That's Not a Mint, Moron!

Today I'm dusting off a gem that I first penned as a guest post on my friend Travis's HILARIOUS blog, I Like to Fish. If my opinion of his comedic genius doesn't influence you to go check him out, perhaps this photo of him will (he's the one on the right):

You're on your way to his blog right after this, right? 
I thought so.

Anyway. Please enjoy the story of how I almost made a complete fool of myself at a fancy restaurant. *curtsy*

I come from a small, rural Midwestern town. And by “small” I mean no stoplights, a couple of cops, less-than-40-people-in-my-graduating-class small. The cows far outnumber the residents. When you’re late getting somewhere, it’s because you were stuck behind a tractor. So you can imagine what a culture shock it was when I moved to … wait for it … Las Vegas.

I know. What’s a country bumpkin sweet small-town girl like me doing in big, crazy Las Vegas, right? Well, I blame the government. My husband Curtis was in the Air Force at the time, and the military stationed us there, at Nellis Air Force Base. So we called it home for three (very interesting) years.

When your beginnings are as backwoods redneck humble as mine, and you somehow end up in the presence of cosmopolitan, city-fied peeps, you end up doing a lot of pretending. Like, you see things that would normally make your mouth hang open, but you just act all nonchalant like, “Oh really? I didn’t even notice that one-armed prostitute kicking the crap out of the homeless guy with the NEED MONEY FOR BOOZE sign.” You pretend certain situations are old hat – even when they’re anything but – just to avoid looking like the naïve and un-worldly dork that you actually are.
Anyway, the reason I tell you this is because while we lived in Vegas, I landed a sweet gig writing for a local magazine that catered to the upscale. It was direct-mailed to the wealthiest households in town. I had a monthly feature called “Hotspot,” for which I got to review some of the fanciest, priciest restaurants in town. Awwww yeeeeahhh.

The very first time I did a restaurant review, I had no friggin’ clue what to expect – but I put on my most beautiful dress ($19.99 at Charlotte Russe, y'all) and hoped for the best. It was a little unnerving when the valet guy parked our (used) Jeep whose front passenger window may have been held up with pieces of wadded up paper jammed into the frame amid Ferraris and other pricey sports cars, but we went in with our heads held high like we always went to places like this.

When a restaurant knows you’re the person who’ll be reviewing them in a magazine, they pull out all the stops, which is all kinds of awesome. It took all the self-restraint I had not to jump up and down and squeal when I saw “VIP” penciled in beside my name in the reservation book. I mean, me? A VIP at a fancy restaurant? I laugh hysterically at fart jokes and can blow a snot rocket further than anyone I know (be jealous). If only they knew.

The meal was out-of-this-world. We ordered everything from appetizers to dessert – it was all free. I had scallops on a bed of illuminated rock salt and a frosty, multicolored martini that emanated wisps of “steam” from a chunk of dry ice. Fabulous. The executive chef even came to our table to chat, bringing with him a jaw-droppingly expensive platter of Kobe beef medallions, explaining how everything was prepared. And through it all, I was silently congratulating myself on appearing like I was accustomed to dining in such a luxurious establishment. 

Go Ri-ta, go Ri-ta.

At the end of the meal, our waitress brought a little squeegee over to the table and cleared off the crumbs. Then she put down a platter of mints. They reminded me of Altoids, just slightly bigger: white, round, compact little tablets.

I was just reaching for one of the mints when, to my horror, the waitress poured water over them. And then – it was amazing – those little “mints” magically transformed. Just a little water was all they needed to bloom into huge ... white ... 

... napkins. 
I had been thisclose to putting one in my mouth.

Let that sink in: I almost ate a napkin at a fancy restaurant, y’all.

To this day, I thank my lucky stars that I didn’t reach for the “mint” more quickly. I could have really made a major fool out of myself. I can just picture the entire restaurant of rich people laughing at me as a napkin exploded forth from my mouth. “Riffraff,” they’d say, and then throw me out on my impostor-ous posterior. (That’s rich-people words for butt.)

Gourmet meal at a fine dining establishment: $230

Not eating your napkin by accident: priceless.

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