As a server, I'm often mistaken for a therapist, an indentured servant, or a shoulder upon which to cry. However, the job skill most out of my jurisdiction that really turns me sour is that of babysitter.
I've alluded to other experiences in which Mom and/or Dad needed to get sauced, with junior in tow, leaving me in charge of their little cherubs (granted, if I were *really* left in charge of their children, they'd be out on the street holding up a sign, begging for my rent money while *I* got properly tanked).
Yesterday I waited on the stereotype most guilty of dumping their little ones onto someone else: SINGLE MOM.
SINGLE MOM can be identified by the following characteristics:
1) A desperate need for adult conversation with anyone who will/is forced to listen. It's not so much a conversation as it is a monologue, as she shares with you all the pitiful details of bathroom stories, man-hating anecdotes, the trouble with traffic, rants about bitchy soccer moms, "that time of month," etc.
2) A complete disregard for the fact that you're trembling while holding 15 heavy plates, using sounds to indicate that you couldn't care less about "carpool day" stories, and nodding your head to your 12 other tables (all angry) to show that you know they need you.
3) The erroneous assumption that you think her little tyke is as precious as she does. When Junior spills the entire sugar packet all over the table and draws a swastika, SINGLE MOM expects your heart to melt.
In short, SINGLE MOM is a self-pitying shrew whose offspring somehow manages to be even more annoying than she is.
Take for instance Jimmy. Yesterday I waited on Jimmy and his perpetually 25-year-old (read: mid-40's) roadie-wannabe harlot of a mother.
I began the conversation with the usual pleasantries and "Hi how are you"s, to which she responded:
"I'd be a lot better if I were drunk and didn't have to watch this one today."
To say that in front of an infant is tacky, even though the infant can't process the information. To make that statement in front of a five-year-old is reason enough to call Child Services.
"Aw. Yeah. How about an iced tea or Arnold Palmer?" I replied insincerely.
"FUCK that! I want a Patron Silver margarita, double, cadillac, extra shot of Gran Marnier on the side."
Jimmy (whose name I learned during one of mom's many disciplinary tirades) looked at me with an evil glare as he played with his toy truck, anticipating the following question from SINGLE MOM.
"Jimmy, what do you want to drink?"
"I WANT CHOCOLATE MILK!"
"Jimmy, you know they don't have chocolate milk here."
"I WANT CHOCOLATE MILK!!"
"Jimmy, how about a Coke? Or a Cherry Coke?"
"I. WANT. CHOCOLATE. MILK!!!"
I stood by saying a silent prayer that God would be merciful and take me. Right then and there.
"FINE JIMMY...THEN YOU WON'T DRINK AAAAAANYTHING!"
Jimmy looked at me as if this were somehow my victory, his glare seeming to say, "You won this battle, asshole, but watch who wins the war."
I returned with the margarita. I also had 10 glasses of water on my tray for another table. Upon seeing this, little Jimmy exclaimed:
"I WANT A WATER!"
I reached for one of the waters, until he countered my offer.
"I. WANT. A. KID'S CUP!!!!!"
I returned with a kid's cup. I set it down in front of him, his chubby little digits greeting the cup like Satan greets a doomed soul.
"I'LL BET I CAN DRINK THIS WHOLE THING BEFORE YOU LEAVE THE TABLE!"
"I'll bet it will take even less time for me to never refill it," I said.
SINGLE MOM interrupted this exchange with the proclamation that she was ready to order. Granted, I only got to the bottom of that mystery after hearing about her hangover, Jimmy's deadbeat father, and her thoughts on the stimulus ("Do I need to call someone to get my portion? Do they mail me a check?")
She ordered a large plate of melted cheese for lunch. She and Jimmy shared this rare delicacy, which only the most skilled gourmet can perfect with a microwave and a slab of Velveeta.
Jimmy devoured most of the plate as if he were going for the gold in a pie-eating contest. Mom texted, pretending not to notice as Jimmy's crayon drawings strayed from the kid's menu to the table itself.
I was almost free when the little beast indicated that it wanted dessert.
"What do you want Jimmy? The sundae?" Mom asked through the dragon breath of her own inebriation.
"I. WANT. A BROWNIE!!!!"
These words were music to my soul, as our restaurant carries no such dessert.
"Jimmy, you know they don't have brownies here."
He looked at me like I gave a rat's ass, and echoed his primal cry for a brownie.
I felt a slight joyous tingle in my pants as I said, with euphoric disdain, "Your mom's right. We don't have brownies."
And with that, SINGLE MOM and Jimmy left after paying the check. He made sure to crash his toy truck into every hard surface on his way out, with SINGLE MOM grabbing onto those same surfaces in an effort to walk straight.
Last week I waited on a couple of over-protective parents and their eerily quiet, Village of the Damned son and daughter. I was asked to immediately remove all potentially harmful cutlery (i.e. all cutlery) and make sure I placed the children's drinks in plastic cups.
Did I mention that these children were about 13 years old?
Nevertheless, mommy encouraged her son to solve the complex riddles presented by the kid's menu. Junior, just a few years shy of Norman Bates issues, begrudgingly agreed.
I felt for the poor kid. I could tell that dining in public for him mandated the shameful completion of word searches and rudimentary mazes. Should he grow up straight, his children will be ordering off the adult menu before they're able to digest solid foods.
When the food arrived, mommy and daddy cut the children's meals into condescendingly small bites, as if to say "I dare you to eat anything bigger without choking to death." Dad led the clan in a simple, if not drawn-out, pre-meal prayer. Junior looked around and caught my sympathetic glance. He immediately retreated back to the steeple he'd been forced to create out of his innocent hands.
After dinner, Junior and his sister split one kid's meal dessert, a simple scoop of ice cream with a wee bit of whipped cream. Mom paid and left a polite 18% tip.
As they left, Junior gave me one last pitiful look. I wanted to tell him, "Life will get better, I promise you. You can move far away from home one day and order off the adult menu."
But I doubt Junior would have taken much comfort from someone in an apron who complied with his mother's demands of children's menus, no knives and one meager scoop of ice cream for dessert.