Monday, October 17, 2011

Trouble in Cincinatti - Circa 1980's

I had met a doctor from a small town in Indiana while he was at a medical conference in San Francisco. He had flown me out to the Midwest for a long weekend over Columbus Day that year. We had road tripped visiting Indianapolis, Nashville, Indiana, an old artists community, and, for the first time, Chicago, now my home of the last 27 years. I contacted him to let him know that I would be in Ohio during the holidays and he consented to take the 4 hour drive and come to Cincinnati over the weekend we would be there. We had asked my roommates friends, prior to them leaving for Mexico City, for restaurant suggestions. They referred us to Delmonicos in the Stoffer hotel.

We drove into the city and met the doctor in his hotel room. He greeted us, asked where we were going for dinner and then lit a joint. My roommate rarely smoked pot but on this evening he said,"Oh, what the hell. Darling, give me that."

I knew we were headed for trouble.

We left the room and went downstairs to retrieve the doctor's car from the valet. He was told when he checked in, that this would take 20 minutes. He handed me cash, told us to order drinks in the bar and he would join us after he had ordered the car. The waitress brought our drinks. The doctor came into the bar slightly out of breath. "It only takes 5 minutes to get the car", he informed us. We looked at the drinks on the table, looked at each other, picked up the drinks and downed them like water.

I knew we were headed even deeper towards trouble.

My roommate surveyed the glasses, looked at the waitress and noted "She's gonna' faint when she sees how quickly we did that." We left the bar and walked down the long hall of the lobby.

Outside the doors of the hotel, waiting under the carriage entrance canopy, sat the car. It was brand new, long and black with lots of chrome. My roommate, unaccustomed to such rides, whispered to me "Is that the car?" "Shut up and get in the back seat", I hissed back. He did as he was told. Once on the road he discovered the light over the touring window in the back seat. "I'm going to turn this light on, just in case we see anyone I know", he said, flicking the switch and taking on his grandest air as he peered out the window at the ordinary people in their ordinary cars.

Trouble, trouble, trouble.

Upon arriving at Delmonicos we were seated by ourselves, off in a corner of the restaurant at a table overlooking Cincinnati's landmark Fountain Square. From behind the floor to ceiling windows we returned the waves of the people in the horse drawn hay wagons and carriages, decorated for the season, that circled the square.

A stiffbacked, snobby somolier was the first to approach us. Goodlooking, gay and insufferably uppity, he took our drink orders and left the wine list for us. My date had informed us early on that this dinner was to be his Christmas treat to us.

The waiter appeared. Also gay, also goodlooking with sandy brown hair, his fingers sporting numerous rings. After taking the order for his entree he asked my roommate "Would you like a salad with that?" To which my roommate replied "Could I wear it as a hat?" The waiter, not missing a beat, suggested "If you tilted it to the left it might look very smart."

The trouble had begun, the waiter appearing ready to aide and abet it.

Excellent, expensive wine was served, along with appetizers and an outstanding creme based soup. My date excused himself to go to the men's room giving me my opportunity to quiz my roommate,"What do you think of him." "He's nice", my roommate answered in a noncommittal fashion. "No really", I pressed. My roommate paused a moment, then stated, "How can I talk about a man who is paying for this meal?" Between the pot and the alcohol this struck both of us as extremely funny and we burst into peals of laughter., We had somewhat collected ourselves by the time my date returned to the table.

Our raucous, rowdy verging on inappropriate behavior during the course of the meal cannot be overstated. It reached it's zenith at 2 points. Once when my roommate asked the waiter for directions to the "vomitorium". Second when my date stated loudly, "I want more wine", and brought his glass down on the table with more force than was wise as the stem broke in half in his hand.

The waiter quickly replaced the glass and we watched the somoliers aforementioned snobby veneer crack as he approached the table, stared down at my date and in a flat, even, scolding tone said "You broke the glass?" Laughter often begets laughter and this statement made us laugh some more.

We composed ourselves enough by the end of the meal to apologize to the waiter for any embarrassment we may have caused him. He set our minds at rest by stating "This is just the way I am when I go out."

For dessert we ordered crepes which were prepared tableside. As we were the last guests left the waiter sat with us as the crepes were made. We learned that he was an actor, although where he would have plied this trade in Cincinnati remains a mystery to me, and waited tables when he was not working in his preferred profession.

It remains one of the most expensive meals I have ever had. Although me and my roommate had no idea what the final tab was the liquor and wine bill came to $250, a considerable sum at the time.


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