Laws must be broken.
Some of them.
Those laws which pre-empt the role of a parent.
Or the role of a micro-society.
I am going to present a case to you that demands such scofflaw.
I owned and operated a restaurant in Boston for many years.
No longer in existence.
This situation developed at that restaurant.
Here is an excerpt from “Dom’s, an Odyssey,” a book I published perhaps ten years ago.
See the “Books for Sale” page on the blog.
Salads at Dom’s were prepared and served tableside by a corps of twelve-year-old boys, our ‘cart kids,’ who were also responsible for tableside service of pasta, the cheeseboard, and desserts from our fleet of dining room carts.
Professional able service of these courses was another component of our customers’ dramatic experience, and the youth of the servers added romance to the experience.
We dressed these young men in identical Italian-designed clothes: white shirts with the sleeves rolled up to just-below-the-elbow, black dress pants, and black and white thin-striped ties.
If their socks and well-shined shoes were black, they could choose their own.
My then twelve-year-old son, Dom, inadvertently originated the idea of using youngsters on the carts.
My three sons all worked informally at the restaurant as bussers, clearing tables, pouring water, filling bread baskets. Simple, unobtrusive duties.
Totally familiar with Dom’s salad service Dom was – we had the identical after-dinner salad at home almost every night; son Chris loved the salad course and never let his mother forget it.
On this inspirational night, Dom noticed a table waiting too long for their salad course.
Unbidden, he wheeled the armed salad cart over.
The salad cart, equipped with a bowl of salt, a pepper mill, a yellow pyramid of lemons, a large bowl of alert Bibb lettuce leaves, a small knife, attractive bottles of Italian extra virgin olive oil, freshly-peeled garlic, a garlic press, chilled salad plates, and an extra-large French olive-wood salad bowl with matching serving fork and spoon.
The cart practically made the salads without human help.
But not really.
Dom lightly-pressed a garlic clove and rubbed it on the inside of the bowl, dropping the wasted clove into a dedicated tiny wasted-garlic clove bowl.
After filling the scented bowl with whole Bib lettuce leaves, he deftly but carefully poured the oil over the leaves, added a pinch of salt, and several gratings of black pepper.
Years of experience. Literally.
He tossed the lettuce until well-coated with the oil and spices.
Cutting a lemon in half, he squeezed the juice over the oil-protected lettuce leaves and tossed the salad again.
Serving went as smoothly.
Dom flipped the cart’s folded leaves up, dealt out four salad plates, and filled each with a single, practiced grab of the serving fork and spoon.
He set a plate in front of each diner and ended his service by exhorting the table to “Enjoy,” before returning the cart to the station.
In his first at bat, my underaged son had expertly made and served four lovely salads, in less than a minutes, in full view of the admiring dining room.
His spontaneous, matter-of-fact response, timely and graceful, won everyone’s praise.
The customers loved it.
I was proud.
And the waiter was grateful, especially when I told him not to offer Dom any money for his help.
Dom now the first cart kid.
How’re you gonna keep them back on the farm…?
One of the wait staff asked if we could find another such position for his also twelve-year-old brother.
And then my favorite cook, Tina Perriera, asked if we could give her son a job like that, too.
And the ‘use-my-child’ rush was on.
We needed a team-back.
We will continue this story very soon.