Freudian Slips: Whining and Dining

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Location: Irony, New Jersey, United States

Life takes us many places. It's a box of chocolates and a Hansel and Gretal trail of candy wrappers. I have filmed as an actor in The Happening, Invincible, The Lovely Bones, The Bounty Hunter, The Greek American, Bazookas, Limitless, TV's Its Always Sunny in Philly, Outlaw, New York, The Warrior, The Nail, Game Change, Cold Case, & commercial work includes The Philadelphia Eagles, Septa, Coors, Turbo Tax & Carnival Cruises. Freudian Slips spotlights irony in short story format.

April 11, 2007

Whining and Dining

My younger brother John is finicky and particular about his choices in life. He has been extremely successful in life by making the right choices without sacrificing quality. I believe his success in life makes him accustomed to a high standard of living. He is frugal and cautiously guards his money not to a fault but as a way to an even better means. By driving a hard bargain, John gets more bang for his buck than anyone I know. He is a shrewd operator whether he is haggling with a flea market vender or smugly using a wrinkled restaurant coupon on the last day before its expiration.
While choosing a restaurant is a thought provoking venture for my brother, ordering an actual meal is an even more calculated maneuver. Believe me when I say that I have been on the other side of a dining table with him. Food value, taste, portions, presentation, temperature, ambience, even the fragrance of the hand soap in the public restroom are all ingredients in his rating of a dining experience. Without sounding critical of a frugal gourmet, John has never been shy about offering an opinion or sending a subpar meal back to the kitchen. He qualifies his dissatisfaction with polite cajoling that seems more like a polished art trumping his hungry yet patient stomach.
About a year ago, John hit pay dirt when he ate at a new restaurant a few towns over. After the meal, John grabbed a customer satisfaction survey and took it home. He later completed the survey online with excruciating detail and bluntness. The overall tone of the dining experience was favorable but the establishment had margin for improvement. John told them so. The restaurant owner emailed my brother back thanking him for his candid statements. The owner related that this survey was the most detail oriented feedback the restaurant had ever received. My brother’s food critic skills so impressed the owner that he telephoned him hoping to hire him as a mystery shopper.
"Mr. Tornatore, I would like you to be our mystery shopper."
“What does a mystery shopper do exactly?”
“You come in to my restaurant eat for free then fill out another survey.”
“You mean I get to eat for free and complain?”
“Yes.” replied the owner.
"I have a big family."
"No problem. You can bring them along."
John answered, “I’m your guy.”
John’s new side job as a mystery shopper is easy to digest. It entails barnstorming the restaurant on a quarterly basis with his hulking family of five in tote. They eat for free from appeasing appetizers to creamy desserts. When their hearts and bellys are content, they leave the establishment without revealing their true identity. John tattletales back to the owner about kinks in the free loading experience.
All those years of complaining has finally paid off for my brother. A glutton for nourishment, John outlandishly gets reimbursed for his constructive criticism. My brother has never been more content in a restaurant than disguised as a mystery shopping. He is whining and dining. Forever the critic, John finally has something to complain about. It is his job and he is eating it up with a silver spoon.

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9 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! How wonderful is this? Good story, Joe.

7:09 AM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

anonymous,
The story could only be better if I was selected as the mystery shopper instead.

7:58 AM  
Anonymous Crimp, the Mystery Shopper said...

It is I, the mystery shopper from Connecticut - or, perhaps I should now refer to myself as, "The Mystery Blogger." You see, it is no longer fair or satisfying sport to critique the restaurateurs of the world (or, of Connecticut, New York and New Jersey, as the case may be), so I have turned my attention to that oft neglected and mostly unappreciated segment of our community, the Bloggers. Since Joe presents himself such a willing target, I mean mystery project (shhh, he doesn't know I'm reading his blog - it's a mystery!), I guess I will begin with his Freudian Slips.

I found Joe's recent posting, Whining and Dining, to be superb in aroma, exceptional in body and flavor, and a balanced blending of fact and fictional license. The tempo was upbeat, without racing ahead of the reader, and the beginning and end were well balanced against the middle.

I would be remise, though, if I did not offer constructive and insightful comments concerning Freudian Slips, for the benefit of Joe, and ultimately for the benefit of all the blog-goers that will come after me.

In the first paragraph of this story, the phrase "cautiously guards" when paired with the phrase "his money" sounds a bit hollow, or dare I say, like a tired cliché. Consider, instead, linking words together that call out to the reader, "this is Joe talking, here! Joey, in da house!" How about, "I'm not saying my brother is cheap or tight with his dough, but the only thing that squeaks more than he does is the 9 year old truck he drives," or maybe even, "the only folks who shed more tears than he does when money is pried from his pocket are the 3 generations of moths that live in his wallet."

And, don't get me started on the hand soap in Joe's powder room!

Respectfully submitted,

The Mystery Blogger

3:33 PM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

crimp,
Thank God you only write, not talk, with food in your mouth.

5:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is tag team blogging at its best. The bloggee vs. blogger. Look out WWF!

8:10 AM  
Anonymous Crimp, the mystery shopper said...

Anonymous:

When I highjack Joe's blog, I like to think of it more like driving without a license, than a true act of violence.

Hold on a minute, something else is coming to me - Oh boy, it's happening again - I feel myself channeling the mystic energies of the mystery blogger. Yes, an undeniable compulsion to point out that in your comment posting, the use of the words "tag team" together with "bloggee vs. blogger" is nonsensical - tag teams work cooperatively, not against each other.

No need to thank me - bettering humanity through uninvited criticism is reward enough.

- MB

10:35 AM  
Anonymous et said...

Crimp, you're starting to resemble someone I know....with the uninvited, helpful comments that you made to anonymous. I do agree with anonymous in that this is bantering or sibling rivalry at its best.

10:46 AM  
Blogger mommanator said...

O you two stop it now I loved both and I do think I am a conaseaur of sorts of JT's blogging! Both were good writing despite the food for thought it was smothered with.
Both of ya keep writing I love it!

10:58 AM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

mommanator,
thanks for telling them to stick a fork in it.

6:01 PM  

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