Ordering At A Restaurant Is My Hell

Ordering At A Restaurant Is My Hell

Next week I’ll be attending my first bachelor party in Nashville, commonly known as “NashVegas” by people who are obnoxious like me. Obviously, I’m looking forward to the entirety of the trip, which begins next Thursday night with a visit to what the guy planning the weekend describes as an “upscale restaurant.” We’re not celebrating our boy’s nuptials with fast food.

I’m expecting big things at the meal; rich, satisfying, and boozy. But with this dining out experience, just like any other, comes a familiar predicament that consistently plagues me and is something that is already on my mind over a week out. That moment where a waiter or waitress gazes upon my shook face and asks “And for you sir?”

When a menu gets placed before my eyes, I become an indecisive panicked maniac. It doesn’t matter which restaurant or what kind of menu. I could be at a Ruth’s Chris or a Taco Bell and equally struggle under the pressure to nail my order. We’re so far removed from the old days where the only thing you were eating for dinner was bread or shit-smelling mush, and frankly it’s a bit overwhelming.

Whether it’s a group meal or my girlfriend has coaxed my notoriously cheap ass into taking us out to dinner, sometimes even when I’m eating by myself (shoutout to the St. Louis Lambert International Airport Chili’s, twice in three days), I buckle under the pressure of ordering. You have to understand, I fashion myself as Guy Fieri with less frosted tips and flame tattoos. I love food. I love all food. Almost everything on a menu is in my ballpark. My first scan through the menu usually nets at least seven items I’d love to stuff my gluttonous face with.

The amount of envy that bubbles up inside me when someone looks at a menu instantly deciding what they’re going to get is almost embarrassing. How does anyone operate like that? Did you see the pork chops with the balsamic glaze? Or the angel hair pasta with vodka sauce that you could add chicken or shrimp to? How’d you easily separate those two? This decision is going to determine your happiness for the next 45 to 90 minutes; it’s unnerving to think that you could be signing the check thinking “What if I had ordered something else?”

Hell, even thinking about sitting at a Chili’s and having to decide between Crispers, a Triple Dipper, or a burger just makes me start to sweat like The Mooch when he runs out of cocaine. If you pick the Crispers, which Crispers variety? Honey-Chipotle were fire last time, but sometimes original with some honey mustard just hits the spot. Do I just abandon the Southwestern Eggrolls? All that indecision, and that’s before I see the Prime Rib Tacos.

Pretty much the only thing I can ever count on myself to be consistent with in a restaurant is uttering the phrase “Come to me last” as well as constantly spewing “So what’re you guys getting? Did you see that BBQ burger?”

That initial moment at the table where you crack open your menus after ordering beers may be a nice time to shoot the shit and set the vibe of the meal for everyone else, but as soon as I open up that lamented cuisine display I’ve got anxiety like I’m Paul Manafort and the FBI is sifting through my shit. The dinner squad might be talking about Deshaun Watson definitely winning ROY, but all I’m thinking about is whether I’ll hate myself in an hour for ordering the snapper over fried chicken.

As the waiter circles the table jotting down each order my eyes dart back and forth to my painful final two choices. There’s something to be said about the mental stability of a guy flipping a worn out laminated page back and forward while the guy next to him has had his menu closed and sitting in front of him for five minutes.

Much like the feeling of jumping in a potentially cold pool, as soon as the action takes place, relief washes over me. Whether I went with the pork or the pasta, I’ll likely enjoy it. Frankly, even if I don’t I’ll just pound enough Miller Lite to get over it. What’s most important is I’ve pushed my ordering panic to another time down the road.

Wait, I wonder if we’re getting dessert?

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Kyle Bandujo

The artist formerly known as Crash Davis. My kid doesn't think I'm funny.

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