Drink Order

by Andrew Hicks

Imagine yourself as a longtime restaurant server, and picture the following scenario: You walk up to a table. A man is sitting alone with one menu in front of him and one across from him. You approach him and toss off a casual, “Hello, how are you?” He shoots back, “I’m waiting for my wife!” You have to imagine this guy’s gruff response as a moderately toned-down version of Harrison Ford’s line in The Fugitive, where he’s in the giant sewer pipe waterfall and he barks to Tommy Lee Jones, “I didn’t kill my wife!” That’s the basic delivery.

Okay, yes, I see you’re waiting for your wife, you think. You say, “Well, is there something you’d like me to bring you to drink in the meantime?” Now the Man With Two Menus is more insistent in his reponse, more like Tommy Lee Jones in the same Fugitive scene, where Tommy yells out, “I don’t care!” The MWTM looks at you like you’re crazy and offers a clipped, “I’ll wait for my wife.” At that point, you excuse yourself from the table for a lengthy minute.

Now, let’s review. This man won’t order a thing to you without his wife present. Having been married for some time myself, it’s true – I like to involve my wife in all kinds of personal decisions, some trivial, some major. The issue of what to order to drink in a restaurant is something I feel personally confident to handle all on my own though. No hand holding or consultation is in any way necessary.

And, seriously, when you want a couple minutes to look at the beverage menu or do the math on whether you can drink enough Coke in an hour to make it worth three bucks, just tell your server, “I’d just like a water for now.” You can always add pay fluids later, and it makes the waiter feel like he’s doing his job.

On the other hand, consider this frequent Choose Your Own Adventure alteration of the exact same scenario: Let’s say you just got sat with two customers, and only one is sitting at the table. You approach, and you ask the lady what kind of liquid she’d like to have keep her company while she’s waiting for her companion. She says, without hesitation, “I’ll have an ice tea, no lemon, lots of ice, three Splenda packets and…” At this point, the blue-haired beauty goes completely blank. “…I don’t know what my husband will have.”

45 years of wedded bliss, and she has absolutely no idea what her husband wants to drink. I’ve been married three-plus years. Several weeks in, I knew that, if we were sober, my wife wanted a Coke. If we were drunk, she wanted a Coke, a water, a milk and a coffee. If it was after 5 a.m. you’d better make it a decaf. Just that simple. By the time we’ve been married 45 years, I’ll be able to tell you her resting heart rate, systolic and diastolic blood pressure and T-cell count at any given time. This poor old lady should just order her husband a water.

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