On How to Be the Host with the Most and a Guest Who's the Best
Illustration by Stefan Knecht
ISSUE No 3
I’M A GOOD AND LOYAL CUSTOMER, A REGULAR PATRON AND A GRATEFUL GUEST.
When I love a restaurant or a hotel I treat it like it was my own—a wonderful club I belong to. This is my kind of joint! So I cherish the people who make it great. (Hi Ian!) I like the people at the door to know my name and to know that I will do nothing to diminish the excellence of the establishment: I’m on my best behavior.
My host is my protector. Therefore, I love hosts who are militant about their high standards, taking appropriate and even difficult measures, such as “Sorry, we are completely booked…yes all these tables are reserved.” The people who enforce high standards are heroes.
Hopefully we are ladies and gents, but we are also animals who need to feel secure when feeding, or sleeping, or otherwise engaging in the boudoir. Snapping at a threat is a natural instinct.
My greatest fear is completely losing it at a restaurant or hotel that I love. I’d hate to seize a stranger’s phone and hurl it into the swimming pool. It’s not just the bullhorn loudness of cellular converse, it’s also the fear of a room full of cameras, many seemingly pointed this way. I don’t want my portrait done by strangers. Don’t want to be background in a selfie. I might have spinach in my teeth or be whispering in the ear of a young lady apparently lecherously when I’m simply being avuncular. I don’t want to appear to be having an attack of Tourette’s syndrome when I am just defending my turf.
To that end, I like my leisure stomping grounds to be decorous. I don’t like foreplay in the next booth, however, a well-placed loud phrase, aimed nowhere in particular—
“Get a room! Somewhere else!”—may suffice.
The people who enforce high standards are heroes.
More problematic is an adjoining loud ladies’ night, perhaps celebrating a hard-earned promotion or well- deserved divorce and taking it out on the wine list. I’m with you, but softly. I’d never pick up a fork in anger, but provoked I might strike up a conversation with rowdies, even elegant ladies, perhaps by visiting the table and proving that I know far too much about them involuntarily, and in only an hour! A well-placed aside might help remind them they aren’t alone: “He doesn’t deserve you!”
But really I bring up the texting situation because I don’t think young people like to talk. Which is why more and more restaurants are playing music at near rave levels. Upping the music covers for those who are conversationally averse, which is epidemic.
Recently this speechlessness has spread to elders trying to be youthful, and flagrant texting is only slightly less annoying than cell phone hog calling. I do fear that someday I will confiscate another restaurant guest’s phone (perhaps even someone at my own table) and drop it into the lobster tank. I’m not afraid of the law, I worry for the lobster!
That’s why I’m a regular. Some hosts just get it. They maintain decorum almost magically, quietly enforcing an unwritten code by setting a mood, finding a middle way that accommodates the fashionista hipster and the hepcat fogey like me. I honor them with my custom. They get it! They enable great pleasures and they keep me out of the slammer, all at the same time.
In the know:
HANGOVER CUREBacon, Egg, and Cheese
THE OFFICIAL TOURIST DISHHot Dog
DON'T MISSSneaking into the penthouse for one of the city’s best views at New York EDITION.