Thank you, George W. Bush, for gaining me entrance
to The French Laundry.
to The French Laundry.
I have been trying to get reservations at the French Laundry for about two years. And when I say I have been trying, I mean seriously trying. I stay up until midnight trying to get a reservation, via opentable.com, months in advance. I sit poised next to the wireless router in Dave’s office, getting everything ready at 11:45 (entering in all of my info and adjusting my reservation request for 4:00pm, hoping it will search for a reservation at either of the two seating times) and then pressing RESERVE just before the stroke of midnight, wine glass in hand, and then cursing at my laptop when it tells me that there are no reservations available for that date. And then I still hit REFRESH at least forty times.
I have to do this cursing and stomping and whimpering quietly too, or Dave will know what I’m up to. Well, he might not know what I’m up to, but he might conjure up some interesting explanations for the funny noises he’s hearing while he’s asleep.
Anyways, I also call two months in advance for reservations too (which means I dial the number on my cell phone at 9:50 and then press SEND and then END and repeat), hoping that I’ll get through and someone will actually answer. Someone always does, but they usually get around to my call at about 10:05, at which time all the reservations for the day have been filled and I put my name on some list in hopes of a cancellation. No one cancels the French Laundry (so I thought), so month after month, year after year, I have a lackluster dinner at some other restaurant. Never with five exotic salt options, always thrown together haphazardly, never explained by one of five servers, and never enough wagyu. It’s a wonder I’m even still alive after eating so much bullshit restaurant food. Phooey!
So yeah, I have been doing this, faithfully, for about two years; night after night, morning after morning, pining away for the unattainable reservation at the best restaurant in the United States, only to get rejected every time I try. But this year, for Dave’s birthday, I really turned up the effort. I called twice as much, I internetted like crazy, and I enlisted the help of our close friends Tom and Denise. I finally conceded that the French Laundry was bigger than me and I was gonna need some help to get inside. So Tom and Denise agreed to join in on this effort, despite the outrageous cost, to make December of 2008 a month to fucking remember. Tom and Denise live in Petaluma, which is a lot closer to the French Laundry than LA. I figured they’d have some kind of home field advantage. Denise even went to the restaurant to try and make a reservation in person (after calling and putting her name on a list just like me). She tried finding anyone who might have some kind of association to the place via catering and restaurant connections, but October came and went and no reservations were made.
"Here is a photo of me after talking to the hostess and convincing them that we were really going to need a reservation," Denise wrote. "It is a funny photo, but shows my determination- we are going to get into that place. I am sure they thought I was a screwball because my scarf was longer on one side."
At one point I tried to pay someone to get me a reservation. No shit, I found a guy online who used to have a website that boasted about him getting reservations whenever he wanted and he’d accept money for that service. When I contacted him, however, he had since given it up (FUCKER!). I also tried booking reservations at hotels with fancy concierges that bragged about their ability to get reservations for their guests, but when I cornered them on the phone they wouldn’t make any promises. So I said nuts to that also.
I wasn’t giving up on my plan though. I booked us a sweet room in San Francisco so we could celebrate with some friends in the city for the first night of Dave’s birthday extravaganza. And then I booked us a sweet bed and breakfast (with a hot tub and a fireplace all to ourselves) in Yountville for a couple of nights. I don’t fuck around when I wanna vacation. Even Thomas Keller can’t stop me from shacking up in a hotel room with my old man when I want to. I made reservations at a couple of fancy pants restaurants for the weekend we were up there and decided to just suck it up. Dave might not be getting French Laundry for his birthday, but he’s getting blowjobs in a bed that we don’t have to make the next morning, by golly. And Napa’s got no shortage of good food so we’ll just have to go another night eating at a restaurant that’s not the best on the continent. What-everrrrrrrrrr.
Until… oh yes… until… I got a full on text, phone, email assault from our angelic, wonderful, miracle-working, remarkably good looking, well-rounded, genius-friends Tom and Denise, in Petaluma. About one week before our northern California adventure (on this day, actually) Denise got a call from the French Laundry and then called me at work to let me know the news. They called! They had a cancellation! They wanted to know if we would like to come for a lunch seating on – Oh my fucking God, hell yes I want a lunch seating! I would sell my first born child to Angelina Jolie for a lunch seating! – Friday.
What the fuck, Keller? I am driving to SF on Friday, my shit’s booked, I can’t get a refund, and even if I could I can’t drive all the way to Yountville by noon on a Friday. I have a job, dammit! How else am I gonna afford your $1000 menu? God fucking dammit. Fucking shit damn hell.
So I sadly told Denise to tell them we couldn’t take that reservation and I sulked in my office parking lot for a minute. As if being underpaid and underappreciated at my workplace wasn’t soul crushing enough, now I have to sit through the rest of the god damned day knowing that I was seconds away from the best experience of my life. Laaammmmmmmmmmmme.
My phone was ringing again. What the fuck? It was Denise and she said that when she declined on the Friday opening that the lady on the phone said that a Saturday cancellation just happened and asked if we’d like that. Would we wa-FUCK YES WE WANT THAT! HOLY SHIT WE WANT THAT AND WE WANT IT NOW. Oh hells yes, we were gonna eat at The French Fucking Laundry and Thomas Keller (Thomas fucking Keller!) was going to inspect each of our plates at the pass and we were going to talk about it more than we talk about our wedding or our trips to far off places. All those months of saving huge chunks of my paycheck and buying the generic brand of toilet paper were gonna pay off. Yes, yes, yes. I want to find the table that cancelled on that wonderful day and kiss all of them on the mouth. I know they probably cancelled because their fancy stocks plummeted or they got laid off because the economy’s bullshit right now and they probably have to sell their vacation home in Hawaii and I don’t care. Not one bit. In fact, I will slap George W. on the ass like he just made a touchdown for fucking up the economy so bad that a bunch of rich douche bags had to cancel their fancy pants luncheon, making possible for me, my husband, and our best friends to eat at The French Laundry. Beat that, Obama!