Most people can walk into a restaurant and act somewhat normal. The greeter greets, the waiter waits and no one otherwise bats an eyelash. It only takes regular blood pressure, a regular pulse rate and regular body temperature. Once seated and the menus are taken up, the friendly server kindly requests drink orders.
Lunching with the Fussbudgets, however, is a different matter. That would be Mrs Fussbudget and Ms. Fussbudget, the surname being all one word (I looked it up). Both Fussbudgets come from the same family; mother and daughter, one with cane, one without.
So at the seating stage, the booth was rejected straight off because Mrs. Fussbudget with the cane couldn’t see over the top of the table. She complained to the waitress that she had shrunk six inches of her height since turning 90-years-old. A complete life story about everyone that had passed before her and funeral arrangements that followed as the patient waitress led us to a table.
Determined that the table measured up to specifications, we proceeded. Ms. Fussbudget without the cane didn’t like the location of the table because it was too near the main thoroughfare and she might be caught eating too much dessert for public viewing. Then the next table had an air vent pointing straight at Ms. Fussbudget. Her nose wrinkled as she held private auditions for the most acceptable table.
Ah, a designer table at last that agrees with the Fussbudgets. By that time, the clock had whizzed ahead from lunch prices to dinner fare. But before that, Mrs. Fussbudget with the cane said that her chair was wobbly. So there was an exchange of chairs, disrupting every table around us.
When I looked up from my menu, all the furniture in the restaurant was rearranged, not to mention the on-call heating and cooling crew to reroute the vents. The waitress had a haggard look on her face by this time and looked my way wondering if I were part of this conspiracy to ruin her entire shift.
But not before Mrs. Fussbudget with the cane confessed that her menu-reading glasses were in her purse that had been carefully stacked with sweaters on that wobbly chair. She didn’t tell her life story about funerals this time, just requested from Ms. Fussbudget without the cane to retrieve her glasses. She felt great guilt at this point, however, because her shoulders sank and she worried that we might consider her a regular fussbudget, not to be confused with the aforementioned surname.
The purses and sweaters were un-stacked, restacked, menu glasses in place, and a haggard look on the face of the waitress.
I had seen that haggard look before. A while ago, I had lunch at a rather formal restaurant – or at least not a greasy spoon; a pet peeve of my ex-husband who refers to anything that serves on yellow Formica tabletops with watered down ketchup unacceptable. In this classier tabletop and thick-ketchuped restaurant, I was lunching with a British-born acquaintance. The moment that the waiter served up our coffee, she requested in her politely accented manner, “…may I hahve a thinnah cup, pleahse?” He turned my way with crossed eyes and a frozen face with, “where did you find this goofball?” Her name wasn’t Fussbudget, however, but just a regular English person who was used to drinking from bone china and enjoying a better taste along the way. To her credit, she didn’t care about wobbly chairs, air vents or public dessert viewings.
Lunch with the Fussbudgets went otherwise smoothly until Mrs. Fussbudget with the cane finally noticed that prices had turned into dinner fare. That meant the price of her salad — no lettuce, no peppers, no colors because of her life story complete with indigestion and funeral arrangements — had risen along with desserts for Ms. Fussbudget without the cane. No matter, our waitress had long since turned in her pen and pad for another job. She didn’t even wait to see how big our tip would be.