The Waiter, My Food, and His Fingernails

One of the joys of travel is treating yourself to nice restaurants in pretty locations—places that offer lovely views, a variety of non-greasy options and excellent service. Southern California’s coastal enclaves have no shortage of such options. After spending last week surrounded by San Gabriel mountains but mired in ugly deep-fryer eateries, I was ready to round out the final leg of my trip at the coast and with a serious hotel and dining upgrade. I had only nineteen hours to redeem before my flight, so I chose wisely, or so I thought.

Having checked into my glamorous hotel on this sunny and promising day, I was ready to match the new vibe with a classy outdoor meal; the world of squawking drive-through windows was officially behind me. It was time to try some foodie fare while soaking in the fashionable, coastal warmth of a restaurant patio. MR.GREEN Manicure Sets... Buy New $39.90 ($39.90 / Count) (as of 04:22 UTC - Details)

My first waiter was an older Mexican man, attentive but making no fawning attempts to impress. He took my order and delivered a Coke without fanfare; so far, things were moving smoothly. Only a few ladies doing lunch sat nearby, so I was able to idle peacefully in the glow of a patio heater while I waited for my meal to arrive. I was famished, too; after my long drive out to the coast, it was now well past the lunch hour. My food would surely receive a hero’s welcome.

As it turns out, bewilderment awaited me. The waiter who who arrived next was a bit of a puzzle; I had no idea what sort of human was bearing my long-awaited plates. The outfit led me down one path, but the face another. Stretch jeans plastered a womanly backside, but the skin-tight shirt told otherwise. Next came the face—square but softly plump, and with a touch of five-o’clock shadow. The hair was noncommittal—longish for a man, and shorter for a woman. The voice warbled to a higher pitch but rose from manlier chords.

Etekcity Smart Scale f... Best Price: $18.01 Buy New $23.99 (as of 04:22 UTC - Details) This was confusing enough, but what came next took the cake and eliminated any appetite for that as well. As the would-be lady (I wagered) lowered my dishes to the table, I spied a long, painted fingernail disappearing into a corner recess of my roasted potatoes. Gripping the next bowl, his fingernail hid behind some Brussels sprouts, my perennial favorite dish. For any waiter of any gender, this stomach-churning move is offensive, but the bewildering visual disunions brought extra alarms. I had no idea whom or what I would be addressing, or perhaps even triggering; a few more quick calculations sent me into silent resignation.

I brokered an uneasy peace with the tainted plates. The invasive grip limited me to only half of the rosemary-encrusted potatoes and two-thirds of my Brussels sprouts. I placed the molested portions of each dish at the one o’clock position, thus marking a danger zone, which I patrolled to ensure no sketchy border pieces rolled into my fork’s path.

The Southern California lunch wrapped up with nary a word from me; all was not lost that day, or so it seemed. His fingernails were still free to roam, and I learned to appreciate the drive-through—but it took a glimmer off the Golden State for me.

This originally appeared on Restoring Truth.