This is a point I’ve made before but it bears repeating. We do not need to see the details of Max’s life, Jimmy. A better author would just say they went to dinner and be done with it. Or, if something of import was to happen in the restaurant, we would join them in mid-meal where the action was about to start. A good author would not force us to follow along with the characters as they go in, get seated, take a look at the menu and peruse the wine list. But we already know what kind of author Jimmy is, don’t we?
Not only do we do all that, we have to read about Max and them first going back to Central Park and then looking around for a place to eat. So they find a place called the Garden Tavern which max says is in a huge building looking over the park. Max says there’s lots of glass and that it’s a nicer restaurant and they won’t fit in but Gasman wants to go and she promised him anything.
First issue with that, I don’t know if this is a real place or not. I mean, I found a few places with that name via Google in New York but none of them are that close to Central Park nor do they overlook it. Which is fine, maybe it’s a faux brand like the toy store from earlier. But it seems pointless for him to bother naming a fake restaurant when it’ll be long forgotten in two chapters and never mentioned again.
Secondly, why does Gasman get excited about going there? The way Max describes it puts me in mind of a nicer place where slightly stuffy yuppies go to eat and drink wine minus a concierge. That doesn’t sound like the kind of place a kid like Gasman would want to go. I could see him wanting to go to a fast food place, the kind where they have a playground that he could run around on. Especially being as they’re supposed to be regular kids who like toys and teddy bears and such.
But because Jimmy demands the net scene take place in the restaurant, Gasman wants to go there and Max can’t say no. So head on inside to find the next plot point marked with a big flashing red X.
From the reception area, we could see three different dining rooms. There was the Prism Room, which
was dripping with crystals, basically: chandeliers, candelabras, faceted windows. Door number two led to the Garden Room, which was like a lush, overgrown rainforest, but with tables, chairs, and waiters. The third one was the Castle Room, for those of us who needed to feel regal while we chowed. They all had soaring ceilings with rafters. The Castle Room had an open fireplace big enough to roast a steer. I was glad to see we weren’t the only kids—though we were the only ones without a grown-up.
Yes, this sounds like exactly the kind of place an eight year old boy wants to go…if he was a young Warren Buffet. Ok, Jimmy. You really have to decide whether or not these kids are just like member of your targeted audience or different. Because them seem to bounce back and forth between being mutants or being characters directly out of a Disney show.
Prime example in this chapter when Max is relieved to be placed near the kitchen because it would make an easy escape route. It’s not true as kitchens are packed with people and stuff all aimed at making food but it shows she’s thinking like a paranoid. But right before that she tells the hostess that she’s treating everyone with her birthday money without thinking about it. That’s the kind of response that takes a cultural awareness Max can’t have developed growing up in a lab. Pick one or the other and go with it, Jimmy. As you have it now they come across like two characters stitched together with fishing line.
“Max, this is so, so great,” Nudge said excitedly, clutching her enormous menu. “This is the nicest
place we’ve ever eaten!”
Yes, we’ve established that. But why does Nudge think it’s so great? Shouldn’t she also be worried that being surrounded in a closed room make her vulnerable? What about Iggy or Fang, the kids old enough to remember what it was like growing up in the lab?
Anyway, the waiter comes over and takes their order. And instead of summarizing it and trying to impress on us how they’re going to eat a lot of food, we must agonizingly go through each character’s meal order. With the waiter constantly making objections about how they must have over ordered and they’ll have to pay for everything even if they don’t eat it.
Max gets snippy with the waiter and he storms off. Then she say an “underling”, as if she’s a sub henchmen for the waiter, brings them some bread skeptically. How you bring someone food skeptically, I’m not sure. Perhaps you put it on the table and give them a raised eyebrow and thin smirk before walking away. ‘Ha! I dare you to eat all that bread. I doubt you can, what with your implied gluten intolerance.’
So the next chapter has the waiter coming back with the manager. There’s a painful discussion where he borrows heavily from the Snooty Manager’s handbook and Max continues to be a snot. He suggests they go to some other restaurant and Max asks if they’re going to get served or not. The manager says not.
The manager looked like he had just sucked on a lemon. “Not, I believe,” he said, signaling to a burly
guy loitering by the doors.
Ok, so I’ll bite Jimmy. Is it extremely common for nicer restaurants to employ bouncers in New York? Becaue I’ve been in a few starred restaurants and I never saw any. Maybe it’s a New York thing and I just don’t understand.
What I failed to mention at this point is that Angel did a little mind reading earlier on the waiter. She told him they’re not spoiled brats, just hungry. Now she does it again to the manager.
Angel looked up at the manager. “Jason thinks you’re full of hot air and that you smell like a sissy,”
she said. “And what’s a bimbo?”
Right, see it’s funny because it what they’re thinking. The only problem being, Jason is an adult, presumably, and that’s not what an adult thinks about their boss. I think it’d go something more like this.
‘Max, what’s a douche?’
The manager’s eyebrows threatened to crawl up and over his head when he heard that. Angel had spoken in the unselfconscious way young kids do and everyone nearby had gotten quiet. All eyes were looking over at us now. I groaned and motioned for Angel to be quiet.
‘Miss, this is a family restaurant,’ The Manager said testily.
‘He said it.’ Angel said, pointing at Jason. ‘He said you’re a douche and that you like getting pounded hard. But why would a guy like getting beat up, Max?’
Part of me wanted to stifle her but I sensed an opportunity. ‘Yeah. We tried to place an order and he told us to piss off and when we asked for you he insulted you before walking off. You call this customer service?’
‘Yeah!’ The other kids chimed in together. The resentment in our voices wasn’t feigned in the slightest. I got louder as I went, getting angrier and more indignant. I was going against my instincts and drawing attention to us but the manager didn’t like it either, and whatever he didn’t like I loved.
‘Then you come over here and start refusing us service? Is this how you treat customers? I can’t believe it.’
The manager flushed in anger and embarrassment. He looked over at the people watching, Jason and then us. The expectant looks of the parents surrounding us were goading him on, just waiting to see how he’d handle this.
‘You have my deepest apologies. I’ll see to it that your order is placed,’ He said with a slight bow. ‘Jason, come with me.’
The manager stormed off with a nervous Jason in tow. The people watching seemed satisfied by what they saw and went back to their meals and conversations. We were back to being boring and in a bit we were going to eat. I allowed myself a smile. I felt like, somehow, we’d won something. It was pointless and didn’t matter in the long run but it felt good.
But that’s how I’d have written it. Well, if I were stuck writing these characters in this situation. I’m not though and so the exchange is that much more boring and pointless. Also, the moment is broken up by the cops showing up. And for once, even Max has to ask why the police are showing up seemingly at random. It’s bad when your characters start pointing at the holes in the story.