You remember what it felt like losing your virginity?
That anxious pressure bred from the need of desperately wanting to perform and entertain perfectly. People liken the feeling to butterflies in your stomach when in actuality it feels more like a giant black hole that sucked in an assortment of warring planets, death stars, light sabers, and maybe even a Millennium Falcon or two.
Well, having friends come visit you feels exactly like that. Only it’s worse because your lovers may come and go but your friends are always there. Always. Judging you. Forever. And ever. Never letting you forget or live any mistake down. The pressure of pleasing them, finding things they enjoy, and making them run back home screaming ‘BEST TIME EVER’ – it can be overwhelming.
Friday – AKA ‘Michelle’s Day’
It all started this past weekend when 4 of my closest college friends and I had our annual ‘Frank’s Friends’ reunion (so named after an inside joking involving a large plastic ghost, showers, hiding spots, taxis, and a sorority house). Since two of us reside in NYC, the other two flew from opposite sides of the country (Florida and California) to have the perfect weekend getaway in Manhattan.
The pressure was on my friend Michelle first as she was the host for Friday. She planned a low key night up near her apartment on the Upper West Side. We went for a scenic walk through the lovely residential neighborhood and not-so-covertly peeped through all the open windows to see the spacious interiors of the massive apartments we will never be able to afford (seriously I forgot that people actually have dining areas. With real tables. And even – ((gasp)) – place settings).
We made our way over to the restaurant Michelle recommended, Isabella’s, which is beautifully situated behind the Natural History Museum. It’s a popular spot that was bustling this particular Friday night and we didn’t have a reservation but all it took was one pitcher of sangria at the bar and our table was ready.
We were able to be seated on the outside patio on one of the nicest evenings so far this fall and we had a joyous time as our third round of drinks came and we sat around laughing about the same college antics we always talk about when we’re together.
Our contagious hilarity finally hit our waiter, Ronnie. He became a constant target of our zippy one-liners and by the end of the meal, he was fully involved in all our storytelling and even reciprocated with his own stories (just head there for Halloween dinner – he’ll be the one dressed as Ursula from the Little Mermaid and make sure you ask him about the calamari. I promise you won’t be disappointed with his answer).
Even the other waiters were getting in on the action and came up to us telling us to call Ronnie by his nickname – Ronce (like Beyonce) so we took it one step further and had ‘Bills Bills Bills’ playing on our iPhone as he walked back to the table.
It was a delicious Mediterranean meal at the type of place where the staff don’t mind if you linger and never try to rush you out. We were so full that we even refused dessert but 10 minutes later, Ronnie came out with a full bottle of champagne, pumpkin creme brulee, and a brownie sundae – all free of charge.
The evening went off without a hitch and we all agreed the restaurant offered wonderful hospitality and a great atmosphere. It left the out-of-towners with a great NYC experience. Point 1 goes to Michelle.
Saturday – AKA ‘My Day’
Michelle passed through her pressure-filled hosting night with flying colors. It was time to pass the baton on to me. I wasn’t worried. Nope, I cyber-stepped those black holes in my stomach with a tried and true plan. Where do I take them? Easy – my favorite place. Somewhere I go all the time and have never failed to have a good time. Ever.
I’ve sat at this West Village establishment* for birthdays, good-bye brunches, family visits, and even a ‘just because’ 4-hour long Sunday Funday. It’s the type of place that serves unlimited champagne cocktails and bloody marys and it’s perfectly acceptable to laugh loudly and be a tad bit obnoxious.
I had called ahead and made reservations for 1:30 and apparently that’s where it started to unravel.
Frank’s Friends’ 12 – Step Program to Getting Really Pissed Off
- 1:30 – Admit that you were powerless over public transportation woes when your friends show up a little late due to a bad taxi driver.
- 1:50 – Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves (known as ‘The Hostess’) could restore us to our sanity when she asked, “How many in your party again – 4? OK, you’re next”
- 2:02 – Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him when our ditsy hostess sat a party of 4 and then a party of 3 before us. We let Him take the wheel and then the hostess finally looked over at us and exclaimed ‘Oh, you guys!’ and then ran to the next room to check tables again.
- 2:18 – Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves and decided not to say the horrible things we were all thinking when we finally sat down at our table 48 minutes after our reservation time.
- 2:25 – Admitted to ourselves the exact nature of their wrongs when we went to order Strawberry Bellinis and they told us they had run out (easily could have been avoided if they had sat us down on time – more on the ‘bellini saga’ later).
- 2:40 – We were entirely ready to have God come and forcefully remove all the flaws of our terrible waiter when he still hadn’t brought us our first round of drinks 15 minutes after ordering them.
- 2:46 – Humbly asked God to remove our own shortcomings when we seriously contemplated challenging the waiter to a duel after he spilled soda water all over 2 of us.
- 2:52 – Made a list of all persons who had been harmed (namely the 4 of us) and became unwilling to try to make amends when we saw the waiter try to deliver our food to the hungry boys at the table next to us.
- 2:59 – Any hope of us forgiving the waiter and not causing him harm with our verbal abuse went out the window when he forgot our truffle fries and then a few minutes later delivered them to the wrong table (again) and the hungry boys actually ate them (I’m sure their blog post is going in a completely opposite direction than mine with all their free food).
- 3:42 – Continued to take inventory and let the waiter know how many wrongs he inflicted on us when our bill came and he charged us for the unlimited drink special even though he never came by to refill our glasses thus making it almost cheaper if we hadn’t have done the brunch special.
- 4:01 – Prayed for the waiter to have the power to carry out replacing the wrong with the right. Our hopes were high when he said “Ok we’ll bring you something to make up for the poor service”. Those hopes were quickly dashed when he brought over the truffle fries he had never given us in the first place as our ‘free thing’.
- 4:06 – As the result of these steps my friends were not very happy with me or my choice. Especially when upon leaving, my friend Whitney spotted a pretty pink cocktail and asked the waiter carrying it, “What is that?” in which he replied, “A strawberry bellini.” We couldn’t help but cry with laughter when she turned to us and exasperatedly said, “Well, I’ll Be Damned.”
Hey at least they liked the food and we eventually had to laugh at the ridiculous amount of stuff that kept going wrong. A well deserved victory to the number one NYC host (at least for now) – Michelle.
Have you ever been disappointed by your favorite local haunts? Let me know in the comments below!
*I decided not to name this establishment so as not to discourage anyone from visiting. For this one bad experience, I could easily post 20 great ones from this place. I just so happened to jinx myself talking it up to my friends so this post is for them!
**UPDATE – Ok so I’m naming this now – it’s De Santos. I have now been back 4 times since this post and it gets worse and worse. The new management team has run this place into the ground!
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