Among my many wonderful attributes you'll find "insensitive to hypochondriacs."
Your typical enabler might cater to poor Aunt Glenda and her feigned need for back surgery. I, however, have found that the less attention a hypochondriac receives, the better. Conversations stay upbeat and void of topics such as allergies, sinuses and prescriptions (though if that prescription is for Xanax or Percocet you may chat my ear off).
Back to poor Aunt Glenda. She and her family recently gloomed their way into my section, along with a cane, a walker, a pad for sitting, and a fuchsia-colored kitty cat sweater that could only have been created at a home school for blind Amish children.
After 10 minutes of setting up the restaurant booth to look like an ambulance for morbidly obese Aunt Glenda, her hefty hillbilly niece wriggled her arm in the air like a butcher showing off his cuts. This, apparently, meant that my services were required.
"I hope everyone is doing well today," I stated rather than inquired.
"Uuuuuugggh," whimpered Aunt Glenda. "Are all your booths this hard?"
"I'm not sure," I replied. "I often stand when I'm on the clock. May I bring you anything to drink?"
Present in this party were Aunt Glenda, her niece, and two stocky acne-stricken teenage boys clad in overalls. XXL overalls. Everyone ordered a Coke, and Auntie G requested a few packets of sugar on the side.
When I delivered the drinks, Aunt Glenda appeared as if she were passing a kidney stone.
"Oh, that cold air from the ceiling fan is just killing my back."
Funny. Those extra 250 pounds seem more culpable.
I ignored her gripe and set down the drinks. The teenage boys, aka the oxen twins, played my favorite game, "Let's Drink the Entire Glass Before the Waiter Walks Away."
"Are Coke refills free?" twin 1 inquired.
"No, sorry," I replied. "Everyone ready to order?"
The oxen twins each ordered the large steak nachos (approx. 1,200 calories each). Hillbilly niece requested the melted cheese with rotisserie chicken (approx. 1,000 calories). Aunt Glenda showed the most restraint, carefully and slowly ordering the fried fish tacos (approx. 800 calories).
"And please make sure the fish is deep fried," she grimaced. "I once had fish tacos that weren't fried well enough and I had a horrible stomach bug that kept me in the bathroom for weeks, and wouldn't you know..."
I gave her my "I'm so glad I'm not you" smile and walked away from the table.
The food arrived rather quickly, but not before Aunt Glenda requested the heat up, the music volume down, the silverware replaced, the salt bottle refilled, and the sugar packets replenished.
"Oh, and do you have any Tylenol?" she asked.
"If only." I replied.
Five minutes after the grotesque feast commenced, I was summoned once again by the niece's fleshy wave in the air.
"Mmmmmmm?" I said, looking at the table out of one eye as if protecting myself from a grisly scene in Hostel.
"UHHHHH," the niece began without regard for the cheese grease dribbling down her chins. I couldn't tell if she was leading into a sentence or just belching. "These fish tacos made my aunt ill. Real sick like."
Real sick like? Oh Heavens, I'd better run to town and fetch Doc Baker.
"I see," I replied. I looked down to see that Aunt Glenda had consumed her entire meal -- beans and rice included -- in fewer than five minutes.
"I must ask," I continued, "why she finished the entire meal if it didn't agree with her?"
"Dunno," the niece replied. Aunt Glenda just sat there, feigning near-fainting.
"All's I know is that we gotta getter outta here. I thank she's gunna get vominous."
"Sure, I'll be right back with the bill."
"UHHHHHHH," the niece exclaimed again. "If the food's may'd her seeck, I don't thank there should be a bill should there?"
"Well," I began, trying to excise as much condescension as I could from my tone. "Her plate is empty. Your plate is empty. The twins are still eating at their plates even though the food is gone. No one sent back any of their meals. The owner won't comp your meal if every morsel was gone."
"UHHHHHHH," the hillbilly pondered as we all sat/stood there for a few minutes to see who could be the slowest to action.
I broke the ice. "So, yeah, that'll be $39.84."
"This just figures..." Aunt Glenda began while the hillbilly niece examined the contents of her hobo bindle for loose change. "Every time I think it'll be safe to eat out it aaaaaaalways gets me. Restaurants just aren't caring anymore about the food preparation. It's kinda like that time I ate that skirt steak in Anaheim. I'd just had knee surgery and for some reason they used a really bad cut of meat that..."
I couldn't help but feel the sting of guilt in this testimony. Had I known that I'd been participating in this vicious plot to keep Aunt Glenda sick and overweight, I'd have changed my ways a long time ago. I'd have modified my diet, exercised regularly, and kept my back and knee free from carrying around deadly excess fat. Yep. That's what I could have done so poor Aunt Glenda wouldn't have to keep suffering at the hands of so many others, least of all herself.