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Karen Salkin Out to Lunch

         Restaurant Reviews and Commentary from Karen Salkin
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Restaurant Etiquette




HAPPY 2007!


In this column, and on my TV show, “Karen’s Restaurant Revue,” I often discuss audience behavior. While on a lovely year-end lunch date with Mr. X, which is a rare occurrence and one to be savored, I was made painfully aware that many diners need a refresher course in a similar subject. So, here it is, my hot-off-the-presses guide to Dining Behavior 101.

CREEPY TALKERS
There we were, at the semi-new Enzo and Angela’s in WLA, enjoying a peaceful week-day lunch, when the woman at a near-by table ruined it for us. For those of you who’ve seen Adam Sandler’s cartoon, “Eight Crazy Nights,” she reminded me of the little old woman in that. Except she wasn’t little, I don’t think, and not very old, but had crazy short orange hair, and super-long pointy orange nails. And she spoke with the heavy kind of New York accent that people think is a joke.

None of this would have bothered me, and I wouldn’t have even noticed her, except that she talked very loudly to her dining companion. The volume was bad enough, but the kicker was her subject matter: Dental procedures! In great detail! For the entire time we were there! Trust me, it’s hard to consume even delicious food, when you can’t help but hear every detail of someone’s root canals.

I was dying to ask her to keep it down, but Mr. X would have never gone out with me again. So, I took my food home. I should actually thank her because her conversation (and I use the term loosely; her companion never got to say one word) prevented me from having one of their great-sounding desserts. At the time, I thought I’d never be able to eat again, she nauseated me so.

RUDE CELL PHONE USERS
And what is up with people talking on cell phones during meals? When will they realize how rude that is? I understand cell phones help out in cases of emergencies, but I would venture a guess that 99% of these calls are far from that. How can so many people be so clueless about foisting their conversations on others? And, if the call is indeed an emergency, why can’t they just excuse themselves from the table and answer somewhere in private? It truly boggles the mind.

One time last year, my cell rang while I was at a restaurant with a guy friend. Knowing that the caller needed to hear literally just one word from me, and being lazy, I erroneously broke my own rule and started to answer it. The guy said he was leaving if I did, and got up from the table. Of course, I didn’t answer it, but not because of his threat. That just made me realize that I would be one of the creepy people I can’t stand.

WAITERPERSON ABUSERS
I had one friend from out-of-town who’s so abusive to wait staff that I had to constantly remind the waiters to not deposit their saliva in my food, too. She basically has to dine out alone most of the time because no one wants to deal with the hassle. I asked one of her guy friends, who actually did go out to eat with her often, how he dealt with the situation, and he answered, “Big tips.”

So, please try to notice if you’re being unreasonably difficult or rude, and resolve to treat others as you would have them do unto you. Wanting to get served in a timely manner is fine, and sending bad food back is actually what restaurateurs want you to do, rather than just never returning. But being nasty to anyone, who hasn’t been mean to you, is never acceptable, in any situation. And it just defeats it own purpose, if a great dining experience is what you’re after.

AND LASTLY
And lastly, January means not just the beginning of the New Year, but also the celebration of the beginning of my life, on January 14. I was going to include a list of restaurants that would be appropriate for doing just that, but then I realized how obnoxious that would be. So, instead, I’ll wait till the month is up, and then review the many places I actually went to.

And, I wish very happy birthdays to all my fellow Capricorns. Aren’t we the most fun?!

 
 
Remembrances of Nikki
On Thursday, January 4, my dear friend, Angie Dickinson, lost her precious daughter, Nikki. I’ve known them both for very many years, and have always admired Angie for being the best mother ever. Her every move was designed for Nikki’s happiness.

Though Nikki had Asperger’s Syndrome, which is a high-functioning form of autism, she was more accomplished than most of us. An avid drummer, snorkeler, and traveler, she was supremely knowledgeable about all things geologic, especially earthquakes. And she loved cats almost as much as she loved her mother. I will miss sharing our passion for ice skating, and dancing to the music she made at many a party.

Several years ago, Angie and Nikki were generous enough to invite my family to what turned out to be my favorite Thanksgiving. Nikki told one of the best jokes I’ve ever heard, which of course I’ve been repeating ever since. My father laughed so hard that he turned purple and had to lay his head on the table. I often think of that because I never saw him laugh so hard, and was happy that it was Nikki’s joke that elicited such a response. It was one of the special moments we shared.

When I first saw “Phantom of the Opera” here in LA, it really did nothing for me. Nikki, however, was the show’s biggest fan, and Angie was, as usual, kind enough to make sure that her daughter saw it many times. One night, Nikki asked me to attend it with her, and though I wasn’t a fan of the show, I was a fan of Nikki, so off we went. This time, I saw the show through her eyes and loved it. Her enthusiasm for life just rubbed off on those around her.

One time, at a Champions On Ice after-party, Nikki and I left Angie and ran around by ourselves, gushing over all the skaters. They all lit up when they saw her, with big hugs and “Hi Nikki”s. She was always the most popular one.

I will miss her just-a-tad-blue jokes and the music. But, I really do feel that she’s in a better place, away from the noises of the world that troubled her so. I’m just grateful that she will live on in Angie, and pray that her entire family will find the peace that I feel Nikki now has.
 
1 PIXEL LIGHT GRAY
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