Saturday morning. I'm at my favourite breakfast spot, and a huge group of people are throwing a "going away party" for a husband, wife, and their son named "Zane."
Zane is six, and he's apparently grumpy because he stayed up late the night before; he's excited because they're flying out to see "Aunt Betty" tomorrow.
How do I know all this? Because it's impossible for anybody in the restaurant to ignore Zane.
ZANE: I haaaate this place, I hate it here, I don't wanna eat here!
MOM: You've never been here before, give it a chance.
DAD: C'mon Zane, look at all this food, what do you want to eat?
ZANE: I don't WANNA eat here!
DAD: Hey grumpy, what do you want, do you want chocolate waffles?
ZANE: I don't WANT chocolate waffles, I don't WANNA have chocolate waffles, I wanna see Aunt Betty!
MOM: We'll see Aunt Betty tomorrow, Zane.
ZANE: I WANNA SEE AUNT BETTY NOWWWWWWWW!
What makes this more amusing is that Zane is sitting next to a smaller boy -- Billy -- who's a real goody-two-shoes. This kid keeps making the situation worse.
ZANE: I want COKE, I wanna have a COKE!
DAD: Okay, one Coke for Zane. What do you want, Billy?
BILLY: Milk, please. My dad says you should never drink Coke for breakfast.
ZANE: BUT I WAAAANT COOOOOKE!
DAD: Zane, that's alright, we'll get you a Coke.
BILLY: My dad says you should drink milk, not Coke.
ZANE: I DON'T WANT MILK, I WANT A COKE!
MOM: Wow, who's a grumpy-gus this morning?
The parents, family, and friends try all sorts of techniques for distracting Zane. They drag him around the restaurant and show him all the nooks and crannies. They talk about what their airplane trip will be like ("Maybe you'll get to fly the plane, Zane?" "I DON'T WANT TO FLY THE PLANE!"). Nothing works for long.
The food finally arrives.
ZANE: I want chocolate waffles!!!
DAD: You DO have chocolate waffles. Look, here, you've got chocolate waffles.
ZANE: I don't WANT chocolate waffles!!!
MOM & DAD: WHAT?!?
ZANE: I don't LIKE this chocolate, I want REAL chocolate!
Sunday morning and I'm back at the same place. Zane isn't there -- presumably he's flying off to see Aunt Betty -- but a man and woman in their 40s sit next to me.
I try not to pay attention to them, but I notice that she's complaining as soon as she sits down...something about wanting to sit in a different part of the restaurant because she likes the food better there, but the waitress reassures her that the menu is exactly the same and the food comes from the same kitchen.
A few minutes later, I become aware of them when the waitress brings them their food.
WAITRESS: Here's your order, and I'll just run and bring over your toast.
WIFE: I have just one request. Could you please make sure that the bread isn't toasted or buttered?
WAITRESS: Uhhhh...the food is already done.
WIFE: Oh. I'd prefer not to have it toasted or buttered.
WAITRESS: I see. It's just that they've already made your food.
HUSBAND: Maybe you should have mentioned that when you ordered.
WIFE: Sigh. Okay. Just bring it over.
Shortly afterward the waitress comes by to see if everything's okay.
WAITRESS: How's your food, is everything good?
WIFE: I just have one complaint. These are roasted red peppers. The menu just says "red peppers." Look at this pepper here, this is carbon. That's unhealthy and dishonest.
WAITRESS: I didn't know the menu didn't say "roasted," I'll tell the cooks.
WIFE: Because I don't like roasted red peppers.
WAITRESS: I didn't know the menu said that, I'll tell the cooks.
WIFE: If I'd known they were roasted I wouldn't have ordered it.
WAITRESS: I see, I'll tell the cooks.
WIFE: Sigh. Sigh. Sigh.
Not long after I got up to leave. The husband asked his wife if her food was good, and I saw that she was poking at it and shaking her head.
WIFE: I...I don't even know what this is. I don't know what this IS. I can't EAT this.
I left before the final fireworks but I was struck by the similarity between her tantrum and Zane's: at least Zane was STRAIGHT FORWARD. His need to whine was 100% direct and honest. This woman, however, was more manipulative in her whining.
And somehow you can excuse a six year old for behaviour that is unseemly for a 46 year old.