The Stranger enters the crowded restaurant on a recent evening, his goal being to spend a bit of time at the bar and enjoy a glass of wine and some food. At the corner of the bar sit a man and woman, the man wearing a cap of some sort, the woman knockoff Missoni. The barstool to the man’s right is empty save a blue purse; The Stranger politely inquires whether the purse belongs to the man with the cap, who replies, “No, I am saving this seat for a friend who might be coming.” Glancing to his left, The Stranger sees that the stool on the other side of faux-Missoni woman is empty. “That’s OK, I’ll take this seat,” The Stranger says, walking to the empty perch. The man and woman, almost in unison, state: “We are saving that spot, too.” The Stranger looks at the trendy-looking pair, wondering if they are joking, and occupies the barstool.
Cap-wearing man offers this concession to The Stranger: “Well, we were saving the stools in case our friends came, but go ahead and sit.” “Oh, that is so kind of you,” The Stranger replies. “Are you two being serious? This is a bar, not a table. You’re telling me that your friends ‘might’ show up, so you are going to prevent other guests from taking a seat and enjoying the evening? In what city were you thusly educated?”
The Stranger orders a glass of Mencía, while the Missoni-Wannabe calls her absent friends and finds that they are, after all, not coming. Seems there was a trendier place at which they wanted to make an appearance. Stranger wonders if at that trendier place that pair was attempting to save two stools for Missoni and Cap.
While deciding what to order for his meal, The Stranger hears the woman say that she is a wine rep; the cap-wearer proudly replies to her that he is in the “industry” and has been a mixologist for more than five years. The Stranger thinks: They are even more idiotic than I thought; they work in the “industry” and think it proper to save barstools for friends who may or may not appear? Then, In what seemed an effort to make herself look even dafter, Missoni Girl orders a “Boo-shulay,” pronouncing it in exactly that manner.
A city is nothing without human beings, and the citizens of a city give it its unique identity. Subsets of a population, say, “foodies”, further define a community. Houston’s dining and culinary scene has come a long way, indeed, but, as The Stranger thought to himself on that evening, it still has a long way to go, and will have for a long while if Missoni and Cap have anything to say about it.