Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Table d'Hôte

Table d'Hôte

If life were a restaurant, I guess things would be a whole lot easier.

Some flamboyant waiter would swagger by your table, and you could order all your hopes and dreams à la carte.

Instead of a cocktail or a glass of wine, you might ask for a decent childhood, a time when good friends managed to outlast the teenage years and remain true friends for the rest of your life, a time when you were encouraged to get a good education so that today you could have the job you love, a time when you had maybe only two parents, who loved and respected you as well as one another.

For an appetizer, you might skip the garden salad with the garlic croutons and select a high school or college romance that was both passionate and uplifting, someone who accepted you for all your faults, someone who didn't compound all those early life insecurities by adding his or her own troubles to the fire.

For your main course? Well, after you skim through the various specials, you might consider the full-marriage-deal, preferably to someone you could trust to be constant. Add to that a side dish of having a child or two, kids who are well-behaved and who will love you far beyond the day they walk out the door. And just think ... if somehow everything turned out to be moody and sour, you could just send the whole plate back to kitchen for a complimentary substitute instead of undergoing a messy and expensive divorce

For dessert, you might order up an early retirement, flambéd by your table with a decent pension plan topping. Want a cherry on top? Have a grandchild or two.

And last but not least, forgo that after-dinner liqueur for some golden years of good health, for a time when you remain conscious of who you are and where you live. Sidestep the brandy of dementia, use your napkin to dab the smug look of feeling full off your face, and don't forget to leave a good tip.

If only life were like that ... a menu of choices that you make for yourself to celebrate who you are and what you want from your life. If only we didn't spend so much of our lives, so much of out time and energy, trying to make ourselves acceptable to other people. If only we didn't make choices based on what we think someone else wants. In my imaginary restaurant, everyone makes his or her own choices. You don't get to order for the entire table, and no one else gets to order for you.

Sadly, in real life, you don't always get what you ordered. You hope for stroganoff, and you get Beefaroni instead. You dream about cherry cheese cake, and you wake up to Pop-Tarts. You want rich cream in your coffee, but you settle for powdery Coffee-Mate. A four course meal sounds marvellous, but not when those four courses are simply four different little compartments in a plastic TV dinner.

Real life isn't a restaurant, not even barely a drive-thru. Oh, we get to make make choices once in a while, but usually we are left scrambling our eggs trying to deal with the slop some mad, cosmic chef throws on our plates. Sometimes it's our slop; sometimes it's other peoples slop. It doesn't matter who owns it because, after all is said and done, we are expected to clean it up. It's as if real life tries to determine whether or not we can digest the horrors of one day's experience and wake up the next day still hungry for breakfast.

Oh, my poor tummy. Pass the Alka-Seltzer, would ya?



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