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Pardon My French, But What A Jerk

, , , , , , , | Related | CREDIT: AQuietBorderline | August 14, 2021

My stepmother has her good traits, but she does have this one really nasty trait. She is notoriously picky and critical when it comes to food. You know the stereotypical snooty and rude French character in movies and books who always complains, “That is not how this is done in France.”? She’s this way when it comes to food.

Going out to eat with her is embarrassing. She constantly sends back food, insists on food being made a certain way, and demands certain things done a certain way. One time, she asked the waiter to bring some mustard to the table. Not two minutes later, she called him back because the mustard was “old,” and insisted that he bring us a new unopened bottle. More than once, I’ve had to apologize to the waitstaff on my family’s behalf and tell the manager that I will vouch for them should [Stepmother] leave a bad review on their site.

She’s made waiters and managers cry; she’s that bad. Honestly, I have no idea why Dad puts up with her when she does that, even though I know he’s just as embarrassed as [Brother] and I are.

My dad just came into town to visit my brother and me for a few days and brought my stepmother with him. Dad recommended our new favorite new diner, which is known for its breakfasts at any time of the day. We live close to a major interstate and the saying about truckers knowing all the best diners and holes in the wall in all fifty states and then some is true.

It’s a greasy spoon in every sense of the word — right out of the 1950s, every leather booth filled with truckers or locals, waitresses who automatically know their regulars’ orders by heart and don’t put up with crap from anyone, a bustling kitchen — and while spotless, it’s just worn enough to let you know many people have been there. In other words, it has character. It may not look like a five-star restaurant, but it has some of the best breakfasts you’re ever going to eat.

I was hesitant to take [Stepmother] there if only because I didn’t want to ruin the staff’s day; [Brother] and I have been there enough times that the waitstaff and cooks know us. However, Dad wanted [Stepmother] to experience “a true American classic” and was offering to pay. So off we (reluctantly) went.

Luckily, we got there during a time that wasn’t busy, so I told Dad to find a parking spot and I would go in to get us a table. I wanted to warn the staff about [Stepmother] and apologize in advance for anything she did. Fortunately, our usual waitress thanked me for the warning and warned the rest of the staff.

We went in, got our booth… and [Stepmother] tried pulling her usual stunts. I won’t go into everything she did because we’ll be here forever, but I’ll leave a highlight reel.

[Stepmother] sent [Waitress] back three times with the coffee because, in order, “it was too cold”, “it was too hot,” and “not enough cream”. Finally, [Waitress], who doesn’t let anybody push her around, just slapped the coffee pot on the table along with the cream and sugar and told [Stepmother] to make do because she wasn’t going back to get her d*** coffee. This made [Brother] and me chuckle and [Stepmother] steam.

While waiting (and probably still stewing from [Waitress]’s little comeback with the coffee), [Stepmother] decided to accost a new waitress who had just started and tell her to get some fresh biscuits. Not ask. Tell. Poor [New Waitress], who was understandably anxious about her job, did as she was told. Then [Stepmother] made a fuss about the packets of butter not being soft enough, despite [New Waitress] explaining that all the butter was kept cold for safety reasons. [Stepmother] made a snide remark about how [New Waitress] couldn’t wait five extra minutes to let the butter soften, which made [New Waitress] tear up. I was about ready to tell [Stepmother] off.

When our meals did arrive, [Stepmother] was quiet during the meal, not making comments. I was unsure what was going to happen. Either she really liked it (which I doubted, seeing as I’ve never seen her compliment anyone’s cooking whenever we’ve gone out) or she was planning some nasty barb (which I feared). When [Waitress] dropped off the bill, [Stepmother] took it before Dad could and said she was paying. Because I was sitting next to her, I saw that [Stepmother] left a big fat zero in the tip line and left a note, “It’s cute that American chefs think they’re good cooks when they’ve never stepped in a real kitchen before. Prove me wrong,” before closing the little book the receipt came in and hiding it so nobody else could see what she wrote.

I was pissed when I read that note and was about ready to slap [Stepmother]. I know that the chefs and servers who work at this particular diner learned their skills on the job and, if you ask me, they have every right to be as proud of their work as someone who went to culinary school would be.

I took out $100 using the ATM at the diner and gave it to the staff as a tip along with an apology for her behavior, embarrassed and angry. Fortunately, they didn’t hold it against us (except [Stepmother]) and told me that [Brother] and I were always welcome back.

I also decided I was going to get back at [Stepmother].

There was a benefit to this lockdown. During this time, bored out of our wits and wanting to better our skills, [Brother] and I have been binge-watching recipe and cooking how-to videos online and practicing. And while I don’t like bragging, I’d say we’ve become quite good. We know how to smoke our own bacon, cure corned beef, make creamy scrambled eggs, and bake flaky croissants… and that’s just a sampling.

When we got home, I told [Brother] my plan and he was grinning ear to ear.

The next day, while [Stepmother] and Dad still slept, [Brother] and I got up early and got right to work. We prepared scrambled eggs, home-cured bacon, biscuits, and a fruit salad.

Dad came downstairs first and [Brother] asked him to set the table. [Stepmother] came down as we were finishing up and sat down, not offering to help.

[Stepmother] commented that it smelled just like a restaurant she went to in France and she couldn’t wait to taste everything. [Brother] and I served plates for Dad and ourselves before putting everything away. [Stepmother] looked at us, confused.

I looked at her and said, “Oh, I thought you were going to a French cafe for breakfast. You did write on the receipt at the diner that you thought it was cute that Americans think they’re good cooks if they haven’t set foot in a real kitchen, and you wanted someone to prove you wrong.”

Dad looked at [Stepmother], his eyes wide, as all the color drained from [Stepmother]’s face.

“You wrote what?!” Dad said.

“Well, hop to it,” I said, sitting down. “Enjoy your French breakfast with your French chefs.”

[Stepmother]’s face reddened and she left. I don’t know if she was embarrassed or angry, but we were able to have a nice breakfast without any of [Stepmother]’s complaining.

She did come back after getting breakfast, and she was nice and quiet all day.

Dad and [Stepmother] were supposed to stay with us for a few days before I return to work next week. They left this morning… but not before they had a vicious argument last night after my brother and I went to bed. And when I say vicious, I mean it was so loud that we could hear every word. Thank God the neighbors couldn’t hear; otherwise, we might’ve had the cops called on us.

Dad chewed [Stepmother] out about what she wrote on the receipt and reminded her that she had promised him she’d be on her best behavior. After all, this restaurant was special, not just to [Brother] and me, but to Dad, as well. [Stepmother] defended her actions, saying that it was not what she likes, etc… until she finally blew up and revealed the real reason she threw that tantrum in the restaurant.

It turned out Dad was planning on surprising [Stepmother] on a trip to one of the best restaurants in town to celebrate the anniversary of their first date, which was yesterday. She had found the reservations by accident and thought they were going the night they arrived; he was planning on taking her in a couple of days to make it a real surprise.

Going to the greasy spoon instead of the super nice, expensive restaurant really upset her, and she thought he was catering to his kids instead of her. The argument finally ended when Dad took to the couch downstairs, fed up with her BS.

They left this morning. Dad told me before they left that he was going to have a serious talk with [Stepmother] about her behavior and that until she learned her manners, he is not going to take her out anymore, even to our place.

Hopefully, that will be either the wake-up call to [Stepmother] to behave… or to Dad that he should get out.

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