I go out to eat a decent amount—maybe once a week—and 95 percent of the time I prefer to wash my meal down with nothing more than a glass of cool, refreshing, melted, condensated, liquid water. (To anticipate a wiseass comment: “HAHAHA, YES! Even when someone else is paying!!) Now, I’ve never been employed as a waiter—I don’t have the patience for it (ba-ZING!)—but I would think that, in the hierarchy of complicated orders, “water” is probably pretty far down the list. Granted, if a customer doesn’t specifically ask for his water in a glass, I can see how you might get confused and end up spraying him in the face with a fire hose later in the evening, but for the most part, I’d imagine a water order is a fairly straightforward Point B from Point C to Point A back to Point C back again to Point A experience (Point B being the waiter, who comes from Point C, the kitchen, and goes to Point A, the customer, whose asks for water—which we’ll call Object W, I suppose, for clarity’s sake—which requires the waiter to return to Point C to get Object W before finally bringing it back to Point A—still the customer in this case, though not always, as the nice thing about a variable—or, as my math teacher liked to call it, a “variable”—is that it can stand for different things at different times—uhhh, something something something, thus fulfilling the original request).
Okay, things got a little garbled back there, but this simplified, color-coordinated flowchart should make it easier:
So, like I said, a fairly straightforward process, which is why I am so flabbergasted by this recent phenomenon that has thrown the entire logical progression out of whack. I’m talking, of course, about the disturbing tendency many restaurants seem to have for indiscriminately garnishing their beverages with triangularly fashioned slices of citrus fruit,1 regardless of whether the adornment was requested, or whether it’s even implied by the beverage (as it might be with a Corona, for example). Even refills come with a fresh wedge o’ sour mockingly bisected by the rim of the glass. Hell, I’ve had drinks that came with the damned things even after specifically requesting that they be left off!
Seriously, what gives? It’s not like the practice can be attributed to some cost-cutting initiative (unless someone has surreptitiously changed the definition of “cost-cutting” to “exorbitant fruit squandering”), and there ain’t exactly an overabundance of food going to waste around the world, so I’m left to speculate. Was there a recent food services convention featuring a series of compelling lectures by respected industry consultants on how customer satisfaction would increase if drinks began coming with attractively sculpted morsels of acetic produce? Or has there perhaps been a worrying increase in the reported number of scurvy cases around the country that has prompted health officials to issue an underground decree requiring restaurants to shoehorn additional helpings of citrus into their customers by any means necessary? (Note that, in the event of the latter, I immediately withdraw my complaint in favor of commending said officials for avoiding a health scare of SARS-like proportions with their innovative and unobtrusive solution. However, I have the sneaking suspicion that commendation is not called for, and that ire—a great gob of boiling, bilious ire—is the only reasonable emotion here. With that in mind…)
Listen up “restaurant,” if that is your real name. It’s one thing to start chuckin’ chunks of lemon in glasses of soda or iced-tea. (I ain’t sayin’ it’s right; I’m just sayin’ it’s “one thing.”) However, when you’re going around the table taking drink orders, and you get to the kid who requests “Just water please,” and you go to the kitchen to fill these orders, what in God’s lime-green earth possesses you to commit this fructiferous foul by default? Do you really think that someone who has eschewed every other drink on the menu in favor of the plainest, purest liquid imbibed by man wants a sodden piece of fruit in it if he didn’t ask for one? Do you??? ANSWER ME!!!
I’m sorry, that was uncalled for.
I’m sorry, that was uncalled for, because the earlier rant was definitely called for. Perhaps you think I’m being overly dramatic here, or that I am intentionally exaggerating the extent of this obnoxious trend for comedic effect. But I assure you that I am not, that I have, in fact, never exaggerated anything for comedic effect and wouldn’t even know how to, even if I tried a billion, trillion, zillion and seventeen times.
So, (very little) joking aside, I challenge all my faithful readers out there (mom) to keep a log of the next five times you go out to eat. Then, when the waiter ask what you’d like to drink, recite the following request verbatim: “Just water if you please guv’nuh.” …Okay, I suppose you don’t have to use that exact phraseology. But if you do, make sure to adopt a cockney accent. In any case, after speaking these immortal words five time in five different restaurants, make a note of how often your “just water” came with a bloody lemon wedge (i.e., a “frigging” or “blasted” lemon wedge, not a lemon wedge covered in vital bodily fluids), and drop me a line. If your H20 doesn’t come with that accursed fruit at least three times out of five, I will literally2 eat your hat. (I’d eat my own hat, but somebody put a fuckin’ lemon in it.)
1. Thesaurus.com suggests “child born out of wedlock” as one possible synonym for “fruit.” Feel free to insert your own joke about what a search on “vegetable” would turn up. I have some; I just don’t feel like sharing.
2. Not literally.