#94: The Agony and the Ecstasy of Gene and Georgetti

December 3rd, 2012

It’s just a steak.

It’s a good steak, no doubt. A filet mignon nearing $50, aged well, broiled simply and served with a minimum of fanfare.

But it’s just a steak. Except for the man sitting with his daughter. They’re talking about the colleges they’re visiting. They’re spiffed and prettied, in from the suburbs for a final meal with dad and daughter. It means a lot to them. You can tell.

It’s also not just a steak for the old guy in the argyle sweater, the one taking his slickster-looking grandson out for a meal. He briefly tries to introduce the girl to his grandson before finding out she was still in high school.

He’s a glad-handing old duffer. It takes him 10 minutes to move from his table in the dining room, past the bar, to the door. He chats with must be a half dozen people in that 10-yard distance. He slaps shoulders and gives man-hugs.

His slickster grandson in the suit jacket over a white T-shirt takes notes. He promises the steakhouse’s GM that “We’ll get together soon” and gives an oily hug-handshake. He’s not as good at this as his grandpa yet. He still gives the impression of grease and need. But he’ll get it. You can tell.

The bar is dark wood draped in the garlands and lights that say it’s nearing Christmas. Some people wear jeans, others suits. The bar is full of regulars. Everyone knows everyone.

An owner type loudly curses out the general manager, yelling “Put your apron on and take off that suit!” Apparently, the GM gave an employee the night off, the bar got swamped and then the GM sauntered in wearing a nice suit.

The owner repeats the story a few times to the gathered regulars. He tells the “put your apron on” line louder each time, throwing in a few “fuckings” for effect. The story gets better the more he tells it.

The steak is good. The waiters are old professionals — no one here is just doing this till their improv troupe takes off. One seems angry as he takes the drink orders.

It’s just an old steakhouse with filet mignons nearing $50, with old duffers glad-handing and telling tales at the bar, with dads and daughters and couples laden with recent Christmas holiday shopping purchases sitting down in jeans or suits for a big hunk of meat, expertly aged and cooked. It’s just a little bar on a little night in a town that’s huge but seems small and familiar when you’re in a place like that, where the old timers know everyone and the owner feels free to chew out the GM in the open and the GM gives him shit right back because, hey, you can do that here.

As dads and daughters share confidences and old duffers teach the young’uns how to glad hand, as crabby old professionals take drink orders and package-laden shoppers take a load off, the meal is served.

It’s just a steak, aged well and served with a minimum of fanfare.

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You are currently reading #94: The Agony and the Ecstasy of Gene and Georgetti by Paul Dailing at 1,001 Chicago Afternoons.

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