Okay, so picture this. My daughter and I were at our favorite pizza joint in the world. I’m not going to mention names (*cough cough* Ledo’s). Our mouths were watering for the best pizza and bread sticks in the world. Not that there is ever really a BAD pizza, is there? Even a bad pizza still beats a celery stick any day of the week, but I digress.
My daughter…my 18-year-old daughter… had decided to add a Caesar Salad to her order.
Before I go any further in my traumatizing Caesar Salad tale, let me explain.
This girl loves Caesar Salad. She has had every Caesar Salad in every restaurant in the state. She eats Caesar Salad with the same gusto that I have when I eat hot fudge sundaes. So, you can imagine her love for Caesar Salad. She has downloaded every recipe for every dressing she sees on Facebook. She was given a restraining order from the Kellogg Company because of her suggestion for Frosted Caesar Salads, part of a balanced breakfast. Her first child will be named Caesar, and rumor has it, she is trying to find a man with the last name Salad. When she went to donate blood, she was told by the Red Cross that her blood was 90% Caesar dressing and she could not donate. She was crushed. My child has never met a crouton she didn’t like, although she does have her favorites on the salad itself. She definitely knows what is acceptable and not acceptable in the world of salads. She has a tattoo that proudly proclaims, “I will let no lettuce remain behind.” Okay, so I made that last one up. But she does WANT the tattoo.
In short, my daughter is a Caesar Salad connoisseur.
The waitress brought the salad and set it in front of her. My daughter paid proper homage to the gods of salads, and then picked up her plastic cup of dressing. Eyes full of anticipation, she poured the dressing. Or, rather, TRIED to pour the dressing. The dressing was so thick it stuck to the container. She used an ice pick to chip it out. Once it was sitting in a congealed glob of goo on top of the salad, she gamely picked up her fork and tried it. To the horror of every Caesar Salad addict in the world, this dressing wasn’t even chilled. Still, my daughter would not…could not…be deterred. “There are no bad salads,” she proclaimed, “they are just misunderstood.” I watched in horror as she lifted the play dough covered crouton to her lips. She is the bravest girl I have ever known.
This girl put her fork down delicately, and to my utter amazement pushed the bowl aside. She wasn’t sure what was in the silly-putty-like dressing, but she suspected it could have been expired yak milk and Gorilla Glue. The meal continued, and at the end of the meal, the waitress brought out boxes for the leftover pizza. She had a separate box for the salad, which by now had crawled out of the bowl and was making its way slowly towards me. I firmly but gently tell the waitress that the salad scared me, as it was then staring at me menacingly.
My daughter, being a nicer person than me, didn’t want to complaint. I had no such issue because, well, I’m me. “That salad was a little off, and I suspect it is plotting our murder,” I told the waitress. She apologized, and skipped merrily off to get our check. When she returned, I saw that she was charging us for the uneaten blob that had by now swallowed the salt shaker. Not one to make a huge fuss, and having already made the salad’s nefarious agenda to take over the restaurant known, I whipped out my credit card and paid for our meal.
Suddenly, we were accosted by a sweet looking fatherly type of gentleman. He cornered my shy daughter in the booth and demanded – demanded – to know what was wrong with the salad. So much for fatherly.
My sweet daughter had been so bitterly disappointed by her salad experience that she stood up for herself, despite being a non-confrontational type. She was speaking up for salads everywhere as she informed him, “The dressing tasted off. I think it may have spoiled. I didn’t trust it enough to eat it.”
The man harrumphed like Ebeneezer Scrooge. If he’d have had a well-oiled handlebar mustache, he might have started twirling the ends of it. “Young lady, have you ever had OUR Caesar Salad? Have you ever even HAD any Caesar Salad before? It’s supposed to taste like that. It should have a bite to it. I think you just don’t understand the type of dressing it is…” His tone was condescending and accusatory at the same time, a nun scolding a student for texting in class. “In fact,” he continued, “I had a bite of the dressing in the back, and it tasted just fine to me.” At this point, it’s not entirely clear if he ate my daughter’s salad or had some from the kitchen, but that’s not important now. His performance was beginning to draw a crowd as he continued treating my daughter like a puppy who chewed a shoe. “Do you even know what a Caesar Salad should taste like?” he asked disdainfully. This man could have been a manager, or the owner, or some homeless fellow who wandered in off the street for all we knew at that point. He definitely took things to a whole different level. He was dismissing her not only as both a customer, but as a thinking adult with common sense.
Having gotten past my initial shock at his take on this situation, I stepped in and told him that my daughter was very much aware of what a Caesar Salad should taste like and theirs was bordering on cruelty to customers. (I may have been a little nicer than that, but not much.)
We walked out with a coupon for a free pizza, but the salad was still charged on the bill. I wasn’t even questioning the charge, had no plans to do so, so I am unclear why this man took this all so personally. Perhaps this was a long lost (with good reason) family recipe? All he needed to do was simply say, “I’m sorry you didn’t care for the salad.” Instead, he made a huge fuss and belittled my daughter.
On the way home my daughter and I discussed this, and mutually decided that we would rather drive the extra twenty miles to the Ledo’s in the next town over, rather than go back in that store because of the manager’s attitude. We couldn’t help but wonder if he would have treated her the same way if she was a male. Any girl who has wandered into Home Depot looking for caulk knows the look, the attitude, and the condescending tone I am talking about. This man definitely seemed to be “mansplaining.” It was uncalled for and, truth be told, more than a little insulting. I sincerely hope he is just a jerk with everyone, and not just the “little ladies” that come into his store.
Enjoy your arrogance, sir, and enjoy it alone. Here are two less “little ladies” that will be putting money in your pocket.