I was 13 years old back in 1988. I know who Flo Jo and Greg Louganis are. I will never misspell potato. I remember President Reagan. I had a crush on Jessica Rabbit. I saw Rattle and Hum on my 13th birthday because it was rated PG-13. My girlfriend taught me to dirty dance, but I my guy friends were more into Def Leppard. I know for sure that Dan Quayle is no Jack Kennedy.
Yet, when I card someone and they were born in 1988, the math says that they are legal to drink. It doesn’t seem like 21 years ago in my head. It seems like a few years at best. It is a sign that I am getting older. When I started serving, 1973 was the magic year. I know this well because being able to convincingly turn a “75” into a “73” on a driver’s license with chalk and a mechanical pencil was worth ten bucks in my dorm. Everytime someone proudly shows me an ID with 1988 on it, my arthritis starts acting up.
The other downside of this long career is that the jokes I used starting out are no longer laughed at by most of my guests. I have retired jokes in the past due to menu changes. I miss serving duck. I never knew how to describe it, so I would often have to wing it. Guests who enjoyed it would never mind it being on their bill, even when I would serve it with a side of quackers.
As you can see the jokes may not have been particularly funny to begin with, but they were part of my repertoire. They were my go to jokes in any given situation. Alas, the blank stares of those without such a deep background of pop culture references from decades past have lead to this post. I am retiring some old jokes. They are like old friends. They served me well back in the days, but we live in different worlds now. While they remained dated, I have found new pop culture references that people enjoy.
When I would surprise a guest by having something ready that they hadn’t even asked for, they would often comment. My reply would be “My last job was working for my friend Dione Warwick for $2.95 a minute.”
If someone asked for Dr Pepper in a restaurant where we didn’t serve it, my reply was simple. “While I’m a Pepper and you’re a Pepper, (insert restaurant name) is not a Pepper too.” Someone in their 40s or 50s right now is laughing at that joke.
Occasionally, I would have to make a fresh pot of coffee for a guest. When I returned with the fresh coffee I would state, “to get coffee any fresher than this you would have to call Juan Valdez.” That joke was way before my time, but my Grandmother would make it every time she served coffee to her friends. As a matter of fact, forget that the joke doesn’t work. I miss my Grandma and I am keeping that one.
In the end it just wasn’t meant to be. I have grown and changed as a server. We have grown apart. They are classic, but times have changed. It is not their fault. It is me and not them. I am sure they will meet someone who appreciates them more and makes them happier than I ever could have. I hope we can still remain friends though.