Al Batt: Wobble stoppers and dangerous restaurant booths are no yacht party

Published 8:45 pm Tuesday, February 14, 2023

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Tales from Exit 22 by Al Batt

The day had a wobble in it.

Al Batt

I was driving a farm tractor. It was a prime confuser on a confusing day.

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Driving a tractor should have been a simple thing for someone with umpteen hours in a tractor seat, but life is complicated. I became ill-suited for the job and didn’t demonstrate an abundance of caution. I ought to have done things differently, but life is an oughtabiography. I was running late and going fast because that way when things go wrong they didn’t last so long. To make a long story short, I ran into the back of the corn planter my father pulled behind another tractor. It wasn’t a Hallmark moment. I was a young dog teaching myself new tricks. The accident not only cut my water but also removed the meter. Life makes it impossible for me to be anything but humble. I might have uttered something containing a diphthong. The collision did no good, but it didn’t do any permanent damage. Neither Dad nor the tractor blew a gasket. We both said we were OK, being from “walk it off” generations.

The next day, we needed to relearn how to communicate with one another. We sat in Vivian’s Cafe waiting for Dad’s coffee and my fried roll to arrive. I allowed time to pass before reaching out with what I thought was a droll comment that would foster bonding.

“If you had to do it all over again, would you have children?” I sad.

“Yes, I would,” he replied while smiling to accommodate my incompetence, “but not the same ones.” I hadn’t waited long enough to ask that question. I’d become Hamilton Burger to his Perry Mason, but we dulled the sharp edges. I think the booth helped.

When I enter a restaurant now and a smiling server asks, “Booth or table?” I indicate a booth is sufficient for my scant needs.

It’s hard to tell where people stand, but it’s easy to see where they sit.

“Smoking or nonsmoking?” the server used to inquire, but no longer.

Now after hearing a response of booth or table, the server says, “Right this way.”

I follow because the server has the menus and I seek sustenance.

I base my booth selection on years of scientific research, vast experience and pleasant recollections of my youth. A booth has more sitting space and privacy, helps me to better understand the world, welcomes pondering and pontification, and provides comfort in a softer landing. I see sleeping people in booths at truck stops — not on chairs at a table. A table is for people who couldn’t get a booth. You take what you can get.

A booth is like a couch or sofa, but can make a bathroom break complicated unless the desperate person is seated at the outside end. People need to get up and accept apologies. Those with weak bladders should sit on the outside.

It’s easier to clean under a table, but a booth offers faux leather, which adds to the dining pleasure. A table offers wood or plastic. You can knock on wood, but knocking on plastic does nothing. If you want people to tell you that you rock, sit at a table. Tables rock. It’s not because they are cool, it’s because their legs are uneven or the floor isn’t flat. Human wobble stoppers work incessantly to level the eating field. Cardboard, folded menus, wooden wedges or an entire set of encyclopedias are placed under table legs to weaken the wobbles. Industrious folks employ an ambitious saw to shorten table legs. These well-intended people end up with coffee tables.

It’s a federal law that one table leg has to be shorter than the others. This is because of the persistent efforts of the powerful lobby group “Wobbling Makes America Great.”

Opinions vary. The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum has a booth from Chasen’s restaurant because that was where Ronald proposed to Nancy. And I know a guy who asks how I could use a booth in a restaurant when a booth had killed Lincoln. John Wilkes Booth shot President Abraham Lincoln, but I’m not sure he was related to the restaurant booths.

I’ve tabled his question.

Al Batt’s columns appear every Wednesday.