Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >
Nov 11, 2009 07:09 PM

When a guest brings his/her own SALT to a restaurant.

Not kidding, I took my family to a very nice upscale bistro for a special get together. My neanderthal brother reaches into his pocket and pulls out a couple paper packs (Like what you get at McDonalds) of SALT, and a plastic baggie of Lawry's seasoned salt!

He was passing it around the table, and asking everyone loudly if they needed "a salt packet or some Lawrys"

I wanted to crawl under the table and slink away. This was not an Olive Garden, this was the highest rated restaurant in my city. :(

Just to note:

This was a very special night for me, my father is terminally ill and has stage 4 cancer, he wanted to go out and celebrate his life with his family... and my knuckle dragger brother (who wore his grime covered work jeans and picked his teeth at the table) embarrassed my dad, who wore a suit to this dinner, one of only 4 times he has donned one since birth. My father raised all of us with very little money, but was very big on manners. I could tell my dad was ashamed of his son's lack of social etiquette, and I did tell my brother softly that he should not have brought the salt, or just kept his mouth shut and sprinkled it on his food on the sly. His response? VERY LOUDLY "Well I don't eat anything without Lawrys and salt, so deal with it."

He kept complaining the entire meal about everything, I think out of spite.

I don't care if my brother wants to ruin a $50 meal that HE pays for, but he was not the buyer, nor was he the celebrant. I don't think I am out of line, but he thinks I should have kept my mouth shut.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. oh gryphonskeeper, i'm so sorry for your situation, particularly regarding your father. forget the antics of your brother, and keep your focus on loving your dad while he's with you here on this earth. God bless you and your father.

    1 Reply
    1. re: alkapal

      Thank you for that, I guess I am feeling really low right now.... I appreciate this more than you know.

    2. Oh, boy. I can feel your pain.

      My mother has been carrying around a little vial of Stevia solution -- to sweeten her tea/coffee. She pulls it out in restaurants and attempts to show it off to anyone who'll look (waitstaff, bus-personnel, diners at neighboring tables).

      Now, it'd be one thing if this was a discreet little vial. It's not. It's a 3" tall dark amber bottle, equipped with a pretty serious-looking eye dropper. It has no label. It's downright creepy, as it looks just like what Hollywood prop men would come up with for the "mysterious vial full of poison." I'm certain that this bottle would scare the bejeezus out of anyone who's already paranoid that people would slip "something" into their drink/food.

      Mother doesn't wait until tea or coffee time to whip out the weird bottle. More often than not she'll ask for a glass of water and *extra* lemon. She then proceeds to make lemonade with that and sweeten it with a generous squirt of her Stevia liquid -- added drop-by-drop from "the bottle" with the eye-dropper. She will refuse to let us order regular lemonade for her. She pulls these stunts in order to get attention. Sadly, for my mother, negative attention is much better than no attention at all.

      I let my mom drive me crazy until I received some sage advice from a guy I knew only in passing -- a bartender at a restaurant I used to take mom to regularly. This guy said that all the time he sees people go crazy getting embarassed at the behavior of the folks they're dining with. There's no need to be embarassed so long as your own house is in order. To a normal, rational person, the gaffes of one person in a group do not reflect on the others in the group. A group's made up of *individuals.* And don't think that the other people in the restaurant care all that much, either.

      So what if your brother's wearing soiled jeans. I'm sure that the OP was dressed appropriately for the upscale meal they had. Others looking on will see the thoughtless boor in jeans; and another person at the table (the OP) who's dressed in a way that conveys self-respect. See, no reason to be embarassed. Just let others be responsible for their own choices/behavior. Don't assume any guilt or responsibility for them and you'll have a wonderful time.

      I'm certain that the diners surrounding the OP's table thought to themselves how patient the rest of the OP's table was being while her brother did his little salt routine -- and affirmed it loudly when confronted with his behavior.

      Since getting that little advice about how to deal with an embarassing dinner guest, it's been easier to put up with mom's attention-getting antics. When I go out and see a person at another table being troublesome to the rest of their party, I realize that I in no way think any less of anyone in the group -- except for the person being troublesome.

      Why don't we just laugh at these clueless, rude, troubled people? Let brother sprinkle Lawry's seasoned salt all over his ice cream, for all we care. Let my mom make lemonade. Nobody's going to think less of us. In fact, they'll probably think best of us that we can endure these folks and smile while doing it.

      I love the quote that's been equally attributed to Grace Kelly and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis: "Never complain. Never explain."

      4 Replies
      1. re: shaogo

        you know, i think it actually is worse when the "regular person" gets visibly upset with the behavior of the "different person."

        if i have an inkling to get "embarassed" by something my mom is doing (usually staring or making comments), i stop myself, and think of her advanced age, and think of how ridiculous it is for me to let such things bother me to the extent that i might want to scold.

        1. re: shaogo

          Grace and Jackie were the epitome of patience and grace. Maybe they are right, but what he did was so wrong.

          1. re: shaogo

            Unless the restaurant supplies Stevia, I don't see anything wrong with this. I regularly bring Splenda with me as not all restaurants provide it.

            1. re: PeterL

              +1. I have a little plastic container of splenda tablets.

          2. I don't think you're out of line, either, and I'm sorry your evening didn't turn out as well as you'd hoped. But know this:

            the restaurant has surely seen worse
            your dad will forget about the salt and remember being surrounded by his family
            comedy = tragedy + time. one day, this might just make you roll your eyes and smile

            2 Replies
            1. re: small h

              I hope so, because what I saw in my dads eyes was pure shame. :(

              1. re: gryphonskeeper

                I feel confident in saying that today, this sucks. Tomorrow, it will suck a little less. And if in three months you can't take a deep breath and say to yourself, alright, that was one sucky-ass meal, but it's starting to seem like an anecdote, then I will personally come over and punch your brother in the head. Note that I am small, and light, so I don't pack much of a wallop, but I will try, gryphonskeeper, I will try.

            2. Sorry, but what is your question? I reread this and still don't see a question so hard to respond to.

              7 Replies
              1. re: c oliver

                the crux of the situation is: Was I wrong to quietly chastise my brother for bringing Lawrys salt in a baggie, and paper packets of salt to a very nice dinner in a high and restro and too loudly ask others if they wanted some. Or was he wrong to do it.

                1. re: gryphonskeeper

                  IMO, yes and yes. You didn't accomplish anything, did you?

                    1. re: gryphonskeeper

                      I guess my point is that what could one accomplish? Especially at the time. Just makes it more awkward. As I age (62 and counting) I try more and more to turn these things loose.

                    2. re: c oliver

                      I agree. Two wrongs don't make a right, as they say. If your brother were a child that might learn from a quiet rebuke it might be productive, but an older person that knows better - what's the point? It just makes an unpleasant situation more so.

                      1. re: c oliver

                        I agree.

                        I would add that death and dying - like divorce, but much more so - often prompt (1) regressive behavior, (2) abupt changes in behavior, and (3) intensify odd behaviors. Especially in the family unit where a parent is dying. Unfortunately, too many people have read too many books and seen too many movies or TV shows where death brings out the best in people; often, it doesn't. Often, it just exposes the cracks and pain and missing pieces. Can one learn and grow from this exposure? Sometimes - perhaps often - but I hesitate to put that Hallmark card sentiment of Always on that one. Sometimes, things just are the way they are, and the most you can learn is that they are survivable.

                        All I can suggest to the OP is that: it's not about you or about your brother.

                        And I am happy that your father was able to attempt and pull off such an evening. That is what I would take away from the evening.

                        1. re: Karl S

                          This is so true. People deal with difficult situations like this in very strange ways at times.

                  1. first of all, i am very sorry that this happened. your brother should have had the sense to at least be somewhat discrete. but there is nothing you can or could have done about it.

                    as one of the priest's i know likes to say "it's never about what it's about."

                    your brother was determined to get his share of attention that night. you were determined to be aghast at his behavior. yes, he was being a boor. yes, you were justifiably upset. yes, saying something just escalated the situation.

                    wasn't it really supposed to be about your dad. couldn't you have just turned it into an amusing situation... 'dad, you certainly raised some characters, can't say we all came out of the same mold."

                    Easy to say after the fact, and it comes from a couple of experiences i have had (piling up dishes on the table, blowing a nose into a napkin, eating off someone elses plate from across the table and dripping food the whole reach back.)

                    If you really needed to say something, the time to do it would have been after the meal was over. just the two of you. you backed him into a corner in a public place, seems like normal sibling behavior for him to push back.

                    you both knew better, thats why you are still upset. it doesn't make you a horrible person, nor does an apparent lack of manners make your brother a horrible person. learn and move on.