F-Bombed By An Ugly North American
It was like every soft-focus baby talcum powder commercial and Hollywood family fantasy had merged together, and we were the stars of the scene.
The baby, dressed in a pristine flouncy pink and white dress, finally old enough to run around without falling and hurting herself. Laughing (not too loudly) with a new-found playmate, leaving me and my dark and devastatingly handsome date to enjoy each others company in a garden restaurant with swathes of green grass, twinkling tea light candles, bright stars and cool-but-not-cold weather.
There was enough space between us and the carpark and between the carpark and the quiet road for me to relax. Miss M seemed to have finally outgrown her kamikaze hobby of barreling headlong towards traffic.
There was a fishpond, a garden feature that has been stressful for me in the past. But this one is surrounded by a small fence and a flower bed, so a toddler’s misstep won’t require a lifesaver. With no cold dunking possible, Miss M isn’t even interested in this pond, perhaps a sign her obsession with fish is coming to an end.
But even better — delicious Italian food, wine and attentive staff.
Before she ran off to play, Miss M – finally big enough to sit on a chair and feed herself – downed a reasonable amount of “noodles”, broccoli, chicken and some tomato. (She ate! Another dream come true.)
Darling Man and I were fresh from another visit to the amazing 700-year-old Wat Jed Yod and an impromptu blessing from a monk, who wrapped white cotton bands around our wrists while chanting something very serious-sounding.
It was perfect, perfect, perfect. And slightly amusing. Because here we are in northern Thailand, at an Italian restaurant.
But there was a fly in the ointment. And not a buzzing-quietly-cos-I’m-about-to-gasp-my-last-earthly-breath. No. This was one of those foghorn North American flies.
He was two tables away and yet every boring declaration was an assault on our personal space.
We were bombarded with every detail of his recent land purchase, of the last four movies he uploaded and his analysis of how he’s TripAdvisor’s best contributor ever. Whatever. We are trying to have dinner.
His salad arrived and we were subjected to loud complaints about how he’d ordered his salad with no anchovies.
Then the mains are served and what followed was incredibly painful.
“I ORDERED SALTIMBOCCA,” the guy whined as loud as an F1-11, and he sent back his dish.
After hearing more (unwanted) details of his recent land purchase, Mr North America was presented with his replacement dish.
“NO. I. ORDERED. SALTIMBOCCO.” His complaint as headache-inducing as the noise of an overloaded diesel truck labouring up the Himalaya. “The waitress looked me in the eye and repeated the order and this is not right. I ordered Saltimbocco. What’s so difficult? It’s on your menu.”
Waitresses came and went from Mr Complainy’s table, silently. And the rest of the restaurant was silent too. We just wanted to enjoy our food.
I couldn’t believe it when Mr Complainy ramped it up a notch. Actually several notches. He went nuclear.
He demanded to speak the manager. He shouted over and over again how he ordered FUCKING SALTIMBOCCO. The manager’s reply was too quiet to hear, as were the comments from the other people at his table.
Suddenly, the other male of the two dining couples up and left.”You’re making me feel very uncomfortable,” the other old American guy said, just within the audible range.
“OH, NOW JOSEPH IS PISSED OFF,” Mr Complainy thundered. “THAT’S JUST FUCKING GREAT.”
He went on and on. His Thai wife tried to calm him and she got yelled at as well.
While his first complaints were about how he’d been coming to the restaurant for five years “AND NOW THEY’VE GOTTEN GOOD AND ALL FUCKED UP”, he upped the ante as the minutes wore on to how he’d been the restaurant’s best customer for seven years.
Joseph, the second American diner at the table, came back to the table briefly with his scantily-clad young female companion, but left again when the rant continued.
Shouts of “bring me the menu” and “I don’t want to eat here, bring me the bill” were followed by “this used to be the best Italian restuarant in Chiang Mai” and “I want to speak to the owner”.
His wife kept trying to calm him, but Mr Complainy wouldn’t be soothed. He kicked back his chair and marched out of the restaurant, standing at the entrance of the carpark with his arms crossed over his enormous stomach. Looking ridiculous in his black t-shirt and shorts and white hair and beard.
His poor wife, about 20 years his junior, paid the bill and scuttled after him. They walked off down the road with Mr Complainy throwing off loud “IT’S UNACCEPTABLE”, “BULLSHIT” and “I ORDERED FUCKING SALTIMBOCCO” comments over the hedge.
He finally faded into the distance and Darling Man and I began to unfreeze our screwed-up-in-agony faces. I’m not Asian and don’t quite get the concept of losing face. But this guy had really made a scene — he’d totally lost face.
“What a dick,” an Australian-accented voice said from the table next to us, breaking the tension and triggering a wave of giggles.
“Honestly, I came here for a nice meal,” the Aussie guy said. “Why do I have to listen to that?” And we made some new friends.
Between our two tables we agreed we felt really sorry for Mr Complainy’s wife.
As the manager cleared our table I felt like I had to say something to wipe away the horrible ickiness of Mr Complainy.
“Sorry about him,” I said. “Are you OK?”
The manager smiled and said yes.
“He does that every time he comes here,” she said.
And I apologized again. On behalf of all white people.
Mr Complainy had mentioned Toronto, so I’m not sure whether he was actually Canadian or American. But he was damn ugly. Inside and out.
21 Soi 5 Nimmanhaeminda Rd
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9 years ago