Hungry At Hoss's

On a recent visit to a local Hoss’s Restaurant, my wife and I were once again the subjects of an episode in our gracefully aging lives. Perhaps you might be able to identify with what happens when hunger and uncertainty mix with a lethal dose of stubbornness to form a mysterious malady.  

We placed our order – each selecting the salad bar for our meal and an ice water as our beverage.  [Please note: A week earlier we both decided that we were going to start to eat more healthy foods and vowed to lose some weight.  To put it bluntly, from dieting all week, I was hungry.] 

Nothing Escapes My Sharp Eye
We were seated by a young man in the customary fashion.  I noticed immediately that the sun was shining right in my eyes as I sat down, but I didn’t care much as the warm rays were welcome on this cold February day.  He picked up the two not-to-be-used place settings on our table, left the remaining two settings in place, rested the order booklet on the table and said, “Your waitress will be here shortly. You may help yourselves to the salad bar.”

Forgive the following details, but they are an integral part of this narrative.  I set my coat and gloves next to me on the empty chair. In addition to her coat and gloves, my wife also placed her reading glasses and scarf next to her, too.   And off to the salad bar we trekked.

I returned with my two heaping salad plates, placed them on the table, and then proceeded back to the buffet area to fill a bowl with French onion soup.  Finally, back at our table, I unfolded my napkin in anticipation of that hot, aromatic soup.  As I did, I couldn’t help but notice that the sun was no longer shining in my eyes. “Hmm, that sun set rather quickly,” I thought.

Funny, but I was completely unaware of the fact that there were now four place settings on our table.  I also didn’t realize that none of our clothes or my wife’s glasses were present, either.  Come to think of it, I didn’t even notice that MY WIFE WASN’T PRESENT.  Remember, I was hungry.  

Hot, Aromatic French Onion Soup with plenty of croutons and cheese

What I did notice was that my soup was brimming with a dozen huge flavored croutons and was smothered under a quarter pound of shredded mozzarella cheese.  I couldn’t wait to taste it.

Happy to Render Assistance
Just then, a waitress popped into the picture. With her hands on her hips and a puzzled look, she asked, “Who seated you here, sir?”  I replied that the young gentleman out front assigned the seats to us.

Then, without hesitation, I offered her some unsolicited information concerning our beverages.  “We ordered only ice water to drink,” I cheerfully advised.  “Maybe that will help you.”

Still puzzled, the waitress then asked, “But where is the booklet that holds your order?”
Always willing to lend a helping hand, I replied, “Maybe it was picked up by another waitress, thinking her tip was in it – the tip left behind by a previous customer.”  

She shrugged her shoulders and headed off in another direction while I was getting more and more annoyed with the fact that I hadn’t yet been able to sample that soup.  

Recalling horrific incidents when all three of my children waited tables, I tempered my impatience with the thought, “That poor waitress must be having a bad day. I’m not going to give her a rough time and make the situation worse.”

My wife will agree, I’m sure, that I can be very accommodating to others, regardless of my mental state.  But, in this case, I may have been too hungry to realize that the waitress was gently trying to tell me that I just might have made a mistake regarding my seat.

Then another waitress appeared and asked, “Excuse me sir, but are you dining with the lady with blonde hair?”  Because my wife recently changed her hair color and no one had referred to her as a blonde before, I hesitated with my answer. 

I’m sure I resembled a…..well…...large, hungry, homeless (remember, I have no coat or gloves), confused grandfather on the verge of total dementia and who is always right.  “Yes, I am with her,” I eventually replied.

“Well, she is seated over there,” she explained, as she pointed to another section of the restaurant.

Time to Face Facts
Both waitresses then assisted this old decrepit geezer with his arthritic knees, his two plates, and his bowl to his former seat where his wife was patiently waiting for him.  Of course, with my health issues, she wore a look of concern on her face.  “Where have you been?” she asked anxiously.  No matter how much I tried, I couldn’t even muster up a response. 

Could this story get any worse? Of course it could. As I was being escorted from one section to the other, I noticed that a young couple and their two young children had witnessed this whole scenario.   With a huge smile on the man’s face, using his hands in gestures and eventually laughing out loud, he tried to console me – or so I thought.  To be honest, my hearing is so bad that I didn’t understand a single word he said.  I returned a smile, with my tomato-red face, in his direction and just kept walking.

Both waitresses continued to reassure me a dozen times, “This happens all the time, sir.  Please don’t worry about it.” I knew, however, they were just trying to be nice.  “Yes, it happens when a customer is 9 or 90, but it shouldn’t be happening to me,” I thought in silence.

I don’t think our shoulders stopped shaking with laughter during our entire trip back home that evening.  My wife’s final comment on the situation was truly fitting, “If only you weren’t so sure that you’re always right!” 

I replied, again in thought only, certain that she was mistaken, “If only that French onion soup hadn’t smelled so good.”  

My Roots - The Potchaks - circa 1927

My Roots - The Potchaks - circa 1927
From Left: Son, Steve - Dad, Frank - Mom, Anastasia (Makar) - Sons; John, Mike, Frank, Chuck (Author's Dad) - Twins, Pete & Mary - Daughter, Catherine. Photo taken in Wilmore, PA