By Mark David Blum, Esq.
I have to tell you the story of ‘Dean’. You would love Dean and if you ever get the chance to meet Dean, do not pass it up. No waiter I have ever met rocks it like Dean.
My bride and I went to see ‘42’ last night at Shoppingtown. We planned to get there early so as to go to Fridays (I know, don’t say it) and have a quick dinner before the flick. Dinner and a movie; date night. There are no other food sources at what is left of Shoppingtown and even the food court is gutted down to Docs Fish Fry, Arbys, and some Chinese thing I think.
So we meander on down to Fridays and watch as an obviously discombobulated staff is trying to figure out how to seat the party of 4 in front of us. There were an equal number of hostesses all trying to solve some critical formula. After much chaos and confusion, the party was escorted away.
Then it was our turn. I approached holding up two fingers (it was loud in there) signaling a party of two. Up out of nowhere pops Dean. He is 20 something, blonde, not bad looking if you are into guys, and rocked the flaming queen role to the hilt bursting with pride.
The first words out of Dean’s mouth were, “its just the two of us?” I then corrected his English (I hate sloppy grammar) and said, “no, its just the two of us” referencing my bride and I.
Well as fate would have it, Dean misunderstood my correction. My wife is looking at me cockeyed (pun intended) as Dean leads us to our table singing and engaging in a loud soliloquy and impromptu monologue about how I was hitting up on him and referring to him as part of the “us”. He is prattling on and on about me and him and how I was flirting with him as he skipped along merrily to our table. It took me a good ten minutes to explain to these two boneheads where the original error was and what my correction meant. He got it. She still doesnt. We invited Dean to sit and join us so he could be one of "us" and pretended to play along until i asked him if he was getting the check. He said he doesn't do that. I called him a bitch. He laughed. Dean then began to just chatter a hundred words a minute. He finally took our drink order and poofed.
A minute or so later, the Mrs. decides we need to change tables because the sun is in her eyes. Up popped I and not seeing Dean anywhere, I went to the hostesses and asked for a different table. They huddled and conferenced and met and discussed and in the end, one of them walked us to a different table in a different section of the restaurant.
As we headed to our new table, we saw Dean off in the distance standing with our drinks in hand looking so forlorn and sad. I waived him over, explained it wasn’t him it was us, and that we want him to stay on as our waiter. He pouted and said we were not his section and that prior we had been in his section but another waiter would be handling us. I refused and insisted he stay on as our waiter even though it meant he had a cluster of tables on one side of the restaurant and one pair of clowns sitting on the other. As Dean came and went over the course of the meal, he kept on saying, “I have to leave now and go handle the loser section but I will be back.”
This guy was a laugh riot. He could say more words in the span of a minute than the best lawyer in the game. And with his hyper flaming queen bubbling personality, Dean was pure entertainment.
When he came to take our orders, Dean and the bride got into a discussion that transitioned from how Shoppingtown was dying on the vine and how big and successful Destiny was. They jibbered and jabbered about this store and that one and wouldn’t shut up about Old Navy (which apparently to my wife’s surprise had disappeared from Shoppingtown). I finally had to interrupt by saying, “girls, can we PLEASE stop talking about shopping and get some food?” Neither the wife nor I had a drop of alcohol but had not stopped laughing since we walked in. God bless Dean. I tell ya, I have never seen anybody get so hot and excited because another person ordered the sweet potato fries.
We were having so much fun talking about Dean behind his back and various other matters and I was on one of my tirades where I cant stop making everything funny. It was non stop. Suddenly Dean reappeared and apologized that the kitchen was taking so long and, IF we agreed to sign up for the restaurant’s Stripes program, he would be happy to bring us some complimentary chips and salsa. Well, since the Mrs. and I by serendipity were both wearing stripes of a different color, we told him we were already striped and didn’t need to join the club. Dean played along and after another ten minutes of totally gay hysterical banter, he poofed again.
Somebody showed up a few minutes later with a basket of chips and salsa. The chips were older than I am and were fried together in a giant clump. We just left it there and ignored it after having a few laughs and trying to figure out various things that the clump reminded us of. ‘A corsage’ was the winner. Dean made another of his visits and he saw the clump and he and the bride were off again about shopping and the mall ….
New chips arrived by an anonymous server. We had no idea the kitchen was running slow or that things were taking a long time. I guess Dean provided so much entertainment that we got a show with the meal and forgot the time. I couldn’t eat the chips. I don’t think the Mrs. had but a couple.
Then, before the food came, my drink cup did runneth dry and I put it at the edge of the table so someone would notice and provide a refill. Nope. It just sat there and sat there while waiter after waiter walked by. I guess it wasn’t their section. Four apparent manager types walked by during the course of our meal asking if everything was ok but didn’t stop moving long enough to hear an answer cuz I tried to tell him how fabulous Dean was but never got a chance.
Eventually another server brought us our food and as he was leaving, asked if we wanted anything. I asked for a refill of my drink. He left and was never seen again. Dean stopped by to see if everything was OK and I asked him too for a refill and he noted the previous server had taken my cup. You already know what happened next; four cups of coffee all arrived within a couple of minutes of each other. (Yes, I was pounding coffee to stay awake during the movie).
Now bear in mind that I had decided at the get-go that I was going to be generous with the tip because I was running Dean from his own area to serve us; making his job harder. After a good meal and a hour and half of a riotous show, it came down to where the rubber meets the road. It was time to cash out. He brought the check which was less than I expected. I put a large bill in the booklet with just enough showing that I expected change. Dean walks up and says, “are we OK?” I say giggling, “NO”. He then promises to be right back.
Five minutes go by and no Dean. The movie is soon to start and we are standing and wanting to go. Still no Dean. We cant see him anywhere. I want my money and I want to leave. In my head, I start to slowly reduce his tip by the passage of time.
Then I had a great idea. Dean finally showed up. I saw him come from the “loser section” meaning he didn’t take my check to be cashed out but instead went to nurse his other customers. Not cool, Dean. Not a good idea to make me wait.
Payback is a bitch. When he FINALLY brought me my change, we waited until he left and I put a single dollar bill in the booklet as a tip and we started to walk out --- waiting for it. And, as expected, within moments of our headed to the door, Dean showed up and was all smiles and bouncy thanking us and asked what was wrong that he only got a dollar. I responded by listing all the screwups of the evening including being ignored on cashing us out. He started to look very sad and then I handed him the rest of his tip which was equal to the check amount. He was so moved, he actually hugged the wife and started toward me and then thought the better of it.
Folks, really. If you end up at Fridays at Shoppingtown Mall, ask for Dean. Buy the man a drink. Chat him up. He is a non stop laugh riot and an obvious good man. It is worth the dime.
Dean, we love you man. Thanks for the theater.