Posted by Elliot Steingart
It's never easy meeting a boyfriend or girlfriend's parents. I introduced my girlfriend to my parents the weekend before Yom Kippur. I just couldn't wait for judgement day. I experienced anxiety before meeting her parents and that was just for dinner. Our day would start at 11am and last well into the night. What did we do all day? What did my girlfriend think of my parents? What did my parents think of my girlfriend?
Here's the recap!
---Negotiating at yard sale for night stand for girlfriend and then asking dad for money to purchase night stand
--Girlfriend walking up after negotiation took place and shaking parents hands
--Deciding we should walk down to the hill to Hollywood Blvd to try on eye glases
--Girlfriend feeling shy about holding my hand in front of my parents marking first time in history of our relationship she has felt shy
--Searching unsuccessfully for Monopoly at Goodwill
--Girlfriend and parents ganging up on me to buy a microwave
--My mom holding up a Malbec at Cap N Cork Liquor shouting “This is $5 more than what we paid in San Diego”
--Hearing my mom say, “it's not this hot in San Diego”
--Sampling each others beers at Umami Burger. “This tastes like a Banana,” said my mom
--Girlfriend recalling that during our beer tasting she realized that her favorite beer was wine
--Trusting girlfriend's directions to the Grammy Museum
--Spotting ABC 7's George Pinacchio on Red Carpet at LA Live rehearsing for Emmy's and thinking of asking him to interview my girlfriend to see what she thought of my parents
--Pointing out Beach Boys exhibit and showing girlfriend handwritten lyrics to “God Only Knows.”
--Dad rapping along with Jermaine Dupri in interactive Grammy Museum Exhibit
--Girlfriend crying after hearing Whitney Houston sing Star Spangled Banner at 1991 Super Bowl
--Mom, girlfriend and I ordering mixed drinks at Mohawk Bend, the best beer bar on the East Side
--Narrowing our dinner options down between Mess Hall and Home
--On way to Home announcing executive descision to dine at Farfalla
--Executive decision to dine at Farfalla shot down by girlfriend and parents
--Seeing girlfriend's roommate and her friends at the table behind us at Home
--Girlfriend explaining her Norwegian ancestry to my parents. My dad saying he knows someone who is married to someone from Norway
--Girlfriend explaining she is a quarter hispanic
--My dad almost ordering shrimp appetizer so he could give girlfriend final shrimp
--Restraining myself from asking my mom and dad “So, do you like her?” when she went to the bathroom
--Opening bottle of wine that girlfriend and I selected at our wine tasting. Hearing my mom and dad agree that it needs to breathe.
--Leaf falling from tree into my dad's salad
--Sitting outside having gelatto hearing my girlfriend and parents discuss old movies like North by Northwest
--Not sharing as much Gelatto as I could
--Returning to my apartment to play men vs. women Electronic Categories
--Girlfriend giving clue "Something that you slice and toast" and hearing my mom guess "Cake" (answer was cornbread)
--Motioning to my lap during Electonic Categories and having my dad guess, “Penis.” (answer was lap of luxury)
--Mom saying girlfriend has great personality, very sure of herself with lots of interests
--Girlfriend telling me parents are very cute and couldn't believe how much they like spending time with each other
--Me telling my girlfriend and parents what the other said
11.25.13 at 8:30 am | Learning code of conduct
10.28.13 at 9:09 am | Parents Meeting Girlfriend's Parents,and more
8.2.13 at 9:12 am | Guest blog written by my dad
7.24.13 at 9:38 am | Going home
6.25.13 at 9:36 am | The longest day of the year
5.24.13 at 11:43 am | Taking the Socks off
September 19, 2012 | 10:45 am
Posted by Elliot Steingart
Rosh Hashana is the only new year that I have to be reminded of. If my dental office can call me three days before my appointment I would expect Chabad's solicitation letter much earlier in the week. I only found out on Friday that Rosh Hashana would fall on Monday. It's hard calling in sick. It's even harder calling in Jewish. I have two floating holidays which means I must observe selectively. I'll reserve those days for Yom Kippur and the next Jewish holiday someone happens to mention.
You don't have to go to services to celebrate the new year. In fact, I celebrated that I did not have to go to services. My parents didn't go either. They streamed services online. That takes a special kind of patience, especially on their computer which Moses used to publish the Ten Commandments.
The holidays are about spending time with friends and family anyway. Fortunately, I was in San Diego over the weekend where I spent quality time with my family and my parent's friends, Bill and Karen from State College, PA. They are retired and spend their time traveling having recently returned from a trip to Iceland.
“Are there any Jews in Iceland?” I asked.
“The Icebergs,” Said Bill who instantly became my favorite person in California.
He and my dad went to high school together and became good friends after graduating from Penn State. I have memories as a kid visiting the Creamery at Penn State and hanging out at their house watching my dad and Bill drink bottled beer. When they visited us in Pittsburgh Bill would sing songs from the Doo Wop era in our living room and reminisce about hot dog and ice creams shops that weren't around anymore. Now in their mid 60's the two of them were boogey boarding in Coronado. They somehow made it to this decade. I couldn't help but think that's the way it's supposed to be.
While they were in the ocean, Karen told West Virginia jokes like the one about how West Virginia is where the tooth brush was invented. That's why it's not called a “teeth brush.” I was also told West Virginians have a new use for sheep...wool.
Back on land, Bill and I bonded over our interest in stocks and even made an investment together in a $3 lottery scratcher. Our investment team is seeing 125% return which means we are up a $1. Dropping Bill and Karen off at the airport, Bill remarked “This was really a great time. I'd give it an A-.” Hopefully we can get Karen to give us 4 stars on Yelp.
Thanks to Bill, I used my scratcher winnings to re-invest in the lottery. I hit the power spot on the 7's for an instant $20 and continued to scratch and win to the point that I won $86 cash. Some of that money would be used that night for family poker with my Aunt Barb, Uncle Larry and my Cousin Ari, a hero of mine as a kid, now celebrating nearly a year of sobriety. For dinner My mom and Aunt Barb served some flavorful rice and curry dishes. Uncle Larry, as is his custom, toasted without Aunt Barb anywhere near the table.
“Why do you always do that?” She asked.
“Here's to Barbara, the matron of the house!” He toasted.
The six of us played Texas Hold Em' and reminisced about how Leona, my grandma who passed away last June, would say the word “possible” to indicate a flush draw no matter how the flop was dealt. Aunt Barb called me on several bluffs and an All-In call against Uncle Larry was not enough for me or Ari to remain in the game. The two of us played Mario Kart like we were 12 years old while Uncle Larry and my dad took first and second.
On Sunday morning my mom and I skyped my sister Ariel, and my nine month old niece, Dylan who can now stand on her own. I told Dylan I would drive her to middle school. She then crawled onto the keyboard and changed Ariel's network settings.
My mom made me a strong cup of coffee and told me that she wants more Jewish babies. “It's up to you to teach your kids about Judiasm,” my mom said.
“Mary-Katherine and Christopher will both be sent to Hebrew School,” I assured her.
They'll spend the Jewish new year with family and friends. I'll just need someone to remind them.
September 12, 2012 | 10:23 am
Posted by Elliot Steingart
Relationships evolve over time. I recall when hope and change brought my girlfriend and me together. She was the new girl in my office. I promised hope when I offered to drive her to work without knowing I would inherit the disaster known as her driving.
We've had enough successes to get us past the bumps in the road, enough to stay the course and see what else we can accomplish together. I'm now the President Obama of our relationship. I'm simply trying to move things “forward.” But, you see, to ensure a brighter tomorrow, I must secure the approval of the swing state, her parents, Dawn and Eric.
In June I drove to meet them for the first time at Damon's Steakhouse in Glendale. On the way to Damon's I felt like I was going to have a heart attack and she wasn't even driving.
“My parents hated my exboyfriend,” she told me. My palms were sweaty and I was out of breath.
“Thanks for the vote of confidence!” I exclaimed as I begged for ice water.
I downed a Mai Tai to help me to relax as we waited for Dawn and Eric. Each time the door opened I nearly jumped to my feet until I finally saw a 6'4 man accompanying an attractive blonde woman. When I shook Eric's hand I marveled at his height and remembered how my exgirlfriend's dad, Joshua was also 6'4. I'm attracted to girls whose dads can easily reach for tupperwear.
Dawn and Eric had just come back from France to visit their other daughter, Mari studying abroad in Paris. I asked them all about the food and their visits to museums. In return, Dawn handed me a special gift wrapped box of French chocolate.
“Wow, thank you, Dawn. That's very nice of you.” I accepted graciously.
Eric ordered coconut shrimp as an appetizer. The shrimps were fresh and delightful. I ate three. We ordered another round of Mai Tais.
“Elliot, why don't you have the last shrimp?” he suggested.
This was no small gesture. A father giving his daughter's boyfriend the last remaining prawn is a sign of acceptance. Though I felt like a shrimp next to Eric, this made me feel like a big man. Our entrees and the next round of Mai Tais gave way to an easy and already familiar rapport that lasted the entire dinner.
I was excited to hang out with Eric and Dawn again. I pretended Eric and I had already made plans. When my girlfriend would invite me to do something I would break the news that her dad and I had dinner plans at our favorite made up Mexican restaurant. “I cant, sorry. Eric and I are heading to Don Chachi's.”
After attending a festive poolside meal at their home where I met Mari for the first time, Dawn and Eric invited me to a pig roast. I was free that night since Eric and I were not going to Don Chachi's.
“Should I bring a pig?” I asked them. No one laughed, except for me.
We each brought a bottle of wine to the pig roast for what became a 14 bottle blind wine tasting. After sipping each wine we shared our thoughts and then wrote down notes. My notes included “rich and floral” while my girlfriend scribbled “taste like dog poo.”
I was most vocal about wine #6. All I could taste was a bitter and sour grape that scratched my throat. “Leaves me unhappy,” I wrote.
“This was the wine I brought,” said Eric.
I tried to reverse course. “That said, it's a great party wine.”
Dawn pointed to the hipster baby boomer talking to my girlfriend. “His name is Phil, but at parties he tells people his name is Phillippe.” She whispered. “He's such a poser.” Plus he was in the way of the wonderful blue cheese crustinis that I told everyone that I had made.
After the wine tasting we made our way outside to see the pig get flipped over.
“This pig lived a good well nourished life. He was fed local almonds and fresh grass,” our host declared.
I didn't know pigs ate almonds. Seems like something Philippe would feed a pig.
As we drank more and more wine, I asked Dawn if she read “50 Shades of Grey” and told Eric I bet against his alma mater, UCLA. By this time we were old friends who enjoyed another remarkable meal highlighted by the deliciousness of the roasted swine. Eating pig with my girlfriend and her parents was another special get to know you, something I will not be able to do with my parents when they meet my girlfriend in two weeks.
I'm starting to feel like I am earning the respect of Dawn and Eric. I feel safe around them, safe enough that I can even invite Dawn to mine and Eric's table at Don Chachi's. I'll save them both a shrimp.
September 6, 2012 | 9:35 am
Posted by Elliot Steingart
We don't often think about who pioneered the old adage that "The customer is always right." I imagine that far from making a simple request, this individual (probably Jewish) approached a manager about a situation that could have easily been resolved. The famous words, “Excuse me! You charged me for pickles” opened the doors for the rest of us to complain at will and no matter what, always be right.
The danger is that most of us aren't right. After college I worked as a server at a country club in Tarzana where I would wait on a dentist by the name of Dr. Gross. Nearly every day for the first month I called him Dr. Davis. I assumed that was his name since he never corrected me. He loved chicken. He loved chicken so much he would make special requests.
“Elliot, can you make the chicken a little rare?” he once asked me.
“Sorry, Dr. Davis. I think chicken is supposed to cooked?”
“Yea, well I like my chicken a little pink.”
If he wants to be called Dr. Davis who was I to argue? If he tips me, he can eat all the raw chicken he wants. I didn't want him to complain. Besides, the customer is always right. The larger and more pressing question--how does any business so reliant on customer satisfaction meet the egregious needs of their customers?
My favorite movie theatre, Los Feliz 3 was recently faced with this dilemma. A customer, who shall not be named, took his girlfriend to see a Saturday night 9:40pm showing of the feature film “Cosmopolis” starring Robert Pattinson. The film was not what they expected as you can read in the email below written to the theatre owner:
“We attend the theatre often and appreciate a neighborhood theatre that makes a variety of new and independent films affordable. I understand that independently own theatres are rare these days which is why we love supporting Los Feliz 3. Though out of hundreds of movies I have seen, I have never walked out of a movie until Saturday night. We both found Cosmopolis tasteless nor watchable. We left disappointed, like we just wasted $19 and our Saturday night. Upon leaving, the thought did not occur to me to speak with a manager as the time was roughly 10:30 and I did not think a manager was on duty. I only saw two employees at the concessions. On September 2nd I returned to the theatre and spoke with Chris, the manager, in person explaining our disappointing experience. Chris was very nice and suggested the best option would be to contact you. My hope is that we can be reimbursed with two tickets for a future showing, or receive $19 in return. I have the ticket stubs which I would be happy to present to you.
Thank you for your understanding, and look forward to hearing from you.
Los Feliz 3 Film Attendee
A day later, the patron received the following email from the theatre's owner:
Good Day Shmelliot,
I am sorry to hear that you did not enjoy "Cosmopolis" at the Los Feliz Cinemas on Saturday. Our film buyers strive to book films for a broad range of tastes and regrettably we cannot always be sure that everyone will enjoy the choices we make available. . For your information, our policy in cooperation with the studios is to allow refunds up to the first 20 minutes of any given feature. As tickets are good and negotiable the date of sale only we are unable to discuss a refund in this case. You indicated that you departed the venue at 10:30 PM which is of course beyond the 20 minute window. Personal taste for all of us is just that, personal, and we normally cannot afford to provide refunds to customers due to a bad film review. However I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to write regarding your experience with us and hope you will accept a Courtesy Pass good for two admissions for a date in the future as a token of my appreciation. Please let me know if you would like me to set up a mailing of the Courtesy Pass to you and I will post immediately upon reciept of your mailing address. If you prefer to pick up in person please let me know. Thank you again for contacting me.
In the above exchange the customer explained that he did not like the film. The owner explained that the movie theatre is not responsible for who likes the film. Because the patron spoke with the manager in person and followed up with a cordial email, the owner willingly made an exception in accommodating the customer with complimentary passes. Indeed it was a good day for Shmelliot.
It's almost beside the point if the customer is right or wrong. By supporting local businesses and giving sincere feedback, we all benefit. The customer experience will be improved and businesses will see a greater return. In this instance, Robert Pattinson is like raw chicken, something only certain special people can stomach. For the rest, it's best to stick to what we know.