“The Best Tip I Ever Got”

“That’s so true though. You never know! I love that.

Yes, another bottle I think, right? Yes. Thank you.

Okay. So — wait — inspired by that, that inspirational tale, this is my story of the best tip I ever got.

This was at that place in West Hollywood. It was a weeknight, like a Tuesday, whatever, and I get a three top, kinda late. The main guy, a forty something rocker looking guy who everyone thought was maybe famous at some point in the nineties but nobody knows who he is, him and his wife. Nice people.

The third guy is something else. Younger, maybe thirty, wearing ultra-light sunglasses — indoors, at night — and a bluetooth earpiece. Looks a little like Louie Anderson, if he was playing some bizarre Hollywood bro character. Anyway, this guy, this Louie Anderson guy, was possessed. He was determined to make a show of spending money. Which, as the waiter, is just the absolute best. Like, I bring him his first cocktail, a julep, and he orders a second round before he even tastes it. I come back with that, it’s oysters for the table. Then shots for the table. For dinner, he gets the chateaubriand, which is basically filet mignon for two, for one. Just excessive. But it gets worse, when it comes out he asks me “So what champagne goes best with my steak?”

Which, right, none of them. With a Béarnaise sauce? No. Yes of course red wine, Cheryl, but, I’m not about to correct this guy, he’s bleeding money all over my table. Instead, I say “We have two by the glass, I’d recommend the Moet” Which of course is the more expensive of the two.

Anyway, okay, I suggest this glass of Moet, he says “Fuck that. We’re getting a bottle.” Hey, if this guy wants to be the big shot, great! I see my chance: “Well… sir, if we’re talking about a bottle, the Dom” — Dom Perignon — “is the best.” He loves it, he yells “Done! The Dom.”

The rockers are protesting, they don’t want champagne, they’re trying to talk him out of it, I’m trying to talk him into it, he yells “Done!” again and I’m about to leave to finally ring it in when he stops me. “Wait.” He’s looking at the menu, at the price. I’m thinking, here we go, it’s gonna be too much, even for him. He finds it on the list, nods, and says “Not the Dom regular though. The rosé.”

Well, the rosé is like seventy dollars more! Which means he looked at the menu, saw that I had suggested the second most expensive bottle, and made sure to up it to the most expensive bottle. Yes! But it gets better. So I get everything set up, I’m about to pull the cork, and Louie goes “Let me open it!”

Which is like, definitely not allowed. So I start “Oh, sir, I insist, Champagne of this quality — “ but he comes back with “I paid for it, I want to open it!” Which you can’t really argue with, it’s like eight hundred dollars, if he wants to spill it, it’s his money. Of course, he proceeds to yank the bottle open like he won the World Series, and a bunch of it foams over. He’s laughing as a couple hundred dollars of wine soak into the tablecloth. Then he splashes out three short, foamy glasses and slams the bottle into the ice bucket. The other two never even touch their glasses.

So, okay, you know, they eat. They drink. They step outside for cigarettes. They go to the bathroom. They go to the bathroom a lot. Whatever. He switches back to Juleps — In the end he had eleven juleps, I remember that. It was the only time I’ve ever asked a bartender to water down drinks, but, it’s just too much, you know? I can’t let him die.

Okay, okay: so, end of the night. They’re the only customers left. It’s super late. Even the kitchen has gone home. Their bill is about thirteen-fifty. I’m hoping for three hundred, wouldn’t complain about two fifty. Finally, at probably two AM — we close at one — at two AM I quietly drop the check and walk around the corner.

Louie follows me. He walks right up to me, swaying from all the whiskey, blow, champagne, steak, oysters, cigarettes sloshing around in there, he walks up and he asks me, “So what’s the best tip you ever got?”

Total landmine question. I’m like “Oh well, I don’t know, it’s kind of hard to say…” Avoiding the question, just trying not to say the wrong thing.

So he signs with a big flourish and presents it to me. Three hundred. Just as I had predicted. I make a big show of thanking him, shake his hand, all that. But all he wants to know is, “Is that the best tip you ever got?”

So I say, wait, get this, I say, “Well… it’s among the best.”

I know, I don’t know where I got the balls. I guess he was just so wasted I figured, I don’t know, but, whatever: it worked. He goes “Fuck that! It’s gotta be… the best tip… you ever… got!”, turns the 3 into a 4 and hands it back to me.

So, yeah, now I have to, I tell him it’s “Definitely the best tip I ever got.” He gives me a big bear hug, and a few minutes later they’re all out the door.

Okay, okay, yes it sounds like a lot. But, actually, it’s not the best tip I ever got, not really. Well, it’s like thirty percent, which, I’ve gotten higher percentages. And we tipped out forty percent there, so after tax, so my take was more like a hundred fifty. And have I put more than a hundred fifty in my pocket from one table before? Indeed I have.

So it’s not technically the best tip I ever got. But — wait, here’s the the thing: the reason I still say it’s the best tip I ever got is, they completely forgot about the mostly full bottle of Dom! Yup, me and the busboy, after they left, we drank it all out of plastic deli containers. Delicious. Best tip I ever got.”