the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Tag: restaurants

Breakfast with Lily

As I have mentioned many times before, Sophia is a strong, assertive woman. I find that sexy (unless, of course, when it has anything to do with me, when it can be a pain in the ass). One of the traits I really admire about her is that she isn’t a wallflower in restaurants. If she doesn’t like a dish or it isn’t up to her standards, she isn’t afraid of telling the waiter and speaking her mind.

Before I met her, I was too meek to complain.

“Eh, the salmon is OK.” I would say. “It’s not that bad.”

“Don’t eat it. Return it!” she would answer. “You’re PAYING for it.”

During the last several years under her tutelage, I became stronger. Hair sprouted on my chest (even if the hair has grown a little gray lately). Now I eat in restaurants with renewed confidence.

On Sunday, my mother and I had breakfast with Lily, a workmate of my mother’s from Farrar Straus, and Giroux. She is an elegant-looking Peruvian woman of about fifty. Her strong opinions reminds me of Sophia’s.

We received our food, and Lily took one bite of her omelete.

“It is completely cold,” she said.

“I’ll call the waiter over.” I insisted, taking charge of the matter, the testosterone running through my body.

“No, it’s fine like this.” she whispered quietly, and continued to eat her mushroom omelete.

I found this very confusing. Normally, Lily is very assertive. Had I become such a stronger personality –that I had already surpassed her? Have I finally rid myself of my passive nature? Am I ready to take the world by storm, standing tall, my c**k always at attention — like a true man?

As we left the restaurant and stepped into the September air, I built up the courage to ask Lily the question on my mind:

“Why didn’t your return your breakfast when it was cold? It seemed so unlike you.”

“I know,” she answered. “But my husband has worked as a cook in a restaurant for twenty-five years. I know FOR A FACT that when a customer returns his food, everyone in the back spits on it.”

I Don’t Understand Women

(Three Women by Fernand Leger)

Thank you for all the nice things you said about my dancing debut on Citizen of the Month. I was frankly surprised by the positive reaction, especially from female bloggers. In fact, I’d like to talk about this response by the women… just with the men.


Women — would you be kind enough to shut off you monitors for a few minutes so I can talk to the men alone. Thanks.

Men — did you see that response to me dancing? The babes were practically throwing themselves at my feet! Who knew that putting on an old suit has that effect? But isn’t it a little ironic that women are doing this at the EXACT moment when I’m making a romantic gesture to my wife? Where were they a month and a half ago? Why didn’t they do this when I was so horny I was writing pornographic children’s stories? Do you remember when Sophia first left town, I actually asked female bloggers to ease my pain by sending me photos of themselves topless.

Do you know how many tits I got to see? NONE!

Here I was back then — alone, and no one even swung their bra in the air for my amusement. But I do a little dance step FOR SOPHIA, and all of a sudden they’re throwing me their panties? Are they crazy? Or do women just like to torture us?

I don’t understand women. Do you?

Female bloggers — you can turn on your monitors now!

Back to the post —

Thank you again, ladies. Here’s a story I think you’ll enjoy. There’s food in the story, and I know you women LOOOOVE to eat.

One of my favorite local bloggers is Sarah from The Delicious Life and Slashfood. She’s one of the best food bloggers out there. I’ve been bugging her for weeks to let me come along and see her in action. On Thursday, she relented. She invited me to join her in checking out Mao’s Kitchen in Venice. We decided that I would pick her up and we’d drive together to the restaurant.

Although this wasn’t a date in a romantic sense, I was still having some pre-“date” jitters. After all, I was picking up a cute woman at her apartment and going to dinner with her, and I haven’t gone on ANY type of date since…. well, since… Sophia.

You know that cliched romantic comedy movie scene where a woman puts on five different outfits before she goes on her date?

On Thursday, that woman was me.

I changed shirts three times, then stared in the mirror at the awfulness of my hair. As much as I tried to brush it, it seemed as if the ghost of Donald Trump’s hair had decided to move in. I used some of Sophia’s mousse, and since I never use this gooey junk, it just made my hair look like a helmet. I ended up taking a second shower just to shampoo it out.

I decided to take Sophia’s SUV, thinking it was the most comfortable ride. I jumped in and was about to drive off, when I noticed that the windows were filthy. This was not acceptable for me to pick up some glamorous food blogger in a muddy car.

I stepped out of the car and decided to do a quick washing with the garden hose. I’m sure my face registered pleasure as the grime and dirt slid off the car, that is until I noticed that the passenger window was half open and I was spraying water from the hose INTO the car!


Four towels and a quick drying later, I was off to my “date.”

Once Sarah and I met, we clicked instantly. We fought our way through traffic to make it to Mao’s Kitchen, buying a bottle of incredibly cheap wine on the way (it was BYOB). While Sarah liked the atmosphere of the restaurant, I thought it was pretentious. There was a “Mao’s Communist China” theme to the menu and all the dishes were creatively named after something from the period. For instance, the egg rolls were called “peasant rolls.” There was a “Gang of Four” fried rice. Call me overly-sensitive, but should you make Disneyland kitsch out of a regime where so many people were murdered?

But what do I know? The place was packed with trendy people. Maybe I should open up a trendy shish-kabob stand and sell young Hollywood types the Saddam Hussein Pita Sandwich.

As Sarah and I got drunk (actually, it was mostly me), the mood changed between the two of us. We stopped our joking and our gossiping about blogging. Our conversation became intimate, as it frequently does when a man and woman sit across from each other in a dimly-lit restaurant. Yes, you guessed it. I blabbed on and on about Sophia and she talked about her ex-boyfriend.

When I told Sarah that my wedding anniversary was the next day, she couldn’t understand why I didn’t go to New York to spend it together with Sophia. I explained that I asked Sophia SEVERAL TIMES if she wanted me to come to New York, and each time she said, “No.” Sophia told me that she was working long hours and didn’t want to get distracted by me, so I listened to her.

Sarah didn’t buy the story. She insisted that I SHOULD have gone anyway, despite what Sophia said.

“That makes no sense.” I said.

“To a woman it does,” she answered.

The next morning, I told Sophia about my conversation with Sarah.

“Sarah was right,” said Sophia. “You should have come to New York. We could have gone out for our anniversary.”

“But you told me explicitly NOT to come!” I cried. “I would think you would be pissed off at me if I just showed up.”

“I would be pissed off. Very pissed,” she answered. “But if I opened my door and you were there, holding flowers, I would be very impressed that you were there, despite what I said.”

“That makes no sense.” I said.

“To a woman it does,” Sophia answered.

Women — would you be kind enough to shut off you monitors for a second time so I can speak freely with the men? Thanks so much for you patience.

Men — WTF?! Do you hear that craziness?

I don’t understand women. Do you?

A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month: My Class Action Suit

Los Angeles: The Glamorous Life


A friend of mine once tried to start a magazine.   He explained to me how magazines became successful.  You take some niche topic (Golf, Fishing, Teenage Girls’ Fashion, Investing,  New York City Upscale Mothers) and you write articles which make your readers feel insecure.  This way, they’ll continue to read your magazine and buy your advertiser’s products, hoping that ONE DAY they could be as successful as the person on the cover.

I pretty much use the same technique here at Citizen of the Month.   I know that for many of you living in god-forsaken places such as Montana, Pittsburgh, and Staten Island, I must be the single most glamorous person you’ve ever encountered.   After all, I live in the star-studded entertainment capital of the world — Los Angeles.   I open my shades every morning and hear the birds singing, smell the ocean air, and see Lindsay Lohan walk her dog.  My life is all about glamour.  Sometimes, I think of quitting blogging.  But then I remember all the “little people” — people like you — the ones who depend on a little elegance and sophistication to add meaning to their small-town lives.    You can easily compare me to a Fred Astaire movie of the 1930’s — top hats, champagne, and Cole Porter — letting the sad, Depression-era audiences have a little bit of taste of “The Good Life.”

My Sunday began like many others in the beautiful City of Angels.  As I awoke, a beautiful Hollywood actress walked out of my shower.  I admired her perfect naked body.  She was exotic, with a sexy foreign accent. 

“Remember to watch Windfall on NBC this Thursday,” she said, reminding me about her upcoming appearance on TV.

“Of course, Sophia.”  I said.

Los Angeles.  City of Dreams.  The sun.  The beach.  Famous actresses. 

I was living my dream.  

“How about we go have some brunch?’  I asked her, as she combed back her hair, her highlights shimmering like the crown of a goddess.

“Sure.  Where?”

Those of you who live in boring places like Washington D.C., Atlanta, and Paris probably don’t understand that this is a complex question.  Los Angeles is filled with some of the most fabulous and cutting-edge restaurants in the country.  I know that for most of my readers, going “out” means shlepping over to “Mr. Pizza” at the mall with the kids.  But for someone like me, going out means choosing from one of the hippest and trendiest eateries in town.  For us Angelenos, eating out is important.  Like clubbing and shopping on Rodeo Drive.  You need to be part of the scene.  “See and be seen” is our motto.

“How would you like to check out ‘Chicago for Ribs’?” I asked my naked actress friend.

“Is it any good?”

“I have no idea.  But I received a two-for-one coupon in the mail.”

“Cheapskate, as usual”

Although I don’t mind using a coupon (Men: only use a coupon ONCE you’re married), I’m always embarrassed giving it to the waiter.  What to do?  Make you wife do it.

“Here’s the coupon.”  I said, as we entered Chicago for Ribs, trying to shove the coupon into Sophia’s hand.

“Be a man for once in your life.  You give him the coupon!”

I sighed.  Sophia was right.  How difficult can it be to give someone a stupid coupon?

We were greeted by Frank, the maitre d’ (can you call the guy who takes you to your booth in Chicago for Ribs a maitre d’?) .  He was a sourpussed man in his forties who looked like he took a summer job at Chicago for Ribs in 1980 and never left.

“You should give him the coupon NOW,” said Sophia, as we went to our table.  “They like to get it before you order.”

I hemmed and hawed.

“Give it to him now,” she repeated.

As we sat, I showed the coupon to Frank.

“I received this coupon in the mail.  Is it OK to use it today for lunch?”

“Yes.  I’ll take it. ” The stone-faced maitre d’ replied, not really giving a shit.

Our waiter approached.

“Hi, I’m Jamal!” he said with a smile.  Finally — someone friendly!

Sophia ordered beef ribs, with side dishes of corn and coleslaw.  I ordered chicken, with side dishes of baked potato and beans.   Originally I was just going to order a sandwich, but since Sophia ordered something for $12.95, it was mathematically important that I order something for the same price — or the whole point of a two-for-one coupon is lost.

The meal was both decent and mediocre.  Real BBQ lovers would have probably thrown the “Chicago-style ribs” from the top of the Sears Tower.  But Jamal was a nice guy, who kept on refilling our iced tea.  Jamal also had great teeth. 

We received the bill.  It was $35 dollars, with drinks.  There was no discount for our two-for-one coupon.  I looked over at Sophia.

“No way!  You handle it, once in your life.” she said.

I waited for Jamal to return.

“Um…  We wanted to use a coupon with this.”  I told him.

“Sure.  Just give it to me and I’ll take care of it.”

“Um…  Actually, we already gave the coupon to the other guy when we first walked in.”

“Who?  Frank?”

“I think so.” 

“OK, I’ll ask him for it.”

A few minutes later, Jamal returns, shaking his head.

“Frank said you never gave him a coupon.”

“Isn’t Frank the guy at the door?”


“I’m positive I gave it to Frank when we sat down.”

Sophia was getting impatient with my method of “taking care of things.”

“Could you bring Frank over here, please?!” she asked.

Jamal returned with Frank.   This was the same sourpuss who I gave the coupon.

“You didn’t give me any coupon.” he said.

“Of course he did!” said Sophia.

“I told you I got it in the mail,” I added sheepishly, hoping he’d remember our conversation.  “I asked you if we could use it at lunch…”

“And I told you ‘yes.'” Frank said.  “But I never took the coupon.”

I quickly went through all my pockets, emptying everything onto the table.

“I’m POSITIVE I gave you the coupon.”

“I SAW him give it to you,” said Sophia.

“I don’t have it.”  said Frank.  “And I really need that coupon for accounting purposes.   Let me check in the back one more time.  Although I certainly don’t remember you giving me any coupon…”

Sophia and I were left there with Jamal.  Sophia was getting pissed.

“What is the big deal with this goddamn coupon?  Do we look like we would sneak in here, couponless, and FAKE having a coupon?” 

Jamal smiled.

“Don’t worry.  I’ll just take it off.   Frank loses everything ALL THE TIME.  The only reason he works here is that cousin is the owner.  Frank’s a moron.”

Jamal took $12.95 off of the menu and we went on our merry way.  

The rest of the day was equally as fabulous.  We went to E-Z Lube and got an oil change.  At night, I played in a high-stakes Texas Hold-em tournament with five women.  At the end, I beat an eighty-two year old grandmother in heads-up action.  I won the $100 pot.   The grandmother deserved to lose.  She was a card shark.

I do LIVE the LIFE!   Don’t hate me because I’m glamorous.


A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month:  Learning from Barbra Streisand

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial