One small, sweet gesture

By Judy Berman

Bad experiences often consume us, overriding more memorable moments.

I thought of that as Dave and I recently celebrated our wedding anniversary. On one trip years ago, we had such a good time that we were really sad when we had to pack up and return home. On another, I felt as if we were hustled onto a runaway train straddling rickety rails and our luggage thrown on as an afterthought.

The difference between the two? The service when dining out.

We were in Montreal once before and the service, the people, and the experience was fantastic. But, on this trip … well, maybe it was something in the water.

We’d hoofed around the city, doing the tourist thing. As it got closer to dinnertime, we checked our guidebook for a good restaurant in the area.

Struck out on our first choice. The maitre d’, who reminded me of the snooty waiter in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” told us they were booked. I looked around the restaurant. It was still early. The tables were empty.

Maybe, their customers were all just around the corner, getting out of their limos, and about to rush the restaurant.

We walked a bit more and found another place that had a good rating in the guidebook. It didn’t mention a dress code. Nor were reservations required.

The maitre d’ at the second restaurant eyed us disdainfully when we said we didn’t have a reservation. He sniffed as he ushered us to a corner table and said we had to be done by 7 p.m. It was 5:30.

We should have taken the cue and left. But our hunger outweighed our good sense. When we got the menu … trouble.

It wasn’t in English and there were no prices next to the food. I have no idea what we ordered for dinner as we ate with one eye on the clock.

We asked about dessert. The waiter glanced pointedly at his watch. No time. Not even for a leisurely cup of coffee.

The last American to get good service there was probably Princess Grace.

Franco-American relations took a brief tumble after that trip. Fortunately, we recovered our sense of humor. We lived near the U.S.-Canadian border at the time and made several more trips there that were delightful. That helped put that distasteful experience in our rearview mirror.

About a year later, we were headed to Watkins Glen State Park. We stopped at the Showboat Restaurant on Seneca Lake.

At the restaurant, the bartender discovered it was our anniversary. After a teensy bit of prodding, he found we loved Boston cream pie.

A short while later, the bartender emerged from the kitchen. He had a slice of that cake and the candle on top was lit. Then he encouraged the rest of those dining and drinking there to join him in singing us a song to celebrate our special day.

Little did he realize, he had me at the cake. That small, sweet gesture was just the right touch. My husband and I sat around eating, chatting and swapping stories with the other customers.

The next morning, there was no question where we’d go for breakfast. We headed back to the Showboat Restaurant and made some new friends and great memories while we were there.

One gracious gesture built good will, and a sweet memory that I replay again and again.

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This post marks the first anniversary of my blog. A special thanks to my husband, Dave, for editing my posts. Thank you to all who have left thoughtful and/or funny comments, who “follow” me, and who have given me your support and encouragement.

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COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-14. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider, earth-rider.com, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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* Main Photo: Montreal – A fountain lit up by colorful lights at night in Old Montreal. Taken by Jacquie Atamanuk in July 2006. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/9/9d/Foundtain-Old-Montreal.jpg/450px-Foundtain-Old-Montreal.jpg

* Photo: Watkins Glen State Park – taken Sept. 2007 by Amerikaan314 at en.wikipedia   http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/ad/Watkins_Glen_State_Park_pano_6.jpg/640px-Watkins_Glen_State_Park_pano_6.jpg

* Video clip from “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” – the snooty waiter (played by Jonathan Schmock)  and Abe Froman (Matthew Broderick posing as the sausage king of Chicago to gain entry to the upscale restaurant, Chez Quis Maitre D’)

BUELLER? BUELLER?

By Judy Berman

Playing hooky. Taking a mental health day off from work. Did you ever wish you played it like Ferris Bueller? Breaking all the rules. Cool, charming and utterly over-the-top outrageous. That escapism appeals to me.

What would that innocent-looking scamp be up to today? Maybe he’d kick it up a notch when he ditches work.

A short clip of an ad that will run during the Super Bowl on Feb. 5th is already teasing the audience about the prospects of a grown-up Bueller. Matthew Broderick, who played Ferris in John Hughes’ 1986 film, will be 50 in March. (The complete ad was released Monday, Jan. 30th, after I wrote this. Its link has been added below.)

Broderick is at it again. Just like Bueller did in the opening of the movie, Broderick opens the curtains and looks directly at the camera. He confides to the audience, “How can I handle work on a day like today?”

I skipped work once when I was about 21 at my first job. Like Bueller, I also headed downtown. No, I didn’t jump on a parade float as Ferris did and serenade the crowd with Wayne Newton’s “Danke Schoen” or The Beatles’ version of “Twist and Shout.”

But there was a crowd. It was lunchtime, and among those milling about the shoppers was my boss – an older gent.

We briefly exchanged glances. I had on shades and a white winter parka. I continued walking with my friends, hoping – no, fervently praying – that he’d think he must be mistaken.

When I returned to work the next day, my boss never quizzed me about my absence. We never talked about this. But I didn’t repeat that escapade ever again in ANY of my jobs.

I still aspire to be Ferris, to have his savoir faire in dealing with a snooty waiter at an exclusive restaurant. Or in putting one over on the school dean as Ferris did to his, Edward R. Rooney, played by Jeffrey Jones. Rooney is bound and determined to catch Ferris and end the teen’s deception once and for all.

Ferris wasn’t the only one in the film milking an opportunity. He convinced his best friend, Cameron (Alan Ruck), to let him borrow his Dad’s prized convertible, a 1961 Ferrari GT California. (“The insert shots of the Ferrari were of the real 250 GT California,” Hughes explains in a DVD commentary, according to Wikipedia. “The cars we used in the wide shots were obviously reproductions. There were only 100 of these cars, so it was way too expensive to destroy.”)

Someone as devious as Ferris couldn’t wait to get his hands on that hot convertible’s steering wheel. The teens – Ferris, Cameron and Ferris’ girlfriend, Sloane Peterson (played by Mia Sara) – dropped the car off at a parking garage. Then, a scheme worthy of Ferris quickly unfolded. Ferris and friends barely had their backs turned when the garage attendants peeled out of the garage and took the rare car for a joy ride. As they did, Yello’s “Oh, Yeah” blared thru the streets.

An enviable heist. It was returned unharmed. But the garage attendants had racked up several hundred miles on the odometer.

Ferris, whatever you might be up to, I hope it’s another glorious romp. If it is, I’d love to be along for the ride.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-14. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider, earth-rider.com, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Photo: of Matthew Broderick as Ferris Bueller

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferris_Bueller

Yello’s “Oh, Yeah” music video:

http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=Yello+Oh+Yeah+Ferris+Bueller+video&mid=EAB5AA7D103A829F7731EAB5AA7D103A829F7731&view=detail&FORM=VIRE1

The full ad was revealed Monday, Jan. 30th. (This is in no way an endorsement of any product. The reveal is just to show you what will be on Super Bowl on Sunday that was the subject of my original blog.)

http://tv.msn.com/tv/article.aspx?news=699644