So that reminds me…
When I was in college, I waited tables at a Joe’s Crab Shack (and no, I will not put in a “good word” for you with the Joe’s Crab Shack people, so don’t bother sending me your resumes) in a strip mall in the suburbs of Memphis, Tennessee. One night, a guest approached me at the food-expediting window and asked if I could help him propose to his girlfriend.
He handed me an engagement ring (the kind you can probably find at one of those stores from the commercials with the shadow people) and requested that I place it atop the frozen piece of factory-made key lime pie they would be ordering for dessert to finish off their delicious meal of fried seafood with jazzy mango salsa or whatever. Hoping for a tip of at least half the value of the ring he purchased (or roughly 20% of the total dinner bill), I said I would be happy to help.
Now for those of you who have never had the Joe’s Crab Shack dining and entertainment experience, the restaurant’s signature trademarks include: A “drunken old-timey fisherman hippie boat” ambiance created by the wall decor, the beloved tradition of the waitstaff occasionally pausing from their tartar-sauce-shuttling duties to break into seemingly spontaneous choreographed interpretations of “The Chicken Dance” on tops of tables (where people are eating), and the use of a megaphone to systematically humiliate those poor unfortunate guests who made the mistake of visiting the restaurant on their birthday.
Marriage proposals, however, were never mentioned in the “Guide to Facilitating the Perception of Whimsical Fun” chapter of the Joe’s Crab Shack and Landry’s Restaurants Official Employee Manual. So when I told my manager what was going on with the forthcoming key lime pie of possible matrimony, he seemed unsure of whether or not this sort of special moment merited the full “calling the entire restaurant’s attention to the occasion with a megaphone” treatment usually employed for birthday celebrations.
Ultimately, his directive to do whatever is neccessary to create a fun and lively environment for the consumption of seafood won over that day and he made the (what would ultimately turn out to be very poor) decision to go ahead with publicly announcing the engagement to the restaurant via megaphone.
Luckily, it was my job to carry out this mission on his behalf. So after elegantly placing the sparkling masterpiece of Kay jewelers craftsmanship lovingly atop the most delicious-looking piece of key lime pie I could find, I dropped off all this man’s hopes and dreams for his romantic future at their table and went back to the Hobart to hose off some oyster platters while he worked his magic.
A few minutes later, having arbitrarily decided that an appropriate amount of time had passed for these two to go ahead and get engaged already, I approached their table, megaphone in one hand, trucker microphone extension piece in the other, and politely asked the whole restaurant for a few moments of their attention so we could all celebrate the special turn of events that had just taken place amongst us. It was at this point, noting the ashen looks of hopelessness and dread that suddenly fell across the faces of my Guests of Honor when they saw the megaphone, that I realized something might be wrong.
Unfortunately this realization occurred as the words, “So what did she say?!” were making their way out of my mouth and into the megaphone that I was directing skyward in the middle of the dinner rush at this inexplicably popular restaurant.
Still, I pointed the trucker mic in their general direction and awaited a response. They sat there, silently, for what felt like an infinite ocean of time, before he finally choked out a barely audible, “She hasn’t made up her mind yet” as she quickly left the restaurant.
I did not know what to say into the megaphone next, so I babbled something about wishing them the best of luck and life and happiness and fun and future memories being made with their friends at Joe’s until it seemed like enough and I put the megaphone down and awkwardly attended to the matter of the poor man’s bill so he could leave and I could go back to the Hobart to finish up those oyster trays.
Anyway, that was definitely the worst marriage proposal I’ve ever been a part of. At least until yesterday.