arteejee

A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Sunday, June 17, 2012

I Survived a Dinner At Dick’s, Or The Long Mixed Weekend, Part Two


So, to recap the Adventures of Arteejee in Charm City, our long weekend in Baltimore was complicated by a dysfunctional rail system; a clueless Camden Yards attendant who seated us in the wrong seats in the wrong row in the wrong section (but nobody noticed or cared); and a major league team who for the last five seasons have reigned on top of their division but this year cannot play ball out of the division basement as if their multi-million dollar paychecks depended on it.

Once back at out hotel room, we gathered out wits, used the facilities, bitched about the travesty we just witnessed at Camden Yards, and discussed out dining options for the evening. We immediately ruled out the hotel dining room, since we figured we would be eating breakfast there. Anne Marie and I perused the hotel booklet of local eateries, and we decided on a few choices between us and the Power Plant at the Inner Harbor. We decided to make the four-block walk towards the Inner Harbor and if something caught our appetites, then we would stop. If not, we would walk on.

We glanced at the menu posted outside our first choice and decided that it was too chi-chi for our mood. We walked on past the World Trade Center, the Baltimore Aquarium, and finally arrived at the Power Plant, which at one time generated electrical power for the city but now generates tourist dollars for the local economy. The building houses at least six restaurants and a book store.
 
Our first choice here, a small local seafood chain renowned for its crab cakes, had a waiting time of 90 minutes. This would mean we might be eating our meal no earlier than 8:30; too late for our established meal schedule. If we eat too late, we don’t sleep well, and if we don’t sleep well then we run the risk of writing cranky blog entries about the failures of a certain national railroad to get us to another city on time for a baseball game where (natch) our team loses the game, which makes us even crankier.

We push on past the seafood chain, past the rock and roll peace and love chain, and decide to enter the world of Dick’s Last Resort (http://www.dickslastresort.com).  How best to describe Dick’s? A good start is that it is a restaurant with ATTITUDE, and even capitalizing the word ATTITUDE is an understatement. The hostess advised (no, perhaps warned would be a better word) that they serve their customers with sarcasm. The tone is probably best captured with a sign posted at the bar which reads, “Sorry, we’re open.”

Indeed, the company logo - that of a grizzled, possibly middle-aged bartender scowling at you from his post, which you are led to believe is somewhere near a beach of an island thousands of miles from any of the world’s recognized continents - should be another clue as to what is in store the hapless diner. The beachside atmosphere is emphasized with fake palm trees, wait stations constructed to look like a desert isle outpost built from bamboo and palm leaves, and a floor littered with napkins, as if you and your fellow diners had brought them in from the beach on the bottom of your sandal-clad soles. Dick’s is not your typical greasy spoon diner. It’s a greasy everything diner! The ambience is definitely sloppy.

Once seated at your table, your waiter will come over, throw the appetizer and drink menu in your direction, and shout over the loud rock music what selections are being offered that day. You have to pay attention to what he says: there are no formal printed menus. Entrees are listed on chalkboards, but are not always available. If you dare to ask for something which he has already told you they are out of, be prepared to get your head slapped with the appetizer card.

Dick’s drinks, ranging from soft drinks to beer to tropical style cocktails, can be served in front of you, or at a neighboring table at the waiter’s convenience. The waiter will tell you where your drinks are, before he turns and walks away. Oh yes, he might also throw the straws you requested at you, and then walk away.

Our dining companions at the long table where we were seated - a single woman out on the town with her godmother - were alternately puzzled, bemused, and finally amused at the chaos around them. One of them voiced the idea that many places you may become victim of waitstaff inattention, where you go through extended periods during your meal without seeing your waiter. Here, though, you make actually fear that your waiter will return.

Alas, he does, and banters with each of us before he takes our orders. On my choice of wearing a Hawaiian shirt, he wanted to know what the hell I was doing wearing a Hawaiian shirt if I had never been to Hawaii. (My answer: Haband was offering a good price.) He also perceived that Anne Marie was not wearing a bra. She admitted to him, confidentially, that she hasn’t worn a bra since 1977. At this, our waiter made a beeline for his manager, and we soon learned that no secret is kept confidential at Dick’s Last Resort for very long.

Within moments a male voice announced over the restaurant intercom system, “Where’s the lady who hasn’t worn a bra since 1977?” Anne Marie obliged - perhaps too enthusiastically - by waving both arms in the air. Her public admission was greeted with cheers and applause from the other diners; although I was surprised that the restaurant didn’t shine a spotlight on her as well.

Management humiliates their customers further by writing crude, double-entendre style labels on sheets of paper which are then rolled up and fashioned into a hat, which is placed on the diner’s head. Anne Marie’s hat read, “Ex-pole dancer”. My hat had the words, “I’m the ex-pole”.

Our food - we opted for a variety of finger food style appetizers - arrived. The selections range from deep-fried snacks, to sandwiches, to entrees, none of which I would call Weight Watcher* friendly. We had wings, crab balls, and I had a bucket—an actual bucket—of cocktail shrimp. One of our dining companion's order unfortunately required the use of utensils. A few gentle reminders to our waiter that she needed utensils brought down the wrath of our waiter on her, “ALRIGHT, I’M GETTING IT!”

Open-minded individuals will get the joke behind the concept that is Dick’s Last Resort. The staff is not your usual young college people trying to make a few extra bucks, but rather performers who audition for a gig here. We told our companions that Dick's has a lot in common with Chicago’s 1950’s style diner, Ed Debevic’s (http://www.eddebevics.com).

I would not normally believe that after the day I had - broken down trains, broken down baseball team - that I should be treated to such abuse, and what’s more enjoy the same. Yet that’s what happened: I had a great time at Dick’s.

Still, even the management this night in Baltimore did act graciously to those of us who were openly displaying our loyalty to the visiting baseball team. At one point, they announced over the intercom that the influx of out-of-town baseball fans broke all of their previous sales records for a weekend. Now THAT was a display of class which I doubt you won’t see at Dick’s for a long time to come.

*Insert copyright/trademark symbol here.

(Thank you for reading. Janey, if you ever get the urge to earn extra bucks waiting tables again, you may want to apply at Dick’s! Just kidding! I know your waiting days are long behind you. 

PS - Anne Marie, it’s been a week, dear. You can take your hat off now!)

13 Comments:

Anonymous Janey said...

Oh, where was Dick's when I was waiting tables? For I would have fit in well there...

Thanks for sharing your story!

Love,
Janey

June 18, 2012 at 8:36 AM  
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