Sarcasm cost me twelve bucks tonight. That's right. Twelve bucks. But it was worth it. I value few things quite as much as a well honed sense of irony and this evening was an incredible object lesson for my kids in the cost of missing the sarcasm gene.
High up in the sierras is a special place. A place where the air is clean. The streets are well swept. The music is soothing, if unmemorable. The people are as white as the driven snow (apparently the sentry at the entrance way failed to deduce that we were Jews and let us through). And the waiters take things literally, because, how else could one take things? We call this land Squaw Village but, as my eldest pointed out, one might just as easily call it Duloc.
Squaw Village is not your average resort town. For one, it isn't a town. At best, it is a super mall with a gondola. In the winter, the Village is bustling with skiers hoping to relive the glories of the 1960 Olympics. How glorious were those Olympics? I have no idea. I wasn't even alive back then. Apparently they were sufficiently glorious to keep the Olympic torch burning some 46 years after the Olympics had moved on to other far more exotic places. Yet, like the Hanukkah candles, the Squaw Village Olympic torches burn on at the entrance way to the super mall, as if to say "we will celebrate our past glory until such time as we have some current glory -- perhaps at that time we will consider dowsing the flame that stands vigil over our present day mediocrity."
Despite its history of athleticism and pageantry, and despite serving as a refuge to gravity loving stick wearers to this day, Squaw Village in the summer is Disneyland without the rides. It is a destination without any destiny. What is left. A bad sports shop. A make your own candle store. Starbucks, of course. The Tiki Room. Oops, I'm sorry, wrong super mall. And an impressive array of ethnic cuisine to satisfy the hungriest of shoppers. They've got the Auld Dubliner pub, Mountain Nectar smoothie shop, Fireside Pizza Company next to ... yes ... the fire pit, and Mamasake sushi.
Now I suppose I should have known better than to go eat at a sushi restaurant in the mountains. Perhaps the only thing stupider would be to dine at a Red Lobster in Ohio, of which I am also guilty, believe it or not (and it wasn't pretty). But the kids are fans of Japanese food, so I was willing to overlook the "Raw at Squaw" surfboard in the window, suspend disbelief, and take my chances. We chose to sit on the patio where the view of the pristine mountains was only slightly obstructed by the bungee jumping rig. Our waiter came out to take our order and here's where I went wrong. I failed to notice the pen written reminder on his hand to "call your mother." No lie. It may have given me a sense of who I was dealing with. Then again, I probably would have taken it for irony. Turns out that "RON" are the only things that irony and moron have in common.
When RON came to take our order, I made the mistake of thinking he was a human being. I joked with my kids, in that stupid dad way you joke with kids, "you guys all want squid, right?" The kids groaned. To which I responded, "excellent, four squids." Not to be left out of this hard hitting hyjinx, Pamela added "count me in." I turned to RON and said "squid all around." The kids laughed. Pamela laughed. I laughed. RON said "OK, six squid" in that dead pan way one would say "six squid" if he was either a great waiter playing along or actually taking an order. When he brought out the edamame, he said "your six squid are coming right up," earning him my greater admiration and a better tip for continuing to play along with the joke. This guy was good. He cracked me up.
A short time later, another waiter arrived at our table with a plate of sushi and said "your Ika." I looked at him quizzically and waved him off. The only sushi we had ordered was the incredibly unadverturesome California Roll. He headed back inside. Pamela, faster on the uptake then I, looked at me and said "I think that's our squid." That was preposterous. I snickered at the prospect and dismissed it. But sure enough, the other waiter returned with the plate of sushi to remind me that I had ordered squid. I laughed and explained to him that when I had supposedly "ordered" squid, I had done so jokingly and never actually wanted squid for the kids. He seemed very confused but, since I would not allow him to leave the squid behind, he turned around and headed back into the restaurant with his tray of rejected fish. The whole table erupted in giggles. The only thing funnier than the prospect of the kids eating squid was it actually being delivered to the table.
Alas, our giggling was interrupted by the return of RON. He was angry. He explained to us that "when you order squid, I bring you squid." To him it seemed a very logical policy and he was frankly at a complete loss as to why we could possibly think any differently. I attempted to smooth things over by reassuring him that it was no problem at all and that I was sorry for any confusion. RON tromped back into the restaurant and we all giggled once more. However, RON quickly returned, this time plate of squid in hand. He instructed me that "you might as well eat this since I'm putting it on your bill." I assured him that there was no one at the table who was going to be eating squid and that he should take it back to the kitchen. Begrudgingly he, like the poor fool before him who had attempted to pawn his squid off on us, left squid in hand to the kitchen.
I wish I had some triumphant conclusion to this tale -- one in which RON's manager and I have a good laugh about the naivete of RON and he gives us a free desert for the inconvenience. Alas, instead, after the pleadings of Pamela and the kids to not make a scene (apparently they are under the impression that I have the capacity to make a scene), I simply paid the bill and headed to Ben and Jerry's. Unlike RON, the scooping girls at Ben and Jerry's lived up to my Disneyland expectations. They were no rocket scientists. But rest assured, had I ordered squid ice cream, they would not have handed me a cone of Phish Food and insisted that I pay.