GREY MUTTER: Having a meal at a restaurant is not something that comes easy to most people these days. Money is tight and eating out is a luxury that few can afford. Therefore it is important to me that when I do get to sit down at a restaurant or café that I enjoy the entire experience, writes Lance Fredericks.
HERE’S a useless bit of trivia to start the weekend: Apparently the longest word in the Oxford English Dictionary is a word made up of 45 letters. The word is the name for a type of lung disease caused by inhaling very fine silica particles.
The word itself: ‘pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis’, is one word that I will not be memorising in a hurry; I see no need to. I mean, when was the last time you met someone who suffered from pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis?
However, that’s not the longest English word that exists. That title goes to a word that has 189,819 letters and could take a very long time to pronounce. The word is the chemical name of ‘titin’ – the largest known protein. The word will not fit into a dictionary and starts off with ‘Methionylthreonylthreonylglutaminylarginyl …’ and ends with ‘… isoleucine’ with hundreds of thousands of characters in-between.
There is actually a video on YouTube where a young man reads the word in just under two hours, and he doesn’t take a single sip of water. Imagine trying to impress your date with your knowledge of chemistry and reciting this word from memory.
Look at it this way, although the relationship may be short, at least that date will be long.
Speaking of dating, I have some good … no, great … no, make that excellent news for introverts who find it hard to keep a conversation going during a first date. Being tongue-tied may not be such a bad thing … that is, if our connection with primates is – as scientists would have us believe – so close.
Have you heard of ‘howler monkeys’? These primates are said to be the loudest land animals on Earth. In full cry, an adult male can bellow at volumes of 140 decibels; the loud crack of a gunshot is that loud, now imagine that bang being sustained in a protracted mating howl.
Yes, it’s true, male howlers holler to advertise their sexual fitness, trying to impress females with their eardrum-rattling roars. It’s a show of force, I guess.
But here’s the twist: Recently scientists have discovered that the louder the monkey’s voice, the smaller the monkey’s … errr … ‘bits of choice’.
What I am trying to put as delicately as I can is that a team of researchers at Cambridge University compared the size of dozens of howler monkeys’ (uhm) testes with the animals’ voice boxes and found that there was “a negative correlation between decibel levels and testicular endowment”.
My attention was drawn to the article because friends often joke about how long my columns are, and how much I complain in my writing. I am sometimes asked, “So what are you going to complain about this week?”
Since reading the article about the howler monkeys, I cannot erase the image of me sitting in a tree bellowing about what dissatisfies me. After all, let’s face it, it’s easier to complain, gripe and moan than to be complimentary.
So, in the spirit of proving that I deserve to wear my big boy undies, I will attempt to quietly and graciously dish out a few compliments this week – without being too specific.
Having a meal at a restaurant is not something that comes easy to most people these days. Money is tight and eating out is a luxury that few can afford. Therefore it is important to me that when I do get to sit down at a restaurant or café that I enjoy the entire experience – and that’s why I read reviews before I commit.
I wouldn’t like to be on a date, a third of the way through reciting the chemical name for titin, only to discover that I don’t like the place!
However, reviews and star-ratings can be deceiving, so one has to read carefully and see what disgruntled customers gripe about.
One restaurant in our city, situated in an upstairs location and that serves the most delightful dolmades, has one or two scathing reviews on their profile. I read those reviews. One person slammed the restaurant because he could not find parking nearby; but note that there are three restaurants in the vicinity, all of which are very, very good too; which should explain the parking problem.
However, it must be said that there are other sparkling reviews for this particular establishment, and these are well deserved.
Then there’s another venue in Kimberley – also located somewhere upstairs – where I had a pretty unpleasant dining experience but through no fault of the restaurant … allow me to explain: The restaurant is new. They have a fine-dining area, a bistro and a cosy nook for private functions.
The food is amazing and I have to emphasise that the coffee is especially good. The staff have obviously been trained well; they not only know how to do their jobs, but they have been shown how to interact with and accommodate their guests and their foibles.
As we all know, guests can be difficult and unreasonable at times. And this is what I experienced when visiting the restaurant one day. A large group of diners was in the place and they were letting their hair down; having loud conversations and laughing at the top of their voices. I had endured a tough week, and I needed some peace, but I was being bombarded by these inconsiderate ‘neighbours’.
Even when someone from the restaurant went over and appealed to them to be more considerate of other guests, they insisted on their right to enjoy themselves as they saw fit, threatening to complain to management.
Now, if anyone gets the idea that howling, rude guests are a good enough reason to avoid this establishment, think again. Do not deny yourself the pleasure of experiencing a good meal and good service at pretty decent prices.
What I am trying to say is that it would also be a good thing if patrons realised that the world does not always revolve around ‘Planet-Me’ and were more considerate of other more reserved diners – within reason, of course. Some establishments do well with a bit of bustle.
I was at a dining establishment one evening where a group of children were having a ball running around and laughing out loud. I found it charming, amusing and delightful. The restaurant was a more casual establishment. Families were all around laughing, talking and just having a joyous time. The noise added to the enjoyment of the meal in this case.
However, in a more refined place, we should learn that enjoying oneself and behaving oneself simultaneously is not too much to ask.
And to answer the obvious question – No. Neither of these establishments bribed me to give them a recommendation. And I need to hastily add that Kimberley is peppered with good restaurants; where many of them fail, however, is in the fact that staff are sometimes, in my opinion, marginally under-trained, but this can be remedied.
Eish, I did it again, even when trying to compliment, I end up complaining. I guess my friends are right … I don’t deserve to wear these plus-sized pantaloons.
What an absolute howler on my part!