I am a woman in my mid-30s and a bit on the bigger side, especially after traveling long distances which usually leaves me a bit bloated for a few days. The weight is a thing I am working on, but it’s slow going. My partner and I had traveled across Germany for a family event and after said event, we decided to spend the evening with a good friend. Since he lives in the area, he picked an Italian restaurant for our dinner and the food was excellent.
Then the fun started:
We were sitting in the booth furthest from the door, with me by the wall, my partner across from me and our friend next to me by the aisle. The woman running the restaurant, came over to ask if we needed anything and we asked for the check. As is customary, she offered a drink on the house (usually Grappa, Ramazotti, etc.) and all three of us declined. She then singled me out and said something to the effect of, “Well, you’re not allowed anyway in your condition”. Note that I’d had the tomato soup with gin as starter and my empty wine glass was still standing right there in front of me! I couldn’t come up with a snappy/snarky/any reply at all, because I had a case of total brain freeze. She did say that when I sat down it had looked as if I was pregnant, then went to get the check and I hid under the hood of my jacket while the guys were what I can only describe as bemused.
The woman came back and said that being pregnant was a great thing to which I replied that my sisters had told me otherwise (actually, the worst they told me was about back pain, I just really did not want to have that conversation), but she still wouldn’t get the hint and leave me alone, she said she had loved being pregnant and that my mind would certainly be changed once I was pregnant myself to which I replied that I had no plans of having kids. This is something most people accept as a valid life choice and I usually put in a disclaimer that I reserve the right to change my mind, you know, when talking to people whose opinions actually matter to me. This woman proceeded to label me as a child hater which is definitely not the case, I love my niece and nephews to bits, I just don’t know that I would make a very good mother.
I tried to defend myself and I don’t even know why I felt the need to explain my life choices to a total stranger. This went unheard, because by then, she had told the friend sitting next to me that he’d just have to work on me a bit to change my mind. He told her that he had nothing to do with that, my partner was following the whole train wreck of a conversation with disbelief, but finally managed to get a word in and bring the conversation to the check that was lying on the table, asking the woman to leave us to figure out who owed how much. The total for the three of us was 69.60 EUR, we left 70 and left before anyone came back to the table to further comment on our lives. (Please note that usually we are generous tippers, but in Germany the servers do not have to rely on tips to make ends meet, tips are just a bonus for exceptional service and the way that woman brought our good times to a screeching halt – just, no.)
The woman never apologized for making assumptions and running her mouth, though she did run out the front door after us to thank us and wish us a good evening.
The evening ended with the three of us heading to a bar and the bar tender making me the “special version for bad mood” Long Island Iced Tea, getting my mood back up to silly and drowning the fat-shaming, the contact embarrassment and the “you’re inadequate as a woman, because you do not put your uterus to good use”-shaming in empty calories…
How and when could I or we have convinced the woman to shut up? Is that even possible with such a person? She was entirely tone deaf and reading moods at a table was obviously not her strong suit (which is kind of weird in a person running a restaurant) and she basically went off on a monologue in the middle of that without leaving us much if any room to get a word in. I really don’t feel that I have to defend any choice I make with regards to my own body and life to a complete stranger, but I am also the kind of person who can’t just tell a person to drop it with no room for argument. I could have just walked out once she went to get the check and left one or both of the guys to pay and sorted it all out later, but I could not imagine that someone working in service could be so obtuse and make her patrons so uncomfortable and continue a conversation that should have had her apologizing after voicing her first assumption. Also, the seating arrangements did not really lend themselves to a quick escape and for all I know, the woman would have cut me off to have the exact same conversation in the middle of the restaurant in front of the other patrons, but without the support at my table…
Next time we were up there, my partner’s parents suggested going to that same restaurant and I was very happy when we went somewhere else after I told my MIL the above story… 0110-19
I hate brain freeze. Why do the best snappy comebacks pop into your head hours later?
The restaurant owner made several major assumptions…1) that you were pregnant, and 2) that she the authority to reprimand or control your consumption of alcohol while pregnant. You don’t need some new and snappy comeback. Recognize where your boundaries are and when people cross that boundary you react accordingly. An icy stare and silence works great. Or the classic Ehell comeback, “My, what an interesting assumption”, coupled with that icy stare. People erroneously think etiquette exists to make people feel comfortable. No. It can often aid in making people appropriately uncomfortable and that’s a good thing.