They descended en mass, a plague of locusts, a ravenous school of pirhana, the bane of modern civilization: con-goers. The ravening horde, drawn in by the lure of Emerald City Comic-Con, shambled their way to the center of Seattle, many in their ritual garments known as “cosplay”. I should know, I was among them. Though only one of the many, I added my fervor to the gestalt and we built among us a terrible greatness.
Then they ate my goddamn cake.
Let me back up a little. My day at the con itself was exhausting and exhilarating; my friends and I ran around in cosplay, took pictures with and of other people, went to panels, saw geeky celebrities and pseudo-celebs…it was great! But then as the day wound down to a close, we hit the same problem as everyone else, in that there was suddenly a mass exodus of hungry nerds. There was no question of even trying the restaurants in the block around the convention center, that would’ve just been suicide by starvation. So we walked a ways, far enough out that we thought we’d escaped the horrible crushing throngs. In this we mostly succeeded. The wait time at the place we chose was under an hour, it was busy but seemingly not in panicked chaos mode.
Like the Nazi at the end of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, we chose…poorly. There were five of us last night, and in the grand tradition of this blog, I’ll refer to each of them with code names. In clockwise order at the table, it was The Princess, Theodora, The Outsider and Phil. No Phil, you don’t get a code name. Because of that joke about not being my friend. This is what happens. And to The Outsider, please do not worry, your name has a reason, it’ll be explained, and isn’t meant as an insult. If I’d meant it pejoratively, I’d have gone with your name, à la Phil.
It wasn’t long before things started to go off the rails. The waiter came over, took our orders, and gave us some bread; there is nothing bad I can say about either him or the bread. But some time later, when our food was still only theoretical, he came back around with more bread and his apologies, as the party of forty in the back room had slowed everything down a bit. A quick walk by the door showed that yep, the back room held a tremendous mass of fellow con-goers, jerks who’d had the nerve to think ahead and reserve out a fifth of the restaurant. Still, we had more bread to occupy us, and assurances that our meals would be out soon. So so soon.
True to his word, the waiter returned a few minutes later with food all around. I was elated by the sandwich they’d created, and was soon sated. But the rest were not all so fortunate. To my right, Phil was doing fine with his meal, but to my left The Princess in her elegant dress was upset by the presence of mayo on her sandwich, where she’d clearly asked for none. No problem though! The waiter whisked it away. Also, The Outsider’s flatbread thing looked delicious, but the restaurant had run out of quinoa, and could they suggest the mashed potatoes instead?
So there Phil and I were, horking down our meals while The Princess subsisted on my fries, when Theodora noticed that while her jambalaya was tasty, it was completely lacking in the sausages that were supposed to be the signature ingredient. We pointed that out the next time the waiter came by, this time carrying an extra side of fries, since The Princess’ sandwich seemed to have go astray, ending up at the wrong table. The poor harried fellow was very apologetic, and insisted on fetching over the manager, who was more so. He came over with a cup of soup to tide The Princess over with something other than carbohydrates, and then came back just a minute later with good news and bad.
I figured, what the hell, have him start with the bad news. It turned out that The Outsider had yet to get her mashed potatoes (which were the substitute for the AWOL quinoa) because they were fresh out of those too. Even worse, their last non-french fry side option, rice, was likewise kaput. So you see, The Outsider was literally out of sides. I make no apologies.
The good news was that all of our food was to be comped, even for those of us whose food had been sans issue, ie Phil and Yours Truly. He then dashed away, promising The Princess that her sandwich was being made, without mayo, by the Sous Chef himself and would be out right away. Presto! A minute later the sandwich appeared, a mere hour into our dinner. Again, the manager came over to make profuse apologies, and this time went for humor. Normally, he said, when things went this wrong, he’d offer us some free dessert in the form of chocolate cake. Unfortunately, so many things had gone wrong for so many people that night that…welllll…they were now entirely out of cake too.
Up until that point, I’d been fine. Hell, my dinner had been delicious, our food was going to be free, and I was out with a bunch of friends. But now I’d had free cake dangled in front of me, only to have the dream dashed. I was upset enough to start mixing metaphors, and somehow I knew, knew! that those forty schmucks in the back room were to blame. This is when The Princess broke in on my thoughts, declaring that while she was happy to finally have her sandwich, she’s been grazing on free bread and garlic fries for an hour now, and was actually pretty full. So she needed two things, a box, and champagne. Fancy champagne. Since everything up to that point had been stricken from our bill, we all chipped in for a rather fancy bottle of champagne indeed.
Then I broke my glass. Not the one filled with champagne, I didn’t let that go to waste. But when Theodora noted that I’d been laughing about the whole debacle, and wondered what would we could get for free if I looked upset too, I made a terribly wounded face and in attempting to put an oh-woe-is-me back of the hand to my forehead somehow managed to smash my water glass. This made me actually a little upset, since I didn’t want to be rude to the poor waiter (who kept coming by to check that we were doing all right), and it was a good five minutes later that I realized I could’ve shouted “I LIKE THIS DRINK, BRING ME ANOTHER!” and gone for a Thorish cover to my enervated, inebriated clumsiness.
But we had good champagne, and all in all it was a silly end to a ridiculous day, so how could we complain? Except about those cake-stealing jackasses across the restaurant. Some things you can just never forgive.