rolled around.
I work for the Fire Department and would be working over Christmas, so he and I were going to a nice dinner a few days before to celebrate Christmas together. We were getting ready to leave and we saw his mom sitting on the couch by herself with a drink in her hand, watching TV. She also worked for the Fire Department, and when she was off duty she drank like a fish and didn’t have much of a life outside of work. I felt really bad because she seemed kind of lonely (my ex was her only child, they weren’t close and she was divorced), so I asked John if we could invite her and he said yes. He mostly agreed because he knew if she did, then she’d offer to pay for the meal (the more I got to know her and John the more I realized that buying him stuff and paying for things was her way of trying to buy his affection for being absent during his childhood).
So we asked, she accepted, and we all left the house – only to realize, as we were walking to the car, that she was barefoot and didn’t seem to realize it. She was also stumbling around, walking into parked vehicles in the driveway. As it started to dawn on me that Alice was already blitzed, she noticed that the neighbors across the street, who are Hispanic, seemed to have some kind of fire in their backyard (probably a barbecue or fire pit). She started doing this passive aggressive thing where you talk super loud, like you’re having a conversation with the people around you, but in the hopes that someone else will hear it. She was saying things like “Are they burning?! You can’t burn in your yard!! I, as a firefighter, cannot ALLOW this sort of thing to happen! Bunch of MEXICANS!” I was horrified. John started shoving her back in the house, telling her she forgot her shoes and trying to get her to stop talking. I just kept looking at the neighbor’s house, hoping that they didn’t hear her racist rants.
We got her back out to the car, quietly, though she kept grumbling about “those damn Mexicans,” and headed to the restaurant. We took her to a place that we loved…we would eat there all the time and they had the yummiest food. We thought it would be kind of a nice treat. We wanted to share our favorite dishes with her, so we started talking them up for the whole ride.
The first thing she ordered when we sit down: vodka, with just a splash of cranberry juice (cause, you know, that added tiny bit of juice somehow changes the fact that you’re drinking vodka straight up). I squeezed John’s knee, thinking ‘she doesn’t need any more alcohol.’ Through the course of the meal she drank three more, in addition to the three or so she’d already had at the house beforehand. For the rest of the meal she was a drunken Debbie downer.
We ordered all our favorite appetizers and entrees, sharing them between each other. After every bite of every dish that Alice tried, she would complain that the food tasted awful. She’d sit there with her arms crossed, sniffing about how the restaurant was bad, the wait staff was awful, the food wasn’t good, etc. etc., all VERY loudly so they could hear it. Any time food was brought to the table, she had a complaint for the poor waitress…her steak was over cooked (no it wasn’t), her mixed vegetables weren’t “mixed enough” (eg: not enough variety to be called “mixed” apparently), her water didn’t have enough ice in it (not that she was drinking the water).
She even had the waitress call over the MANAGER because John ordered a meal that came with a side, in a bowl, that sat on the plate next to the rest of the food. Her complaint: “Why is the plate touching the food?” She was too hammered to adequately get her point across, but I could sort of see what she was trying to ask. She wanted to know why the side dish was on the plate next to the other food rather than on its own…as if they, I dunno, dunked the bowl in feces before setting it next to his lobster. The manager tried to explain that they washed all their dishes and it wasn’t a problem, but Alice just gave him this sarcastic simpering smile and waved him away, like he was too stupid to understand what she was saying.
I spent the whole meal not saying a word, with one hand permanently squeezing John’s knee, silently begging for the waitress not to have spit in our food, I wouldn’t have blamed her at this point. When the check came, Alice immediately grabbed it and made a show of pulling out her cash. She made sure to tell us, in full hearing of the waitress, that she gave a more than 20% tip, not that anyone actually deserved it, but that’s because that’s how nice she is. As we were walking out, John turned around saying he wanted a mint, went back inside and gave the waitress another $20, saying he was so sorry for what she had to put up with.
We never went back to that restaurant again. We also avoided ever eating another meal with Alice in public again unless we knew she was totally sober before we left.
Years later, John and I had broken up but were still friends (and could, thankfully, laugh about that miserable night). We had a favorite sushi restaurant that we frequented. He told me one night, while I was at work, that he’d taken Alice there for dinner. I joked that I was bummed I missed out on sushi. He said he’d taken her when I was at work so if she was an ass to the people who worked there, at least it wouldn’t keep me from coming back again, ha! Apparently, before they went inside, he prefaced the meal with “Look…this is a restaurant that we both really like. Don’t. Ruin. It.” She didn’t totally understand and he reminded her about the Christmas dinner. He didn’t think she really liked the sushi place, but at least she was polite and kept her opinion to herself this time!