"I was a sheltered suburban kid from Chicago and had just finished high school back in the early '90s. I graduated from a boarding school in New Hampshire, which meant all of us were traveling home through Boston. To celebrate, my father took our entire group to a very famous seafood restaurant. It was on a pier. It’s been 25 years and it remains home to the worst meal of my life.
"I wasn't an adventurous eater at 17, but since pizza and burgers are not what people have to celebrate life's big milestones, I put on a jacket and tie and my winningest smile. We arrived for our reservation, got seated at a nice table with plenty of room for everyone, and placed our orders. I requested a medium New York strip -- the go-to choice for patrons who retch at the smell of fish.
"Our server took our orders and promptly returned with our drinks. When he set my drink down, I was assaulted with a terrible smell. Our server had body odor. It wasn't mild, like he was just having a long day -- it was weaponized. It was as if he hadn't showered or washed his uniform in weeks. Every time he lifted his arms, a cloud would descend over the table. I could watch each of my family members react one at a time as the noxious cloud wafted under each nose.
"The food arrived with the same fanfare as the drinks, spoiling appetites and turning all conversations toward 'How does someone even GET to smell like that?' I honestly can't remember if anyone else enjoyed their meal, because I'm still in shock about what happened next.
"I cut into my steak and it was cooked through. Well-done, brown throughout. I didn't know much about steak, but I knew that medium meant 'pink in the middle,' and this was not a thin cut of meat. I reluctantly called the waiter over to point this out, mentally preparing myself for another gassing. He leaned over, put his arm around my chair so my face was an inch from his armpit, lifted the steak with my fork, studied it for a few seconds, then looked me in the eye a few inches from mine and with a breeze of plaque and halitosis declared, 'It's medium' and walked away.
"I was incredulous that my father didn't do anything about it at the time, but he was laser-focused getting through the evening without an incident, no matter how much the restaurant worked to thwart him. Since there were eight of us and we were paying tourist-trap prices, our server still got a decent tip. I just wish we could have left $100 worth of Right Guard." -- Jake DeWise