Sending back the plate


One is always wary of sending one’s plate back to the kichen in a restaurant. One does not know which of the waiter’s bodily fluids might be on said plate upon its return.

The first time Partner and I went out for dinner, in 1995, we went to a nice restaurant in downtown Providence. I ordered fish. When it arrived at the table, it was burnt on one side and frozen on the other. I wanted to make a good impression on Partner, so I pretended it was fine, and I ate it.  It was horrible, but I lived through it, and it was the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

In Tunis in the mid-1980s, I used to go to a hole-in-the-wall restaurant on the Rue de la Casbah which was incredibly cheap and (usually) pretty reliable. One evening I was reading the paper and having my usual kamounia when I realized there were little black objects in the sauce. I poked at them with my fork, and isolated them on the side of the plate, and yes, children, they were weevils.

I separated them from the sauce, and put them on the side of the plate, and kept eating.  I was awfully tough-minded in those days.

On the lighter side:

My friend Gio was a terrible hypochondriac – the type who, upon hearing of a medical condition, immediately diagnoses himself with it. He’d decided at some point that he was allergic to corn. Now, you and I know that there is corn in everything. Presumably, so did Gio. But it gave him a chance to interrogate every waiter in Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts on the ingredients in everything he ordered.

While I squirmed.

One day, in Gregg’s on North Main (a Rhode Island institution!), he piped up with, “Hey, they have corn chowder!”

I was surprised. “I thought you were allergic to corn,” I said.

“I am,” he said. “But I love corn chowder.”

I am very perverse sometimes. “I’m sure the corn chowder doesn’t have any corn in it,” I said. “It’s just a name.”

“Are you sure?” he said doubtfully.

“Absolutely,” I said.

And I sat and watched him swill down a bowl of corn chowder. I was very pleased with myself. And, just so you know that I am not a murderer, he had absolutely no allergic reaction at all.

If there is a Last Judgement, I will be called to account for this.

But I will say smoothly to Our Lord: “It was worth it, just for the satisfaction of knowing I was right.  Also, for the laughs.”

About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to

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