4/12/10

Doggie Bottle

When I saw the woman doing it I really thought I was, well, not exactly hallucinating, but not correctly understanding what was occurring.  There, at the table next to me in a perfectly reputable restaurant--white tablecloths and everything--this well-coiffed woman in a beige suit was very carefully pouring the contents of her almost full martini glass into an empty, plastic Aquafina water bottle! After which she tucked it away in her purse. (I confess I immediately assumed it was a vodka martini.  I know I am prejudiced but I can’t help it.  I just can’t imagine a gin drinker doing that.)

Now, I realize the economy is bad and many people are living on a reduced income and therefore can’t afford to waste anything.  And of course all of us have, on occasion, taken home leftovers from a restaurant.   But just how far does the term “doggie bag” stretch?  Leftover wine, leftover milk?  Leftover salad dressing?  And isn’t it basically wrong not to have the waiter put your leftovers in a container, but instead just squirrel it away yourself?  Even though by far the weirdest thing was the fact that the beige-suited diner was “doggie-bagging” a liquid, to me a major indication that it was not kosher is that I couldn’t imagine ever asking a waiter to pack up an unconsumed drink.  And in a restaurant the waiter is like the teller at a bank.  He has to put it in the bag for you or somehow it’s stealing. 

People do have widely different ideas about what one is allowed to take home from dining out: A friend of mine told me she knows someone who routinely orders a second basket of bread, knowing that she is not going to need it, and then takes it home. When I worked as a waitress years ago I always had a few customers who saw nothing wrong with asking me to wrap up large amounts of the “all-you-can-eat” salad from the salad bar.  And I have heard about people endeavoring to procure not just their own but their dining companions’ uneaten portion of food “for the dog.”

It’s true that the average martini in New York costs a whopping $11, and perhaps after the first sip, the woman, realizing she was not in the martini mood, just couldn’t bare to see it go to waste.  But by the time it was carried home in warm plastic and then re-iced, the drink would not have been fit even for the hair of the dog.

3 comments:

  1. I don't drink alcohol (my taste buds evidently stopped maturing at age 6), so some of this blog entry—indeed, much of what I accidentally read about booze—soars way over my head. But I have to admit that when you first described the patron's martini-hoarding gambit, it struck me as a stroke of genius. However, my eternally sober brain cannot parse how you would know that plastic and re-icing makes a martini go bad unless you've experimented with the same salvaging techniques yourself, or how gin has earned its snobbish appeal over vodka (it all tastes like poison to me). I await your enlightenment.

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  2. You bring up interesting points, Brett. Miss Mingle prefers not to go into detail about her knowledge regarding the taste of gin in plastic bottles (suffice it to say it MAY have involved an Amtrak trip many years ago); as for the "genius" of the martini-hoarder, I think if you were a regular consumer of cocktails you would (unfortunately, perhaps) understand just what unusual behavior it is to order a hi-test drink like a martini and then not drink it. Perhaps my own fondness for martinis has led me to be rather more harsh on the woman in question than I should have been. Still, it struck me as truly bad form -- as well as a very expensive way to procure gin for home use.

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  3. I see. I thought the idea was that Miss Beige didn't want to be wasteful. You'd take home half a chicken parmigiana...why not a martini? (True, you'd never siphon a Diet Coke, but those don't cost six bucks.) I don't know why anti-wastefulness per se is in bad form, but then you could fill up several coliseums with what I don't know.

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