Jewish World Review Oct. 5, 2001 / 18 Tishrei, 5762

Lori Borgman

Lori Borgman
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Consumer Reports

"Taking Care of You" -- WHEN did the people who hand you a restaurant menu, take your order and bring food to your table become caretakers? I just love it when a server arrives at the table, crouches down at eye level and says, "Hi, I'm Brandon and I'll be taking care of you today." This is the most dangerous trend in dining since the return of the high-fat Caesar salad.

Chances are Brandon is 22, has one ear-double pierced and the tips of his hair highlighted orange. When Brandon says he'll be taking care of me today, he has no idea that he is playing with fire. Brandon is clueless that he's talking to a woman who is wrung out from being glued to the television since the terrorist attack. Nor does he have a hint that he's talking to a woman who has been taking care of others for the past twenty years - and quite naturally gets very excited when someone announces they are going to take care of her.

My initial response to Brandon's pronouncement is "Great! Draw me a hot bath, put fresh sheets on my bed, lay out a clean nightie and then hit the road." Obviously, I don't say that because it would be entirely inappropriate.

What I do say is, "Wouldn't you like to know my name? How long do you think this arrangement will last? And by the way, I have a crook in my right shoulder, would you mind?"

It's not right that these servers, er, caretakers, keep getting my hopes up. When I've been shopping and running errands and a server announces he's going to be taking care of me, it takes a lot of self-control not to say, "So, you think the brown sweater is all wrong, too, don't you? Take it back and get a credit on my charge card. Oh, and the canned goods go in the cupboard next to the sink and just leave the trash bags, laundry soap and dish soap on the shelves in the garage."

But no, I don't say any of that. Speaking so candidly would scare a kid like Brandon clear out of the food service industry. Who knows, it might even scare his hair back to its natural color. Instead I just bite my tongue and say, "Can I get the dijon vinaigrette dressing on the side?"

A second, yet equally disturbing, trend in dining is the use of that ever popular phrase, "you guys."

I walk into a restaurant with female friends and the host or hostess says, "How are you guys today? Would you guys like a table or a booth? Can I get you guys something to drink?" The you guys phenomena is even more puzzling than the announcement that a total stranger is going to be taking care of us today.

I look around the table and survey my female friends, henceforth known as "the guys." None of us guys has facial hair. At least not anything noticeable in dim light. None of us guys is now nor ever has been a Sumo wrestler. All of us guys are wearing mascara, blush, lipstick and undergarments that support curves guys do not have. Hey, I don't want to make this an anatomy lesson. No, this is a vocab lesson.

I am not a guy, nor am I one of the guys. Please do not call me a guy. If all the servers out there are really serious about wanting to take care of me, that's probably a good place to start.

JWR contributor Lori Borgman is the author of I Was a Better Mother Before I Had Kids. To comment, please click here.

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© 2001, Lori Borgman