Oh, Yeah? So’s Your Old Man!

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I like to think of myself as a sparkling conversationalist.  In fact, I get more brilliant the farther away I get from the actual conversation.

When out to dinner with friends one evening, I noticed I was charged for a drink that was never delivered.  “I believe this total is wrong.” I said to the cashier when I went to pay.

“Were you overcharged?” She asked.  Before I could answer, another waitress, who had come up to the register to get change, chimed in with a snort, “Of course!  You don’t think she’d mention it if the bill was LESS than it was supposed to be, do you?”

As a matter of fact, I’ve done that many times. I try to be scrupulously honest about such things.  Thinking quickly, I fired off a scathing reply designed to put the impertinent waitress in her place.

“Well, well” I sputtered  “yes!  Yes I would…I mean, I do that all the time…it’s just that THIS time…it just so happens I WAS overcharged…but that doesn’t mean I WOULDN’T say something if, you know, it was the other way around, instead.  Cuz I SO totally would.”

I had been caught with my mental pants down.  Afterwards, I rehashed the conversation out loud in the car and did a slow burn.

“The NERVE of that waitress!” I said indignantly to the car radio, “Implying that I wasn’t honest. What I SHOULD HAVE said was…”

I tried out alternative SHOULD HAVES all the way home.

  • Withering sarcasm
  • An explanation of my policy of scrupulous honesty
  • A lecture on the right way to treat customers if you want them to come back

Although I was eloquently brilliant in each scenario, withering sarcasm was the clear winner.  By the time I got home, it was the snarky waitress who had been reduced to a blithering, stuttering idiot, not me.  My rapier-like wit had torn her to shreds.  Chances are good that, after another week or so, the new version will be the only one I remember.

DID morphed into SHOULD HAVE and back into a whole new version of DID.

It’s not that I’m deliberately lying –  my fickle brain, assisted by my fragile ego, tends to remember only those versions of reality that are flattering.

I’m going to have to be more careful in the future, and guard against a tendency to “gild the lily” to make myself look good. At least, that’s what Oprah advised when we were talking about this the other day.

(Commander McBragg)

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R-A-M-B-L-I-N-G-S, Ram...Blin!
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70 Responses to Oh, Yeah? So’s Your Old Man!

  1. misswhiplash says:

    one resturant I would not visit another time

    • pegoleg says:

      Too right, Miss P. Maybe I should have gone with the lecture on good service instead of the witty sarcasm (in my revised, afterwards version of the conversation.)

  2. dorannrule says:

    This so perfectly describes those of us who think of the right responses – later. I’m with you on this for sure! A very funny-but-very-true post. :)

  3. Dana says:

    You know what they say about history being written by the winners. Well, it’s also re-written by the losers until they sound like total winners! That’s how it goes with me as well. I always sound SUPER AWESOME… long after actual situations have passed… and after many, many mental revisions. :)

    • pegoleg says:

      Haha! Too true, Dana. History is being re-written all the time, isn’t it?

      I wrote this post because it dawned on me how much of my time and mental effort I was expending on something that had ALREADY happened! I thought I was the only one who did that.

  4. What a great phrase: “caught with my mental pants down.” That has so many uses – bound to be picked up by politicians?
    Great post

  5. Audrey says:

    Ah, a fellow sufferer of “after-wit”! It’s terrible isn’t it? All the brilliance of my small mind shines forth long after the conversation has come to a close – the best comebacks reach me when I’m nicely tucked in bed and no one is around to hear them. It starts to feel like a question of “If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” only my version goes something like, “If Audrey comes back with a scathing retort eons after it could be put to use, is she witty?

  6. I’m so glad you agreed to allow me to borrow this for my About page:

    It’s not that I’m deliberately lying – my fickle brain, assisted by my fragile ego, tends to remember only those versions of reality that are flattering.

    What? You don’t remember that agreement? Funny. That’s how I remember it.

  7. This is the second blog post I’ve read today about thinking of good comebacks when it’s too late! I think a lot of people do what you’re suggesting and recount the story to others pretending that they actually said the thing that they only thought of saying about half an hour later!

  8. Keep watching episodes of Commander Bragg and you’ll be prepared for any situation. Just be sure to have a pipe. Every person with a good comeback needs a pipe to place in and out of her/his mouth at perfect intervals.

  9. Laura says:

    There’s a theory that there are infinitely many parallel universes, and that anything that can happen, does happen in one of them. So you’re not lying; you’re just describing events in another universe.

    • pegoleg says:

      Laura, are you a lawyer in “real” life? Either that or a motivated 10-year-old who just got caught in a lie.

      • Laura says:

        I considered becoming a lawyer for about 15 seconds when I was a freshman in college, but that’s as close as I ever got. Unless you count the dream I had that I was on my way to take the bar exam, and I suddenly realized that I’d completely forgotten to go to law school.

  10. I’ll I’ve ever got is the ‘I’m like rubber and you’re like glue’ thing.
    People seem to respect that.

  11. mercyn620 says:

    i am infinitely more witty and smart after the event. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night with a fantastic comeback!

  12. In the words of Seinfeld’s George Costanza: “The Jerk Store called… they ran out of you!”

  13. Dammit! I totally wish I’d thought of the “getting caught with my mental pants down” phrase.

    This post is the story of my life. Sometimes I think of a clever comeback days later! Jim doesn’t understand it, why I let these things fester in my brain. I rehash a conversation and think of what I should have said. For him, once the conversation is over he forgets it completely. Must be nice.

  14. mistyslaws says:

    I find that in face to face combat, um contact, I tend to get flustered and can never spit out that witty retort that I want to bring my opponent to their knees. Yet, in writing, I am better. A friend told me the other day that I am really good at perfect text comebacks. So at least I have that.

  15. Doug says:

    I’m simply going to comment with l’esprit de l’escalier because you guys must have a poll on who would so comment. I love restaurant stories. We once were having dinner out and half way through out server was fired.

    Nice post.

  16. johndburns says:

    I have to be careful with my tounge. I was parked illegally and a traffic warden marched up. He pointed menacingly at a space clearly marked, “Loading Bay,” where I obviously should have parked. He then demanded of me, “What does that say? What does that say?” For future reference the correct response to this question is not, “Oh I’m sorry can’t you read.” I now know this, it cost me £60.

  17. I tend to have long, imaginary talks while rambling through the woods with my dogs. 1) I am always brilliant and 2) it’s always too late to do me a bit of good. Great post!

  18. List of X says:

    That’s one of the main reasons people keep blogs: having something witty to say doesn’t always correspond with having your target audience in front of you.
    By the way, what was that withering sarcastic remark you thought of? Some of us could find ourselves in the same situation tomorrow.

  19. Elyse says:

    But the stories are sooooo much better when you remember it like it should have happened. And we are story tellers. So these are not lies, they are stories. And that sounds much better, don’t you think?

  20. Carrie Rubin says:

    My comebacks always come at the worst times, too, usually when I’m trying to fall asleep at night. Then again, maybe that’s the mind’s defense mechanism. Who knows what we might spout out on the spur of the moment if the sarcastic but witty retort came to our lips too quickly? ;)

    Thanks for visiting my site. I appreciate it!

  21. 20/20 hindsight. The wittier the response, the more painful it was that you couldn’t think of it sooner. Revisionisthistory is the way to go. I’m convinced that some of the most historically famous snappy comebacks were in fact fabricated and then reinserted. I’m sure Dorothy Parker and Oscar Wilde were incredible wits, but no one hits a home run every time.

  22. Yep, that’s me, too. I’m always on point with the wittiest comeback — a week later. When I was in high school I worked as a cashier and a customer was annoyed at the long lines. He started getting nasty and said, “I’m paying your salary.” Even my snarky teenage self couldn’t come up with a comeback in the moment.

    And it continues to this day… I just thought of a great comment to a post you wrote in January. :)

  23. susielindau says:

    I have given up on witty come backs. They usually come to me with brilliance moments after…

  24. Sandy Sue says:

    But.. but… what *was* that snarky comeback you finally crafted? Oh, Sensei, reveal to us your wisdom!

  25. My family probably thinks I’m a blooming idiot at times. Out of no where when I think of that witty comeback, I’ll raise my arm high, tighten my first, bend my arm down and shout “YES!”
    “Huh? What was that, Mom?”
    I usually do that in the car or at home…not out in public. But it feels soooo gooood.

  26. So good to know we all suffer from this same problem from time to time.

  27. pattisj says:

    I can’t believe the waitress would even say that! I’m sure the Peg-O-Meter was pegged out.

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