Who ever talked me into going to this crazy restaurant?
I guess my friend Tyler, Fred's "son," did. It's a few blocks from where he works, so good for having dinner while waiting out rush-hour traffic.
But Tyler is an expert in the culinary arts. Surely he could drive a few miles to a more...um...modern place, rather than Charlie's Bar and Grille.
Decor from the fifties.
Clientele consisting entirely of heterosexual couples in their 90s.
Grotesquely outdated music playing in the background, syrupy-slow versions of the most depressing songs possible.
"If You Could Read My Mind"
And my personal non-favorite, "Times of Your Life":
You wake up and time has slipped away
And suddenly it's hard to find
The memories you left behind
Remember, do you remember, the times of your life?
Just what I need -- a reminder that time is slipping away, and most of my life is over, in a horrible retro restaurant a few days before New Year's Eve.
What the heck is a chop?
I order the Turf and Surf, sirloin steak with a stuffed lobster tail, which my Encyclopedia of Bad Taste calls "a paeon to 1950s excess" and a "middlebrow status symbol of our parents' generation."
Shouldn't it come with a martini and a slice of banana cream pie?
The waitress, the only person under 90 in the restaurant, is intrusive, overly aggressive, telling us in detail where every menu item is located, as if we have never seen a restaurant menu before, and coming back twice to ask "How's everything tasting?"
I hate the "How's everything?" question. It always comes at the exact moment when your mouth is full or you're discussing something embarrassing. But I hate the "How's everything tasting?" question even more. I order food for its nutritional value and visual appeal. Who cares about the taste?
And to make matters worse, a second person, a maitre-d or wine steward or something, comes up and asks "How's everything tasting?" a third time!
I'm not answering this time. Let Tyler do it.
"It's great," he says.
But he's not going to let me off the hook. He wraps his arm around my shoulders and asks "How about you?"
Shocked, I shrug him off. He retreats.
"What was that all about?" Tyler asks.
"No idea. In gay neighborhoods, the waiters cruise you -- flirt with you --- to get a bigger tip."
"But this is Indianapolis, not West Hollywood. And how would he know you're gay? He probably thinks that we're father and son."
"Maybe he picked up a vibe."
"But he's not even our waiter, so he won't be getting a tip."
"There are other reasons to flirt with people..."
"No way!" he exclaims.
Suddenly the maitre d' or wine steward or whatever is back. This time I get a better look: in his twenties, medium height, on the thin side, with a round face, heavy eyebrows, and short brown hair. White shirt, black pants, apron, so I can't see a bulge. Sort of cute, in a cornfed Midwestern way.
"Hi, I didn't get your names." He holds out his hand to be shaken. "I'm Mike."
What wine steward or maitre d' or something asks for your names? This guy is definitely cruising!
"I'm Tyler, and this is my friend Boomer, from West Hollywood, California."
"Sure. I car-pool with Cary Grant. Humphrey Bogart's kid mows my lawn. Last week I went out to dinner with Tyrone Power."
"Funny!" He pauses. "I'm a big fan of old movies."
"Working here, you'd have to be."
He touches my shoulder. "Rear Window is playing at the Royal. If you guys have time this evening, you should check it out. I'm going after work."
"Definitely cruising -- trying to pick me up," I tell Tyler. "Not even being subtle about it."
"Don't be ridiculous!" he protests. "This isn't a gay bar!"
I shrug. "Seems weird to me, too, but can you think of another explanation?"
"That's an awfully touchy-feely friendliness."
"Ok, then, if you think he's flirting, ask him out. I'd love to see the look on your face when he runs away in a panic."
What if he is just being friendly? Asking out a random waiter in a straight-world restaurant could be very embarrassing. Especially in this weird retro 1950s restaurant. "That won't be necessary. I like to meet my men the old fashioned way. On a dating app on my smartphone."
Our real waitress arrives to clear our dishes and ask if we'd like to order dessert. We refuse, so she goes to get our check.
Suddenly Mike returns with plates of apple pie a la mode. "On the house," he says, "Because you had to wait so long."
"We didn't have a long wait, but thanks..." Tyler says.
"Hey...um...about Rear Window...the theater is kind of hard to find, so I thought if you could wait until 7:00, when I get off work, you could follow me over."
"We're busy tonight," I tell him. "But I'm free tomorrow."
"Great! Meet me here at 7:00. We can go to the movie, and then get drinks or whatever." He touches my shoulder again, and rushes off.
Tyler stares. "Does this sort of thing happen to you often?"
"That would be telling."
Actually, it's only happened 3 or 4 times in my life.
In case you were wondering: smooth chest, two tattoos, average size, uncut. Oral bottom. Pushed me down on the bed to get into the interfemoral position, but spurted before he could insert anything into anything.
See also: I Spend the Night with Fred's Son; Hookup with the Waiter at a Fundamentalist Restaurant; and Cooking and Cruising.