Tuesday, February 15, 2011

St Valentines Day, A meal? a melee ? amore ?

I was inspired to today's posting by a twitter conversation with the lovely Juliette Foster, (check out her blog here) as I prepared to venture out with the fragrant Mrs Stuffy on the eve of St Valentines day.

We exchanged 140 character views on the amusement value of relationship tolerances stretched to industrial level by the commercial cheek-by-jowl table arrangements, heart shaped desserts, confections, table decorations, menus etc. but most critically by the pressure to be seen to be doing the Valentines thing, from the media, the greetings card and floral industries, spousal expectation and of course peer pressure. If everyone else in the restaurant is gazing lovingly into each others eyes and mumbling sweet nothings it probably feels very uncomfortable bottling up the anger generated by discovering yet another pair of expensive new shoes hidden in the wardrobe and dismissed as "those old things, had 'em for ages". (to choose a non-specific, arbitrary, nothing to do with Mrs Stuffy at all, example at random).

We, her well-shod ladyship and I, have observed some tremendous Valentines day events, I fondly recall a superb demonstration of almost sub-audible invective, a lovely young couple in a Thai restaurant having a blazing row, in a hushed whisper, conducted at a table situated so adjacent that I could see the foam-flecked drops of spittle and bile flying from the lady's lips hitting the aromatic herbs adorning my Gai Pad Khiaowan.

The argument ended when the gentleman popped to the loo and his lovely lady paid the bill and drove off, his expression as he returned from his ablutions still brings a cruel but welcome smile to my grizzled old visage as I pen these words.

I think paying the bill was a nice touch.

Closer to home I recall a phone call from a chum one 14th of Feb along the lines of " got any plans tonight Stuffy?"
"Well yes old buddy", I replied "what with it being Valentines day and all that I'm dining a deux with my lovely lady,"
"I don't suppose" he asked, with the wheedling whine of a man in desperate straits, "that you'd fancy making that a double header, I forgot to book anywhere and I'm in so much trouble".

Dear reader, what would you do, what could I do? With gritted teeth I rang the restaurant, exercised all my charm and expanded the table. My amnesiac chum had, as recompense, arranged for a car and driver but my lady and I were disconcerted as we drifted meal-wards by the stony silence between our dining companions, if only that had continued, the food was fine, the wine flowed like, well, really fast-flowing wine and the painful and (it subsequently turned out) irreconcilable differences between their respective views of the world, and each other, were laid out for dissection, critique and dismissal, all at a volume that would barely disturb a dormant dormouse but, alas, was well audible to us, their unfortunate hosts, we couldn't even make our excuses and leave, as the driver and car were on a schedule.

I guess that, as the Valentines day formula, once described by a chef pal as "set menus, no appreciation of the food, cram 'em in, no buzz, no atmosphere and stingy tipping" continues we should be glad of those fellow diners who've made the experience memorable over the years. Perhaps our own relationship is strengthened by the occasional dose of Schadenfreude?

On a positive note, and as a thank you for this years Valentine experience I should heap praise upon the estimable Gerry and Ann Price and the team at "the Inn@West End" Her ladyship and I enjoyed fine food and (for herself, wine, I'm a non drinker through Feb) the packed restaurant of adoring couples seemed to be capable of making it through three courses without trauma or traducing and a fine time was had by all, still, never mind, maybe next year...


At 1:49 pm, Blogger Dave said...

Cooked a meal at home (at the behest of the current Mrs. DBo.). Which was well received. Service was impeccable too and no one ushering us out saying 'We've got another seating at 8:30'.


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