Sunday, February 13, 2011


This bright idea has ‘fogey’ written all over it

     It’s a cliché, of course, to say that parents somehow grow smarter as their children grow older. But it’s true. How does that happen, we wonder? Why did they seem so clueless when we were teenagers, and how did they become so wise after we wandered into adulthood ourselves? A question for the ages. (more after the break)     

This all came back to me recently when I was dining at a private club — a lovely place, but as Groucho Marx said, “I wouldn’t join any club that would have me as a member” — and was handed something   that would have made my late father very happy. A menu he could read.    My whole childhood was spent listening to a man complain while ordering food. Or trying to order food. I thought him a bit of a fool, of course. I was his child, but far more worldly in the ways of menus.    The print was always too small, the restaurant too dark. Why we always frequented dark restaurants, I don’t know, but I do know if he said it once, he said it a thousand times: “How do they expect me to read this damn menu if there’s no light?”    At the time, I thought it the ramblings of an old man. Today I find it a perfectly acceptable question. I can’t see anything   , either, even when I bring the candle to my face.    It doesn’t help that I never carry my reading glasses with me. But add to that the fact restaurants are housed in   dungeons these days, and you’ve got a man who points to the top item and hopes for the best.    So, back to the other night. We were at this fancy club, and the maitre d’ performed his usual presentation-of-the-menu dance around the table. But the menus were thick and leather-bound. Something was different.    And when he opened mine and put it in my hands, I saw it was a computer-like screen — a Kindle of sorts — and it glowed. An illuminated menu. Food I could see! Lobster! Tenderloin! Sole!    Did I kiss this menu? I think I did. Looking around the table, everyone’s face was aglow, not a squint or a frown   to be seen. I wanted to order everything, only because I could actually see what I was ordering. I wanted to order something for Dad, too.    I understand these illuminated menus have been around for a couple of years now, but I don’t travel in such well-lighted circles. This was my first illumination. It’s a trend we aging Baby Boomers need to push in 2011.    If this new Congress does nothing else this year, it should pass the Lighted Menu Act, ensuring not only a chicken in every pot but a lighted menu in every hand.    Do it for Dad. He’ll have the duck.
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