Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Social Etiquette - Kid's Menu

As you may have seen from our prior posts (see: “Half-and-Half”) I struggle with what I call “moral grey areas.”  Well, I don’t really struggle with them as much as I like to find a way to rationalize my own desired outcomes.

You also probably know that Christian and I both have kids (not together...his and mine...their different...separate...TWO SETS), and as a result are both very familiar with Kid’s Menus at dining establishments. Most of the time the menus are pretty standard...mac-n-cheese, chicken strips, hamburger...but sometimes you find a place where the children’s menu just shines! I’m not going to tell you where those places are--that’s not what this post is about--but I do have a question for you:  

Is it okay to use your own children as a foil when ordering in order to eat, as a grown adult, off of the children’s menu?

I’m going to kick it right off by saying YES, and telling you in advance that if you disagree with me you’re wrong and this blog is DEAD to me. So really I want you to tell me WHY I’m right, and thus assuage my slightly conflicted feelings. I’ll get it started for you...

Christian: Well, Pat, I couldn’t agree with you more because...

Christian (the real one): Hey hey, don’t go putting words in my mouth. How dare you? Anyways... Well, Pat I couldn’t agree with you more because who do these people think they are? How dare they discriminate against what we can order off their menu based on our age. That’s like racism but instead of race it’s age. There should be a word for that.

Wait. Hold the phone. Are these people preventing you from ordering off the kids menu or are you just too embarrassed to order off the kids menu so you say it’s for your kid? Now I’m confused as to who is being the racist here. Is it you or is it your kids?

Pat:  Well...they are preventing me by IMPLYING on their menu that you have to be a kid to order that dish. So I think they ARE being racist, but it’s more like institutional racism, the lighter kind where you don’t know that you’re being a jerk. I don’t blame them, I blame our larger food culture.

Yes, I’m embarrassed, okay, but that doesn’t mean they should make me pay more money for a “pasta con quattro fromaggio” when a bowl of mac-n-cheese from the kid’s menu will do the job (and probably taste better). Are you not backing me on this one anymore?

Christian: No, I’m still on your side.

For now.  

First off, I don’t think you should be embarrassed to order off the kid’s menu. My grandma does it all the time. I also have a great Aunt that does it along with her senile friend. And I know this guy that will sometimes order off of it for his old decrepit dog that can’t use it’s hind legs and only eats human food. So you’re fine.

Secondly, even if you do use your kid as a foil, are you sure you’re really fooling anybody? I’m assuming your kid still wants to get their own meal right? So are you ordering them two meals and you don’t order anything? Doesn’t the waitperson usually check in on things (e.g. to see if you need more water)? Don’t they see you eating the kid’s meal at some point?  

What I’m getting at is that you actually may look more kooky by trying to hide the fact that you are ordering off the kid’s menu than if you just went ahead and did it openly. I think it’s time you came out of this ordering-off-child’s-menu closet. Then maybe someday it will be legal for you to get married in this state.

P.S. I’ve also seen foreign travelers that can’t speak or read any English accidentally order off the kid’s menu too, so buck up little camper.

Pat:  I see what you’re getting at, but I don’t think it’s that easy, and I’m going to venture a guess that the Foodservice Workers of America are with me on this one.

If I am going to be 100% honest, with you and myself,, I don’t think I’m fooling anyone. They know, and I know they know, and they know I know they know that I am just a cheap-ass diner trying to bilk the system by eating large portions of unhealthy (but TASTY!) food at low cost. And they let me do it because it’s printed on the kid’s menu, and it’s easier to just go with it than to challenge me and risk causing a scene.

If I did it openly, then they would have to acknowledge that I acknowledged that I KNEW what I was doing and therefore they would not be able to let me do it. Dig?

There is a very fine thread holding together the stability of our dining culture, Christian. I, for one, do not want to mess with that thread. But I cannot pass up ordering three fried chicken tenders with sauce on THEIR menu that are half the cost of the three herbed-breaded chicken fingers with dipping aioli (Psst! They’re the SAME THINGS!) on MY menu. It’s just not that easy!

Christian: I’m picking up what you’re laying down here. I say do what you have to do to get those cheap chicken tenders while preserving the fabric of our society.

Pat: Right. Should I bother to ask if it’s okay to engage in such ordering if the kids aren’t even with me?


  1. So, Pat what's your next money saving tip? Steal food from kids? I like the way you think!

  2. Might just be, Megiweg! My moral foundation, as you have seen, is built on the sturdiest of sandstones.

  3. I have a friend who had gastric bypass surgery and the doctor gave her a business card thingy that says that she should be "allowed" to order from the child's menu because her stomach is now the size of a walnut.

    Just print up some fake cards, problem solved. I'm gonna print some that say I should be "allowed" a free meal because my credit limit is the size of a walnut. People will do anything a doctor tells them to, right??

  4. @Tumbleweed - Right. Which is why I don't understand why more doctors don't rob banks.