A comedy of errors regarding a Valentine's Day dinner evoked strong feelings of the sitcom staple of the plans of a couple going comically awry on that special day. The consensus during a dinner at a restaurant that can I consider The Ninth Level of Hell's Dining Room and that many people apparently love was that it most closely related what was recalled as Joe and Helen of the "Cheers" companion series "Wings" experiencing Hell every Valentine's Day.
The consensus regarding the setting of our meal of extreme discontent was that it was the restaurant version of "The Golden Palace," which was the titular Miami hotel that The Golden Girls (sans Dorothy) owned and operated after their original series ended, We also determined that Queen of Ill-Conceived Promotions Linda Belcher of "Bob's Burgers" would have tried something akin to the failed concept that lead to adding insult to injury.
Also in sitcom style, our narrative is shifting from the present of the primary "sit" that provided the "com" to the genesis of those unfortunate circumstances.
Back in July, your not-so-humble reviewer planned a "thaw-out" trip to Sarasota, Florida. This revolved around staying at the absolutely fabulous Hotel Indigo in that city. We subsequently learned more about the exceptional H20 bistro in the hotel.
On booking the vacation, we discussed where to celebrate Valentine's Day. The then top-rated restaurant Antoine's seemed pricey. Then number-two (currently number one) restaurant Dolce Italia was mid-priced and seemed very good. I asked my highly significant other (HSO) to book the reservation on Open Table.
I mentioned the dinner several times in the interval between July and February and ALWAYS referred to the restaurant as Dolce Italia. My HSO always responded that the correct name was La Dolce Vita. Knowing that I was correct but determining that that error was harmless, I always dropped the matter. On the other hand, I constantly confuse the Mexican chains On the Border and Border Cafe; I cannot remember which one I prefer.
We arrived in Sarasota on February 13, and the contradictions regarding the restaurant name continued. Having the privilege and the pleasure to speak with H20 Executive Chef Sol Shenker for an article on that eatery added more "com" to the mix in the form of Shenker repeatedly inviting us to have Valentine's Day dinner at his restaurant.
I advocated for eating at H20, but my HSO reasonably wanted to honor our commitment to the other restaurant. Shenker shared that he knew the chef at DOLCE ITALIA and that the food there was very good.
My HSO and I riding past Dolce Italia prompted me to say "there it is" only to be told that we were looking for La Dolce Vita,
The following stage of the narrative requires disclaimers. First, I do not blame La Dolce Vita for any events up to this point. Second, I do not have a horse in the race, and there are plenty of customers to go around. I simply consider the entire experience adequately amusing and sitcomy to warrant a post. Part of this humor relates to the La Dolce Vita owner taking arguably undue umbrage regarding negative online reviews to which even the finest restaurants and hotels are subject,
Now back to our story.
On arriving at La Dolce Vita, we were puzzled on sitting down and finding the menu in the below photo on the table. We wondered if we chose one of the two items in each category or got both and if the $59 price was per couple or per person. We also wondered if there was a standard menu that offered mutually desired ala carte options.
Neither the website nor the woman who called to confirm the reservation mentioned anything about a special Valentine's menu.
One issue was that I dislike any food that has lived in the water, and the menu was heavily slanted toward seafood. Additionally, my prior friendship with the three sheep on the farm of human friends had prompted me to stop eating lamb; one of the entrees was lamb chops.
We considered leaving but decided to stay and hope for the best.
A language barrier was a factor regarding our waiter not understanding our questions regarding the dining options. The prosciutto and mozzarella arriving merely by virtue of our sitting at the table contributed to the confusion.
I asked the waitress who cleared our plates after that course if we could order off a menu. Her response of "no menu; you eat it all" has been a source of humor for myself and my HSO ever since.
I did not eat most of the dishes, and the wait staff seemed oblivious to all those courses going back uneaten.
The real "com" kicked in on the restaurant owner coming to our table in the middle of the meal. My outward appearance reflected my being distraught,
My HSO and I repeatedly told the owner that I was alright, but she deserves credit for stating that she wanted to know what was wrong. She earns less credit for insisting that she wanted me to 'fess up to her face rather than write something nasty online. That turned out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy,
Her response to our calmly and politely stating that we had no basis for believing that we would not have choices regarding whats was served was that it was not her fault. We also explained that I did not like most of the served items. "Had we known," we simply would have eaten someplace else that night.
The owner asking me what I liked created an expectation that she would send over the requested spinach and ricotta pasta and/or the also-asked-for plate of fettuccine without the shrimp and anchovies that came with it. That reasonable response would have made me happy.
Instead, it was as if we had never spoken to the owner. The disliked items kept coming. The only other time that we saw the owner was when she cleared items off the table without even making eye contact.
I subsequently wrote a negative Trip Advisor review, which apparently is a trigger for the owner. The first copied-and-pasted reply by her is in response to my post, which mirrors this article. Although she asserts that we did not pay our bill, we have the $169 receipt that proves that we did not dine and dash. Additionally, we never stated that we were not going to pay.
The additional two copied-and-pasted responses are her replies to the other negative Trip Advisor reviews that each granted her a respectable three chits. The responses are COMPLETELY unedited and are of equal comic value for their sentiment, rather than for reflecting a limited comprehension of English."
"I will NOT spend one words for your disgusting REVIEW! Remember...YOU DIDN’T PAY your bill! PERIOD as you told me last night! Enjoy your life ...it is to short to go around and complain for everything!"
"I really don't know what to said!!!
Why, why you didn't tell me when I stop at your table???
I always ask if everything is ok, and it seams it was.....but it seams it WASNT!
I need to know right away what it is wrong, so we can adjusted .
But for some reason, people like to said more in a review then in front of owners face.
And by the way, our tomatoes are from the farm, when they said wine ripe tomatoes we trust them!
And our mozzarella it is always the best quality and fresh , that's way you paid $ 10.95.
Anyway if you would like to give us another chance I will more than happy!"
"Thank you for your rewiew.
I'm surprise about your comment, because when I stop at your table, not only one time but more then two, you seems happy.
And when I ask if everything was ok you confirm that everything was OK.
I would like to know if somethings it is not good or not cook in the way my clients/friends are expecting.
That's the reason I stop at the table and I ask for it.
You know when the restaurant it is busy the way it was Saturday, can happen some mistake, but YOU didn't complained at all that same night.
And about the chicken parm price
It was only just a chicken, it was also a fresh FIOR DI LATTE MOZZARELLA,with a ORIGINAL PROSCIUTTO DI PARMA.
Those ingredients are expensive even for us.
I appreciate people that can said what they are thinking in front of me, not in one rewiew.
And I'm so sorry that you mentioned you will not come back, but as somebody said:
YOU CAN PLEASED EVERYBODY.
Thank you again "
The better news is that we had a decent dinner at another restaurant the following night and a last-meal worthy experience at H20 on Saturday night.
The morals of this story are to resolve contradictions in relationships and that restaurant owners who make a bad situation worse face the possibility of an accurate and sincere negative review showing up online.
Having what I consider a relevant perspective and being a life-long political moderate who has always had Independent or Unregistered status (and last voted in 2015) is prompting this diversion in to Blogland regarding Brett Kavanaugh.
Like many proper-thinking individuals, I am unsure if the allegations against Kavanaugh justify keeping him off the United States Supreme Court. I would want both sides to calmly and objectively state their cases. I do believe that the raising of the issues is ENTIRELY politically motivated and does not reflect a belief that he lacks the knowledge and the experience for the position,
The aforementioned perspective is being a prep. school boy with first-hand knowledge of the environment of Kavanaugh during his formative years. This essay discusses the virtues and the ills of that system and addresses the related senses of entitlement and lack of oversight that can allow (and condone) bullying and other improper conduct that literally includes a covert sex tape. The sad part is that parents shell out big money to shelter their kids from those harms.
A starting point is that one purpose of the three branches of government and the related checks and balances is to have the highest court in our land be free from political influences. Further, the past several nomination proceedings have demonstrated the flaw of having a president nominate a Supreme Court justice,
The means by which the Academy Award winners and popes are selected seem to provide a better model. Each time that there is a vacancy, the Supreme Court should PURELY randomly select a panel of federal judges to nominate candidates based on Congressionally approved standards. This slate should be then be presented to every federal judge below the Supreme Court level for voting,
The checks and balances consist of existing procedures for removing judges for misconduct.
A more underlying issue is that any court should not consider politics when resolving legal disputes. The uniform practice of exerting political pressure on the court has always greatly bothered me, Although the framers of the Constitution could not have anticipated modern issues such as marriage equality, ANY court should take a secular what would Jesus do approach and OBJECTIVELY determine the applicable constitutional principle.
PREP PROS AND CONS
The name of the respected prep. school that I attended for three years is irrelevant because news and anecdotal reports (as well as the '80scom "The Facts of Life") indicate that the same type of thing occurs at most of them. My experience overall was positive in that the smaller classes and living with teachers enhanced learning, being required to participate in a sport (fat kids took refuge in the drama department) prompted a MODIFIED exercise program that I still follow, and I remain in touch with some classmates whom I generally consider to be brothers.
A hilarious misunderstanding highlights the new friends and broadening of horizons of prep. school. A very nice black guy in my dorm always would greet me with a smile and what sound like "Hi Holmes" whenever we passed even though I doubt that he knew my name. Because I was a smart kid, I thought that he was calling me Sherlock Holmes.
This guy laughed when this smallish white boy from an upscale area asked him about the term. He explained with absolute no ill will that the term was "homes" and that people in college used it to greet high school friends "from home" when seeing them in college.
A current friend PERFECTLY describes a downside of prep. schools by calling them "kids' jails" to which parents send children to get rid of them under the guise of doing something good. I was agreeable to going to boarding school (and benefited from it), but my mother manipulated me into doing so to aptly facilitate moving to Washington to pursue her interest in politics; living with Dad was not an option.
The relevancy of this to Kavanaugh is that the downside of even day school prep, school life is that many parents send their kids there so they do not have to deal with them. At the same time, teachers often do not properly fill the parental role and can just as regularly be concerned that bad acts not ruin the life of the offender. This makes it rough when the bully has 24-7 access to you.
Although Kavanaugh attending a day school, the same sense of privilege and lack of parenting seems to apply. All accounts indicate that he was a stud of the school and destined for great things. The apparent problem was that no one either saw or acted on the need to rein him in.
BULLY FOR YOU
From the beginning, the Kavanaugh controversy reminded me of literally nightly NON-SEXUAL attacks during my prep, school days. I have since made peace with the main offender, who reminds me a great deal of the nominee. This guy had a similar ethnic background and was a star player of an aggressive contact sport, He additionally had a strong sense of privilege and currently runs a predatory business that greatly profits from the misfortunes of others.
I lived on the same hall as this guy and his partner-in-crime (who now is a top-ranked finance guy) my junior and senior years. The lesser offenses of these guys was breaking into my room to take snacks and "borrow" a backgammon board, which they always would return, If I was around, these big guys would refuse to leave until I played as many games as they wanted. Of course, they would torment me during the game and do things such as lunge at me to provide them the amusement of watching me flinch,.
The worse offense was bursting into my room into the middle of the night EVERY night just to wake me and try to scare me; they apparently did not realize that my knowing that this occurred every night precluded being scared.
Although (if true), the experience of Christine Blasey Ford was more terrifying, I can relate to her hesitancy to speak up. A prep, school community is smaller and more tight-knit than at a public school, and "ratting out" a fellow student can make life tough. The offenders living down the hall and your classmates always not being much further away exasperates this.
My tormentors actually driving a kid from the school further illustrates this. I knew that the midnight raids had extended to a small and frail boy who was a newly transferred junior when the bullies and I were seniors. This abuse prompted the kid to drop out after two months; I likely would have done the same if I had been targeted at the beginning of my first year at the school. That year allowed me to establish myself and to establish a large group of friends.
The dorm master, who was a burned-out senior faculty member with a minimal dorm presence and let two stoners play Frisbee on the roof every afternoon, did ask me if I knew who was tormenting the junior, I lied and said that I did not. My reasons included not wanting to ruin the lives of the bullies and knowing that only having one strike against them would not have gotten them expelled. I also mistakenly believed that covering for these guys would have gotten them to ease up on me.
SEX, LIES, AND VIDEOTAPE
A more recent incident at the school hits even closer to home. A random Google search of the school in June produced the surprising result of two relatively recent newspaper stories about a sex tape.
The condensed version of the incident was that the boy did not tell his girlfriend that he was taping their consensual sex. As always happens in prep. school settings, word of the tape soon spread. The police were called in and found the recording even though the boy asserted that he had only watched the tape once by himself and erased it. It was suspected (but never proved) that others saw the tape.
The boy left the school, and there was a court proceeding. The headmaster surprisingly condoned the act by writing the boy a letter of recommendation after learning of the tape. The stated justification was that the boy had done good work before the incident, and the headmaster had not wanted one incident to ruin those accomplishments.
The rest of the story is that the headmaster was a student when another sexual offense occurred and MAY have witnessed it, I had recently graduated and was told the story by a faculty member with whom I maintained contact.
The synopsis this time was that a fully dressed female student was grabbed and thrown into the locker room of a boy's team. The girl was held down on the bench, and a boy put his exposed naughty bits in her face. The blurry details regarding this (recently confirmed) incident included a belief that the boy was the boyfriend of the girl.
The elements that make one sympathize with Ford this time include that the sexual history of the girl (including regularly climbing in the dorm-room window of one of my tormentors when they were "dating") was a factor regarding the student body not being sympathetic toward her. The faculty member shared that the boy who climbed on her was forced to leave the school and that the students thought that the girl should have been the one to go This is another example of the price of going against the school stud,
The relayed incidents (and other stories such as teacher having an affair with and ultimately marrying one of his students) are a few of numerous examples of what occurs in many (but probably not every) prep. school and the system that allows it to go unchecked.
My own feelings until talking (but not hugging) it out with my bullies suggests both that Ford would have obtained closure if the prep, school system was better designed to handle such matters. This likely would have avoided all the cost and turmoil related to the Kavanaugh proceeding,
The fact is that such campuses largely being self-contained communities and not paying property taxes enhances a sense that they are sovereign nations; the notable alumni (including the sitcom producer from my school :-)) and family legacies contribute to this sense of privilege.
On a related note, my best friends and the parents whom I liked the best lived relatively simply and did not flaunt their wealth. My parents not being very active in my life made me enjoy comfort-food home-cooked meals with friends, their parents, and their siblings who also often became friends, The mothers invariably cooked the meals despite having enough money to have live-in help,
The best memory regarding this was befriending the doberman whom one family largely had for protection because of the nature of the work of the father, My smiling and saying "good boy" when the dog ran up barking and my showing him great love ultimately fully transformed him into a pet. The self-imposed rule for overnights was that I would not invite him on the bed but would not rat him out if he jumped up. I would make him get down before anyone else woke up.
Forwarding this email to a former teacher/involved dorm parent who currently has input regarding prep. school culture hopefully will help change things for the better.
An episode in the 2001-2002 13th season of "The Simpsons" perfectly expresses the true current state of Gay Pride. The titular nuclear family is attending a Pride parade when the marchers start chanting "We're here! We're queer! Get used to it!" Eight year-old Lisa responds that the group marches every year and that the general populace is used to it.
The view of Lisa is consistent with that of your not-so-humble reviewer roughly since the era of the aforementioned "Simpsons" episode. The Gay Rights movement has made such strides by the beginning of the 21st century that skinny hairless boys only wearing a Speedo and rollerblades and fat hairy bearded middle-aged men wearing dresses merely show off and do not help the Pride movement. If anything, these acts reinforce the stereotypes that require Pride parades.
This criticism is presented in the dual context of Pride Month 2017 and Breaking Glass Pictures releasing gay-themed films that reflect the spirit of Pride and the related concept that quality films from this genre present universal themes. Unreal TV is honoring this through a month-long series of retweets of Breaking DVD releases.
Breaking Co-President Richard Ross eloquently expresses the above sentiments in an Unreal TV interview earlier this year. This conversation includes how the themes in the breaking films "Retake" and "Lazy Eye" of seeking closure or a new beginning with the one who got away can apply regarding any variation of romantic relationship.This shows that Philadelphia literally should throw this man a parade next June.
On a larger level, Unreal TV is on Team breaking because their films avoid gay stereotypes. The young guys are neither doe-eyed nor have over-scrubbed skin. Further, all the men accurately reflect real-life gay men in that they are average blokes whose sexuality is not the center of their lives. Further, most of them desire the same stability and happiness for which we all strive.
This reflects the universal nature of the gay experience that shows that the fact that a boy likes other boys is no basis for either fear or condemnation. Releases from breaking and similar art-house film distributors prove that sexuality truly should be a non-issue for most of us.