When I'm in a restaurant, I ride an emotional roller coaster. It's the complimentary bread. Nothing evokes more excitement and, at times, more anxiety than the bread. I might drop 25 bucks on an entrée and I don't give a damn about it. They can bring it next Tuesday. I don't mind. Maybe it will taste great. Maybe it'll disappoint. Perhaps the portion will be too small or overcooked. Hell, I don't care if the waiter serves it up ice cold, on fire, or marinated in shards of glass. Just keep the free bread coming.
Why doesn't bread and butter taste as good at home? What's so special about restaurant bread and butter? Where do they get that lightly whipped sweet butter? It's as if Venus supplied the milk from her divine teats. Ambrosia! Can I buy this magical butter somewhere? Maybe they import it from Cuba. It must surely be contraband for all the pleasure whipped inside of it.
Maybe you're like me. The bread-eating becomes a game. How many free rolls can I eat without spoiling my meal? Answer, who cares? I'm going to keep eating bread until the food arrives. I'm going to crap a dough ball tomorrow, but it will have been worth it.
The worst thing is when the waiter forgets the bread. That's an emergency on the order of Hurricane Katrina and a baby-down-a-well, combined. Damn that waiter. Well, I should give him an extra minute or two. Hey, maybe he's waiting for a fresh loaf to pop out of the oven just for me! Then the waiter resurface from the kitchen. No bread. That son-of-a-bitch. Is he smoking dope in the back alley? He thinks he can screw me out of my complimentary bread and still get a tip? Ah, go easy on him, LBB. He probably just forgot.
Another minute will pass. By this time I've already ordered. Still no goddamn bread. I'm becoming irrational. I'm thinking about pulling the fire alarm or brandishing a pistol or calling in a bomb threat – anything to get the ball rolling. I plopped out a ton of dough for this meal. I want the bread I have coming to me.
How about when you're dining with 5 or so other people, and the waiter brings out a basket with 4 rolls. What kind of sick, ancient Roman arena contest is this? A shortage of rolls can turn perfectly civilized people into gladiators with steak knives.
The table goes quiet as everyone makes a mental bread roll count via their peripheral vision. A showdown is pending. Bill, this bread basket ain't big enough for the both of us.
My mental gears start wheeling. Well, I hope Jim ate before he came because he's not getting my roll!... Damn that Sharon. Five minutes ago she was boring us to tears with her Atkins diet speech and now she grabs a roll? What happened to your low-carb miracle diet, Sharon? I hope that pig splits her dress.
On the outside, I play it cool. I drop a line like: “Oh, there's bread. Maybe I'll have a piece. Then again, I don't want to spoil my appetite.” God, I hate myself. What a phony bastard I am. A real man would take the last roll, but I'm emasculated by years of politeness programming and social mores.
Larry has an interesting approach. He grabs the last bread roll. And just as I'm about to give him a steak knife tracheotomy, he begins carving it. Evidently, he's cutting off a piece for himself, and leaving the remainder for the more patient and polite among us. Good work, Larry... Wait a minute! Larry cuts himself a piece, but it's way more than his share. He clearly exceeded a fair portion of the last roll. You son-of-a-bitch. So that's your game. I hope you choke on it, Larry. And if you go for the remaining piece of that roll later, you'll be dislodging my salad fork from your metacarpals.
Dammit people, this bread is for all of us!
“We could use another basket of bread, if it's not too much trouble,” Sharon tells the waiter. Sharon, I could kiss you on your obnoxious, low-carb-eating mouth. You got the waiter to bring more bread! All is right with the world. After all, since I haven't touched a roll, etiquette dictates that I have dibs on the next basket. Suck on it, dinner companions! I'll be able to score at least 2 rolls without drawing fire from the others. After all, aren't I the saint to waited until everyone else got some bread? When the next basket of bread arrives, I've got free reign. Carte blanche! Hold your tongues, dinner friends. Let he without sin cast the first roll. Ah, by the time I'm done with my rolls, the main course will have arrived and I won't give a darn about a stinkin' basket of bread. Viva bread! Viva Life! Viva Las Vegas!