Friday, February 19, 2010

Restaurant Rudeness

We went to Town yesterday and shopped and took ourselves out to lunch at a restaurant where we have never been before. Pretty darn funky place. Red tile on the floor, red upholstered stools at an old-fashioned counter like in a diner, lots of chrome, red upholstered booths, and old movie posters and advertisements on the walls, topped off with a large molded plastic Betty Boop figure in a corner.

Within a few feet of the door I heard someone call my name. I stopped by woman I knew from a woman’s group I had met with years ago. She was sitting to the right of a jukebox standing between the booths. Richard sat down on the other side. I sat in the booth and visited with her for a minute.

While we were waiting for our food, I became interested in the jukebox and saw a song I wanted to hear, Seven Bridges Road, by the Eagles. When we were moving here from Oregon by way of California in May 1981, that song began to be played a lot on the  radio as we headed East, especially as I drove across the top of Texas and into Oklahoma, and finally into Missouri. I was frankly blown away by how beautiful Oklahoma was. The images of the green rolling countryside combined with the gorgeous harmony of the song and the other emotions I was feeling as every mile passed brought me closer to the beginning of a new chapter in our lives. Well. I wanted to hear the song again.

The jukebox required $1 in quarters – four-song minimum – and I didn’t want to put in $1.00, so the guy who was cooking the food said, “I’ll play the song for you.” And in a minute or two he went over to the jukebox and fed it four quarters and punched in the music.

In the meantime, an old woman had breezed in, apologizing for being late because she had car trouble as she hurried to the back of the restaurant where there was a makeshift stage with an amplifier, microphones, stools, and a piano, and started bustling around with microphones and doing thing to the piano. The Eagles had not gotten much farther into the song than “...southward as you go...” when suddenly she was at the jukebox, had reached behind it and turned off the music and made her way back to the piano.

I turned around to look at the owner of the restaurant when she did this, and he said, “Sorry about that,” and the woman I had been visiting with said, “Well, at least you got to hear a few bars of the song....”

She started playing some ragtime music, and she was pretty good. But then she began to sing in a ruined soprano voice, “He’s in the Jailhouse Now.” Awful. Then she said “Sorry I had to turn off the jukebox...

In the movie, this would be the point where the hero or heroine looks at the camera and says, “Had?” She didn’t HAVE to turn off the jukebox! She could have waited the 3 minutes or so it would have taken to let the song finish before she started playing

...and this next song is dedicated to the couple by the jukebox,” which was us. She launched into an old-time song I had never heard before. Richard said he couldn’t understand what she was singing. Fortunately, I was done with my food so we did not have to listen one second more. We got the heck out of there.

I almost wrote a note about her turning off the jukebox in place of a tip in her tip jar, but I realized I didn’t have any right to be angry, because it was not my money that had been fed into the machine. And now that I have had some time to sleep on it, I am very glad that I did not. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

I wonder how the younger set would react in a similar situation if in another 15 years or so I was the live entertainment in a restaurant and began playing songs by Crosby Stills Nash and Young, and Peter Paul and Mary, John Denver, Joni Mitchell, the Rolling Stones, and The Who, singing in my ruined alto voice.  

When we got back home, I went on over to You-Tube and listened to it there. And you can too if this embedded video doesn’t work on your browser.


Oklahoma Granny said...

Just chalk it up to some older woman's eccentricities. The restaurant sounds like one I'd like to go to. How was the food?

Leilani Lee said...

Greasy spoon!!! -- I had a chili hamburger and it was good; he had onion rings and they were HOT right out of the fat, and crispy. Nothing quite like a freshly made onion ring.