Saturday, April 07, 2007

Zagat-only, please

“Why don’t you say that Howard once worked as a contortionist and you had an eyeball transplant?”

The lovely K. and I were driving to the Peabody Marriott on Boston’s North Shore three Decembers ago for what would surely be another somewhat painful Christmas dinner with the office (colleagues and our boss, and spouses), and we were to play a game called “two truths and a lie.” This was a good thing in itself, because conversation otherwise at these coerced gatherings becomes desert-like and as bleak as the Saharan horizon.

We were having trouble coming up with the lies. So K. called her sister Sandra who – perhaps while not a great liar; she’s a wonderful Christian woman – is a highly spontaneous person with a wicked good sense of humor.

With the cell phone to her ear, K. laughed and I said, “What, WHAT?!” Then she told me the ideas and I said, “PERFECT!”

She wasn’t sold on the eyeball lie, not sure if she could pull it off. She decided to lie that she had a tattoo. (Sorry, dear wife, this is not such a big scandal anymore.) To this day, she regrets she didn’t go with eyeball transplant.

We got to the Marriott and suffered through a Hotel Dinner. I think there is an inside conspiracy by hotel employees to keep all hotel restaurants out of the Zagat’s Guide. Then my boss turned the agenda over to my colleague Barry, who usually rescues us from the ennui of an evening with a game that – were it unattended to – would certainly be filled by my boss’s reminder of where we are or aren’t, financially speaking, that has a lot to do with my department’s performance, all this said in front of my dear wife, whose nuptial loyalty I realize is not dependent on her husband’s performance at work but whose confidence nonetheless I wished to encourage if not by increasing revenue through my department then by lying incredibly good about being a contortionist.

We each wrote down our truths and lies on paper, and Barry read them aloud. He’s the kind of man who could read from the phone book and make people laugh.

It came my turn and people started to vote. My truths were (1) getting mugged for candy as a boy (I lived in New York City – this is standard fare), and (2) singing at Lincoln Center (I was part of a boy’s choir at school).

Several of my colleagues actually thought I had worked as a contortionist. I have no idea whether this should be interpreted as a sign of respect or suspicion.

Thirty minutes later, all of us waiting for the Zagat-banned Hotel Dinner to end, my boss was on a long riff about how income in my area was down halfway through our fiscal year (we ended up in the black, Dear Reader). This, in front of my colleagues and my wife.

A bit like a mugging, a bit like getting kicked squarely into soprano territory, and a bit like getting my right shin stuck behind my left ear with the whole table looking on.

Somebody please get the tip.


Anonymous said...

Hi Dootz,

Just as a clarification...we have lots of hotel restaurants listed in each of our city guides.

In fact, most have an index in the back called "Hotel Dining".

Excellent restaurants in hotels has become as common as the minibar...simply because it attracts both locals who'd never need to stay in the hotels as well as an incentive for out of town guests.

In any event, please join us over at ( or at our Website

Thanks for the mention!

- ZAGAT Survey

endangered coffee said...

Wow. Pretty impressive that the Zagat robots are monitoring your blog.