A local waiter I know says that no matter how much women tip, it isn't worth the pain and suffering of dealing with them.
A co-ed group is fine, he insists, but a group of six or eight women out for lunch or dinner is a waiter's worst nightmare.
Why, he begs to know, can't women just order their own meals? But no, he fumes, everybody has to share a salad and an entree with someone else. And that someone is invariably at the other end of the table.
Negotiations are prolonged and interminable. His imitation is brutal:
Waiter (third time over): Ready to order now?
Woman 1: "Who wants to split a pasta and a Nicoise salad with me?"
Woman 2: "I will, if we leave out the green beans. My trainer says they're not good for my blood type."
Waiter (fifth trip over, teeth clenched in forced smile): "Have we decided yet, ladies?"
Women: "Yes, I think we're ready. Muffy and Babs are going to split an order of ravioli, but Babs wants the lemon cream sauce on hers and Muffy wants the marinara. Oops, that's the other way around. They also want to split a house salad, one with balsamic vinaigrette on the side, and the other tossed with the honey mustard, if that's not too much trouble. ZsuZsu and Topper are going to split the goat cheese pizza, but hold the red onion on one half, and a small house salad with no feta, and no tomatoes unless they're organic. Bitsy and I will have the Greek sampler plate, but since she doesn't like falafel, could you put her falafel on my plate, and my lamb kabob on hers? If there's only one of something, just cut it in half." (Smiles.) "We don't want to make this complicated."
Several minutes later: "Is it too late to change the ravioli to linguine?"
Several minutes after that: "Bitsy has just reminded us to confirm with your chef that none of your food products come from China."
The food comes. No one can remember what she ordered.
It's even worse, he says, if the restaurant serves anything even remotely ethnic.
"What's in it?"
(Answer: the ingredients listed on the menu.)
"Is it spicy?"
(Well, yeah. It's SUPPOSED to be spicy.)
"Can you make it not spicy?"
(What's your definition of "not spicy"? And if you don't like spicy, order the ravioli!)
And don't even get him started on the wine. It doesn't matter that every time they come in he tells them that there are approximately five glasses in a bottle. They still have to ask how many glasses in a bottle.
And then first-round negotiations begin: Who wants red and who wants white followed by an extensive cost analysis of ordering a bottle of red plus three glasses of white versus a bottle of each. Preferences for pinot grigio vs. chardonnay, cabernet vs. merlot are tallied. The waiter's recommendations on the wine list will be solicited, he says, but universally ignored.
But the coup de grace is the check. This, he maintains, makes everything before it look like a day at the Shores. It's when the waiter decides it's really time to go back and get his B.A. Or a gun license.
The cell phone calculators come out. Who had what, or more specifically, half of what, must be ascertained before figuring in tax and tip. Two people have invariably realized they have no cash and want to either write a check for their portion or put just their part on a credit card. If guys were there, he maintains, they'd divide the check by eight. No calculators would be seen. They would never hand you eight credit cards. And then ask you to put a different amount on each.
As far as he's concerned, a 70 percent tip would be reasonable. But still not enough. What he really wants is a table full of guys.
Look for La Jolla resident Inga’s lighthearted looks at life every other week in the La Jolla Light.