Tag Archives: Drinking

Eric Stories

27 Sep

Eric’s dear mother, God bless her, tried to teach young Eric table manners when he was growing up. He would counter, “Mom, we’re at home. Table manners are stupid!” To which she would reply, “Well, Eric, what if one day you get to have dinner in the White House? You’ll need to know how to act.”

On two recent occasions, Alan and I sat through dinner with Eric, and although we weren’t eating at places as nice as the White House, Eric’s table manners and knowledge of the finer aspects of dining fell short. He should have paid more attention to his dear mother.

Sitting in our hostel in Varanasi, we realized we were nearly a month into our vacation and had yet to have a real night out at a bar. Trekking to Everest Base Camp, although there were bars along the way, didn’t provide many opportunities to go out for a few drinks, and the old city in Varanasi had no bars. But we really wanted to have a proper night out.

Our guide book informed us there were two hotels in Varanasi with bars. We hopped in a tuk-tuk and told our driver to take us to the one we randomly chose, Prinsep Bar.

Prinsep Bar was at a fancy hotel. We were dropped outside the gates of the hotel and were greeted by security guards. Our white skin, however, acted as a security pass, and we were waved right on through the gates.

The bar was a bit fancier than what we were looking for, but it was a bar nonetheless. So, we sat down and ordered drinks and food. Near the end of our first beer, we were informed our food was ready. We just wanted to eat it in the bar in front of the TV showing sports highlights, but we were escorted to the dining room, which was even fancier than the bar.

The meal was fantastic and so was the service. We may not have been dressed for the dining room, (Dane was wearing a bathing suit and Alan was still wearing his hiking shorts) but none of the team of servants made judgments. They catered to our every need, bringing out each course with perfect timing and served it on our plates with a smile.

After we had finished eating, they cleared the table and placed a bowl in front of us. The bowl was not filled with water. I glanced at Alan. He shrugged. I placed my hand over the bowl. Heat rose to meet it. It seemed an odd time to be serving soup at a meal, so it probably wasn’t that. I looked over at Eric. He was in the middle of gulping it down.

One of our servers saw this, and for the first time that night, a server didn’t know exactly what to do. He hesitated, then just decided to come out with it:  “Sir, that’s, umm, for your fingers.”

Alan and I started laughing. Eric, not knowing how to react, put his face in his napkin and starting laughing too.

One mistake at a fine dining establishment is forgivable for anyone. Everyone is capable of mistakes. Eric, however, is like the NFL’s replacement referees. He makes them all the time.

At our only other fine dining experience on this trip, a few days earlier at the end of our trekking experience, the tour organizer took us to a steak restaurant to get our feedback. Dinner went rather smoothly. It was only after we finished that Eric’s manners fell apart again.

Eric had been quiet throughout dinner. For anyone who has met Eric, this is uncommon, the same kind of uncommon as the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series. So, our tour organizer, who was sitting across from Eric, asked him if he was still tired from the trek.

Alan burst in, “He barely got out of bed today.”

Then, Eric burst out, “I haven’t even brushed my teeth!” as his breath carried across the table.

Our tour organizer leaned back with horror in his eyes before bursting out in laughter. We all laughed. What else can you do.

Eric’s rebuttal:

Well, clearly I don’t have much ground to stand on here.  But I will say a few things…

As far as the steakhouse, all I can say is Alan is right, I didn’t get out of bed all day.  I was so happy to have internet, a bed and TV again in Kathmandu that I never felt the need to leave my bed!

In terms of the bar, I have a few excuses.  First of all, since the majority of my meals over the last three years have been at kimbab chungook (essentially a Korean fast food place), I clearly was not prepared to go to such a fancy restaurant. However, the few times that I went out to eat with my co-workers in Korea, we did go to some nice places. Often times when the meal was finished, they would serve some sort of sweet drink as a dessert.  To be completely honest, that’s exactly what I thought was happening his time.  Clearly, I was wrong.  And last but not least, so I can deflect all the blame from myself, I’m going to go ahead and blame my mother for not preparing me for such restaurants!  Sorry mom!!

End rebuttal.

Sorry Mrs. Vanston, your son is never going to be prepared to dine at the White House.

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