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LIFESTYLE 180 Blog: Standing up to your waiter

You gotta love kids. Every time I go out to dinner with my boyfriend’s eight year old daughter, I secretly wait for her order. It’s not so much *what* she orders that intrigues me, since at eight, spaghetti, corn dogs, and macaroni and cheese are about as sophisticated as she gets, but it’s *how* she orders that has me biting my lip to keep from falling on the floor laughing.

The beauty of being eight, is that you are still free from the restraints of social expectations. If I want to feel good about myself I ask my boyfriend how I look in a new outfit. He knows his job is to tell me I look awesome. But if I really want to know the truth, I ask the kid. Kids have not yet acquired the sophisticated skill of lying to make someone else feel good. They simply call it as they see it. They state embarrassing facts, ask inappropriate questions, and don’t feel even the slightest bit uncomfortable doing it. It’s either an inspiration or your worst nightmare, and you never know which.

If I have a pimple that I have failed to hide with makeup, leave it to a kid to walk straight up to me and ask, “Why do you have that big red dot on your face?” Likewise, I have been told on various occasions things like, “Your breath smells bad. You should brush your teeth.” “That shirt looks terrible.” “You farted didn’t you?” Or my personal favorite, “Are those pills (referring to vitamins) for losing weight? Because if they are, they’re not working.” What can I say. She’s was right. They weren’t working.

Going out to dinner is no exception, she confidently looks the waiter in the eye and with the sort of practiced sophistication she can have only learned from television, tells him just what she wants. A cheeseburger – but could he make sure there are no tomatoes on it, because she hates tomatoes. And she’ll have onion rings instead of french fries, or – no wait, do they have mozzarella sticks, and could they bring some extra sauce, so she doesn’t have to share with her sister? It’s so hilarious I can hardly stand myself.

Unfortunately, I am far less imposing. My inner demanding diner has long since been shellacked with several coatings of politeness. I order without substitutions, I never complain even when I hate the food, and I don’t think I have ever sent anything back – except maybe a glass of wine that had gone so far off it was undrinkable, and even then I apologized profusely for the fuss.

So what to do in a restaurant now, when almost every item contains something I do not want to eat? If the sandwich I want comes on a croissant, I need to ask if they can put it on whole wheat. I have to ask for brown rice and whole wheat pasta. I want to know what sort of mayonnaise they use. If they fry in butter, could they use olive oil instead – or could they use less oil altogether in my dish. Can I have my vegetables steamed instead of sautéed? Can I have a side of spinach instead of the pasta? I am now every waiter’s worst nightmare. Nutritionist Kristen Kirkpatrick attempted to bolster our dining-out confidence by pointing out that we should feel free to mix and match items on the menu that aren’t paired together. “Anything they have in the kitchen is fair game – you should think of those combinations as suggestions, I mean if they have whole wheat bread back there, or broccoli, then they can make it for you,” she argues. Apparently all you have to do is ask.

Now if you need a little more confidence, or at least a good laugh, check out this youtube clip from the movie Five Easy Pieces, where a very young Jack Nicholson tries to order some whole wheat toast. My only suggestion here is to try not and upset your server as much as he does.