What could be more innocent than a restaurant-served beverage? Soothing and comforting when the cold winds blow and now, with summer coming, wet, tall and icy. But, also, last week so controversial.
Take the matter of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposal that the sale of super-size soft drinks be outlawed in his city.
It is meant to strike a blow against American obesity. Soft drinks are empty of just about everything except sugar-laden empty calories, and people drink a lot of them, frequently from large containers. So, if those containers weren't quite ready to hand or so convenient, people would not consume as many ounces, his honor says.
(Never mind that, as the mayor points out, thirsty folk could simply order two (or more) smaller drinks, thus littering their stomachs and the landscape with even more refuse. Never mind that some people are accusing Bloomberg of interfering with their rights or "nanny-ism" – there was a hilarious full-page ad denoting him in Mrs. Doubtfire garb.)
But the truth is that some eminent nutritionists think the idea might work, and they also think it's not a bad idea.
Gulp! We shall see.
Meanwhile, closer to home and a couple of weeks ago, liquid sustenance also can be a problem. In the column of May 23, I included an email from a women puzzled because she was charged for hot water in a restaurant board with stories of their own:
Marcia: "I had to smile at your article in today's paper regarding the charge for ‘hot' water!!! Imagine my surprise, 6 months ago, when I was in a North Tonawanda restaurant and I was charged for ice, having asked for Bailey's on the rocks. That was a first for me! Now when I order a Bailey's, I always ask if ice is an extra charge!!!"
But then there was this from Jack: "Once went to an Amherst restaurant and got charged 25 cents extra for a Coke because I ordered it without ice."
And this from Mary: "A friend and I went to a restaurant near Transit Road last week. We both ordered manicotti ($13.95), however my friend ordered a soda and I just ordered water. My friend was offered soup with her meal, but I wasn't. The reason? I didn't order a drink. FYI: The menu indicated that dinners came with a cup of soup. I haven't been to any other restaurant that holds back a part of the meal because the patron didn't order a beverage. Is this something new?"
And here's Norman: "I had to laugh at the item in your column about the woman that was charged for a pot of hot water. Several years ago at a now defunct restaurant I questioned why my glass of Coke was 25 cents more than was listed on the menu. I was told it was because I had ordered it without ice and they had to put more in the glass. Needless to say we never went back there. Their loss."
What else can I say about all this? Here's looking at you, kid, and bottoms up!