Does anyone else sometimes feel like there was a whole memo on adulting that went round at some point which entirely passed them by?
I mean, I am An Actual Proper Grown Up. I have two children. I have a husband. I have a house, and a job, and a car, and Real Life Responsibilities.
And yet I wake up pretty much every morning convinced that someone is going to see through the façade and call me on it. “Responsible adult?! You?! HA!” And, they would be right.
If ever I wanted an example of my non-adult status, then meals out would give it to me. Meals out, in posh restaurants. Now, I fully accept here that I am an extremely lucky individual. I get to go and have a lot of meals out, and a lot of them in very posh restaurants. And, after several years’ of practise, you’d think I’d know the drill. You’d think I’d know exactly how to behave in a posh restaurant. You’d think…
In no particular order, here are the things that still confuse the fuck out of me about posh restaurants:
#1 How you get into them. No, I’m not exaggerating. Quite often, your dining experience is launched by you slamming yourself bodily against the extremely heavy glass door, because of COURSE you pull, rather than push, EVEN THOUGH IT LOOKS EXACTLY LIKE A DOOR ONE WOULD PULL. Posh restaurants are absolute fucking shockers for making you look like a total dick from before you’ve even walked through the door.
#2 Coats. Posh restaurants do not like you keeping hold of your coat at all. The staff will attempt to encourage you out of it at every given opportunity. If you claim to be cold then I swear, they would rather build a funeral pyre around you and set it ablaze than allow you to remain in your coat.
#3 Sitting down at the table. Which should be easy, right? I mean, all you have to do is sit down at the table. Something you do every day at home. This should not be a difficult part of the process. And yet sitting down at posh restaurants is like DANCING THE FUCKING VIENNIESE WALTZ. ON CRACK. The waiters will be darting in and out, pulling out chairs, proffering them towards you, taking them away, unfurling napkins, still trying to get your fucking coat off you. It is a fucking nightmare. If you manage to sit down in your seat, still wearing your coat, without inadvertently sitting on someone else’s lap or falling flat on the floor, then you are a better person than me is all I can say.
#4 Ordering the drinks. This is usually accompanied by a wine list approximately one metre thick, which in order not to blow your cover as a Non-Adult you must spend a minimum of five minutes browsing through, accompanied by ‘mmmms’ and other noises to make you sound like we have even the vaguest clue what you are doing. When all you really want to know is can you have a glass of the very cheapest wine they have and a pint of tap water.
#5 Eating. THIS BIT SHOULD NOT BE HARD. It is the whole fucking reason you went to the restaurant in the first place. And yet, and yet. There are the social faux pas of using the wrong cutlery (not fucking hard when you have a choice of TWENTY different utensils). There is eating something which you thought was part of the meal but turns out to be a table decoration (I have sadly done this on more than one occasion). There is wondering if it would be rude to ask for a side order of a Big Mac to go with the smallest helping of food you have ever seen on a plate, ever. Posh restaurants are not known for their generosity of portions.
#6 Using the toilets. Toilets in posh restaurants are never signposted, always hidden, and invariably down approximately twelve miles of corridors. It is basically like they want you to shit yourself at the table.
#7 Paying the bill. Oh god, paying the fucking bill. I will say it right now: I have not a fucking clue about the right amount to tip. Too low, and the staff will be spitting in your food and putting offcuts of offal in your coat pockets (which they will finally have managed to prise off you). Too high, and they’ll be mugging you on your way out under the mistaken impression that you are some flash git with cash to hurl around. I tend to panic and just leave my wallet on the table and let them help themselves.
And, in case you thought none of this was relevant to you because you are not so much of a dick that you would pay £45 for one solitary lettuce leaf when you can get an entire iceberg lettuce from Tesco for £1 (and you would be right)… I have a similar issue at non-posh restaurants. Have you BEEN to a Harvester recently? Trying to unscramble that menu, with its “one item from section A” and “twelve items from section B, unless the sky is pink and there’s an ‘a’ in your name, in which case take four items from section B, six items from section C, and do not pass go” is like doing a fucking Sudoku puzzle.
If anyone has the answers on how to adult, I would be very grateful to hear from you.