"I recently met my girlfriend's parents when they came into town for her college graduation. Everything seemed normal until we decided to dine together, at which point I realized exactly what she meant by 'my dad can be difficult sometimes.' [Editor's Note: Strap in; this story is basically an onion of crazy -- just layers upon layers.]
"We went to a local Mexican restaurant known for its robust cocktail menu. It's a swanky place, not super-fancy, but definitely not a hole in the wall. My girlfriend's dad (we'll call him Richard) didn't seem too pleased with anything on the menu even though it was quite extensive. He finally seemed to select something and put his menu down with ours (we all decided fairly quickly what we wanted). The server came by to take our orders, and they had the following exchange.
"Richard: 'The fish in your fish tacos, is it SUSTAINABLE?'
"Server: 'Um, sir, can you be a bit more specific? Our fish is caught locally, I can get the name of the company we buy it from?'
"Richard: 'But is it SUSTAINABLE?'
"Server: 'Can you be a bit more specific about your concerns? What do you mean by sustainable?'
"Server: 'I can get my manager, if you'd like?'
"Richard: 'No, don't worry about it. I'll have the the steak fajitas. But I want my dessert first. Bring me the ice cream.'
"Server: 'You want the fried ice cream… before your meal?'
"Richard: 'That's what I said.' He was staring at her as though she was being absolutely absurd to even question this request.
"The server scribbled it down and took the rest of our orders as we stared at each other in disbelief. My girlfriend got up to 'use the bathroom,' but actually found the server and apologized on behalf of her dad.
"It got a lot weirder from there.
"We ran out of chips. No big deal: The service had been super-fast the whole night with refilling our drinks and such, so none of us were sweating it.
"He pulled out a flashlight and started flashing the servers in their eyes as they passed our table, blinding a couple of servers as they carried heavy trays past us. His wife attempted to get him to stop, but he insisted he needed to do this to 'get the servers' attention.' Finally, our server came over and refilled our chips and my girlfriend managed to take the flashlight away from him.
"His ice cream came out and he ate it while we all exchanged looks. He retained his ice cream spoon, and once our meals arrived he proceeded to eat his fajitas WITH THE ICE CREAM SPOON. He also kept exclaiming that the 'caramel sauce' the fajitas came in was splendid. It was not caramel sauce -- it was spicy brown fajita juice.
"He decided he needed to speak to the chef. He said he needed to thank the chef for coming to this country and allowing us to experience his fine cuisine. Never mind the fact that Mexican food is super-popular and common in America. Never mind that he didn't know the immigration status, country of origin, nor the race of the chef in question, nor the fact that this perspective is condescending as all hell. We finally convinced him -- somehow -- not to go back and talk to the chef, because 'the restaurant is too busy, please don't bother him, just let him do his job.'
"Then the check came and we were ready to be done with this meal, which had gone on for 90 minutes at that point.
"Then Richard decided he needed to have an appetizer. The server looked puzzled, but put in an order and brought out a new check. We all waited an additional 40 minutes for his appetizer to be prepared, get delivered, and for him to eat it. He ate it excruciatingly slowly in front of us as we made uncomfortable small talk.
"Over two hours of dining with Richard. I felt so bad for my girlfriend and her mother. Both assured me he wasn't always that bad, but usually was fairly rude in restaurants. I cannot imagine what the two of them have witnessed over the years." -- Sarah O’Halloran