Before there was The SuperFogeys, there was the blog “From Behind the Light.” It was mostly personal stories from my own life with a sprinkling of other nonsense like short fiction stories and a some early comics. Now that we’re on this new site, I can do more blogging of that type and bring back some of the old stuff that most of you have never seen. Here’s one:

Have you ever gone a date with someone that just embarrassed you to no end and about whom you felt the need to apologize for to every person you came in contact with? I haven’t. Instead, women tend to go on those types of dates with ME. You needn’t fear, however. Now that I’m married there is only one woman upon whom I inflict my embarrassment mojo. We have a love/tolerate relationship.

There is a quaint little Mexican Restaurant in the Old Town section of the city where I live called ‘La Posada.’ It’s so quaint that you would never take this particular eatery for a restaurant. It’s a converted, small house where the people are swell and the food is good. You ever eat in a place like this? I feel like an intruder every time I go in. For all I know, the chef just rolled out of bed before cooking my enchiladas and my order acts as his wake up call. “Curse you, Heasley… curse you,” I can hear him saying.

One night about a year and a half ago we decided to treat ourselves to some ‘La Posada’ after a particularly stressful week. Money was tight and we were looking at having our second child early the next year and all I could think about was money and how much of it everyone else had and we didn’t. Now, my wife is a very reasonable individual. She’ll get worked up over things, but she always calms down afterwards. She knows better than to get me worked up because there are always physical manifestations and whatever it is takes over my brain. No one knows this better than our waitress that night at ‘La Posada.’

Nicest Waitress in the World: Can I take your order?

Me: Yeah, um…

Wife: I’ll have the Enchiladas and Tacos combo.

NWITW: Would you like some tortillas with that?

Wife: Yes, please.

Me: Those are free, right?

NWITW: Yes, they are.

Me: Okay. Great. Um…I’ll have the same but instead of the regular tacos can I get the fish tacos?

NWITW: Sure thing. That’ll be a dollar more, is that okay?

Me: Really? Oh, never mind then. I’ll just take the regular tacos.

NWITW: Ok. Would you like anything to drink with that?

Wife (kicking me under the table): Just water’s fine.

NWITW: Ok. Would you like lemon with that?

Me:  Does that cost extra?

‘Does that cost extra?’ Now, there’s a phrase that will haunt me for the rest of my life. If we’re at a party and my wife needs a funny story, there’s always ‘Does that cost extra?’ Yes, it’s true, I actually wanted to know if the little lemon slices they put on the rim of our glasses of water cost money.

The Nicest Waitress in the World leaves and you can bet I was in for it.

Wife: Omigosh. You sound just like Logan.

This is not a compliment. Now, Logan is my younger brother. You do not want to go to a restaurant with Logan. He is notorious for giving waiters and waitresses a hard time. (Hopefully, he doesn’t also read this blog. Love ya, bro!) Sample of Logan:

Logan: Hey, you better keep this pitcher of water full. Your tip depends on it; you understand what I’m saying?

We eat and my wife’s conversation seems distracted. I think she’s secretly praying every time our waitress comes around that I won’t open my mouth. The food is excellent, as always, and the check arrives. We had set aside some cash for the evening and we had just enough to cover it. Only just. There was no money for the tip.

What was I supposed to do? Break out my check card for a $3 tip?  That seemed ridiculous and even more embarrassing. We left the table and made our way to the register. Like I said, it was a small place. Who do you think our cashier was? That’s right, the Nicest Waitress in the World. I paid the cost of the meal with great shame and left.

NWITW: Have a good night.

I once read that Quentin Tarantino doesn’t believe in tipping. No, not cows. Or goats for that matter. He doesn’t believe in leaving tip at a restaurant after a meal. From what I understand he expounds on this philosophy through a character in a bloody, profane movie he did (that I have not seen) called ‘Reservoir Dogs.’ His reasoning, I believe, is this: I’m paying for the meal and you’re providing a service for which you are also paid therefore I do not need to tip you for simply doing your job. On a certain level, this makes sense. On another level, Quentin Tarantino is a big, fat jerk. And so was I.

My wife left the restaurant as soon as we got up from the table. No way she was gonna stick around and watch me pay for the meal and give some sort of implied approval of my non-tipping ways. I made my way out to the car and got in.

Wife: What did you do about the tip?

Me: I didn’t pay it.

Wife: You really didn’t pay it!?

Me: No. I need to go back. I need to pay it.

Wife: We don’t have any money.

Me: We need to get money. We have to find an ATM.

Wife. You have got to be kidding me. I’m not going back in there.

I drove around Old Town for about 15 minutes looking for an ATM.  When I finally found one, I bit the bullet and took out the minimum from our savings–$20. Now, I knew I wasn’t going to tip $20, even if she was The Nicest Waitress in the World. I just couldn’t afford it. I also only had a Twenty Dollar Bill. We found a little cafe and I bought a small milk. By now 30 minutes had passed since we left the restaurant.

Now, I did not want to go back. I already knew at this point that this would rank as one of the top five embarrassments of my life, but what was I going to do? If anyone ever deserved to be tipped, it was NWITW. I entered the door and who do you think was still at the cash register?

Me: Hi. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to leave without giving a tip. I just didn’t have enough money on me. Here you go.Thanks a lot for tonight. The food was really good.

I handed her $5.

NWITW: Thank you. Have a good night.

For about a split second we just kind of looked at each other. There was this look of terrible gratitude in her face and her whole frame seemed to relax. I can only imagine the things she said about me to her coworkers. And I felt good, too. It was obvious she’d had a rough day and I think she was sure she would never see me again. She was probably hoping she wouldn’t. But not at that moment.

Of course, I ruined the moment by tripping over the threshold as I backed out of the restaurant to back to the car.