Friday, August 19

Where My Business Is Your Business

Last night we went to dinner at a certain Italian chain restaurant whose initials are O.G. and rhymes with Bolive Rarden. As I've mentioned before, my daughter has numerous food allergies and because I still breastfeed her, I must follow her dietary restrictions as well. I can't order restaurant food, so I ate before we left. We were treating friends, Emily and Carlos, and a friend of theirs, Kristi, as a thank-you for helping us move last weekend. (THANK YOU!!!)

I had ordered myself a soda with the rest of the drink orders, but when the food orders came, I smiled and told the waitress, "I'm not eating tonight, thanks." She had been reaching to collect menus, but stopped dead and said, unsmiling, "Why not?"

My smile disappeared. WHY NOT? Did I miss the part where that was her business? At any rate, while I usually do not bore people with the details of what my kid can't eat or why I follow her diet, I was shocked into bluntness.

"My daughter has many food allergies, and because I breastfeed, I can't eat any of those foods either," I informed the waitress. Woe unto me, that did not shut her up. Rather, it opened the floodgates for the Slew of Unsolicited Opinions.

"Well, I'd give up breastfeeding then," she informed me. She tsk-tsked at Aurora (captive in the highchair) "Bottle time for you!" She went on (FINALLY taking the menus from everyone else), "I just like food too much for that. Time for formula." I shrugged, "We're happy breastfeeding." She said, "I just hate to see you sit there not eating!" "I'm just fine, thanks," I told her. She finally left.

I exchanged wide-eyed "Okaaaaay" comments with everyone else. Emily said, "She's a toucher, too. Did you notice she touched Aurora's head and she touched my arm twice?" Great. A touchy-feely nosy waitress.

When T-FNW returned with drink refills, she stopped again and asked me, "So what do you eat?" I humored her with, "Fruits and veggies, pork and poultry, rice-based pasta and breads." Her eyes brightened. "We have wheat pasta! You want that?" "Um, no. Can't have wheat. Really, I'm fine," I told her. "How about soup?" she asked. "No, soup usually has stuff in it we can't have," I told her firmly. "I ate before I came, I'm not hungry, thank you."

"Well," she said, "if you're not going to eat, I don't think you should have a drink, either!" She reached over and took my drink off the table. "Thanks for the unsolicited opinion," I retorted. She put the drink back down and said, "I'm just kidding," and took off again. Emily gave us an updated touch count.

Several minutes later (I kid you not) the waitress was back again, this time for the SOLE purpose of crouching down by my chair and asking, "Really, I want to know, what do you eat?" I really wanted to throttle this woman. "Fine, for dinner last night, I had chicken breasts breaded with millet and sorghum flours and fried in canola oil." Her eyes widened, and she left without a word.

Kristi then said, "Hey Meg, next time she asks you what you eat, could you tell her _I_ want more tea?" Poor Kristi had been trying unsuccessfully for several minutes to get a refill. Each time the waitress had returned she had ignored the others (except for Em, whose arm she seemed drawn to touching!) while she interrogated me about my diet.

After awhile, the kidlet was fussing and I took her outside to walk around a bit, so I missed out on spending much more time with the waitress . . . however, she did return later to stick around by our table while we discussed how much Rora looks like my husband. "You must have given her the allergies, too, then," she said to my husband. He blinked. "Maybe so," he said. "Well, you contributed everything else," she said, and elbowed Em in a heh-heh-heh dirty old man-type way.

I didn't see how much we tipped this lady, but I hope not much. In retrospect I really wish I had told her something extremely personal/gross/untrue to shock her into shutting up. You know, "I can't complain too much. With this diet I've lost enough weight that now I only need weekly enemas!" or "I would give up breastfeeding but nothing else cures my itchy nipples." Somehow, though, I don't think even that would have stopped her . . .