i'm off to dine in a snooty new york restaurant. i make my way there on foot, dodging taxicabs, flying litter, and hell-bent pedestrians. when i arrive, i see that the maitre d' is on a sort of mezzanine. there don't seem to be any stairs, but all the seating is banquettes, and each is about a foot higher than the next. it looks to me like the only way up is to clamber over the bench backs and the diners. i call up to the maitre d' to confirm this. "yes, yes" he says impatiently, in a thick french accent, and he gestures imperiously for me to ascend.
i am as careful as i can be, but it's still quite disruptive to the various seated diners. the backs of the seats are flat, about six inches wide, and covered with cocktails-in-progress, plates, and the occasional handbag. it's a challenge to pick my way over/amid them, but i'm almost to the top level. i am going to need to step onto a seat, up and onto the seatback, down onto the opposite-facing seat, and then down onto the floor of the upper level of the restaurant. the back of that final banquette is covered with stacks of cds in cases, and there are diners sitting on the high side.
i ask a couple of times for one of the waiters to move some of the piled-up cds, and then finally, exasperatedly, i slide a bunch of them off the seatback with the side of my foot, so that there's a place for me to set my foot. as the cds topple, an outraged howl arises from the maitre d', the waiters and the diners. the maitre d' berates me -- as does a botoxed and bejeweled society matron -- saying that i have "smashed beyond repairrrr" a stack of cassettes and that "ze full and complete replacement cost of $182.50" is going to be added to my dinner bill.
given how careful i was, i don't believe that i broke anything. none of the cases are broken. i manage to get down off the damn banquette (picking my way between the diners), and insist on looking at the purported damage. at first the maitre d' won't let me see the stuff, and we get into a shouting match about it. i insist that i'm not going to pay for something i didn't do. he keeps blaming and berating me, "why did you climb ovair zat way", "eet is your clumzeeness zat caused zis", and i lose my temper and yell, "you *told* me to climb up. i *asked* you if that was the right way to get up here and you said 'yes'! i was doing what *you* told me to do!"
eventually, mme. botox hands me a couple of the cassette cases, and i can hear things rattling around inside. i open one and sure enough, the cassette inside is shattered. i still can't imagine how a few cds falling 12" onto the cassettes could have caused that damage, and i insist that i'm not going to pay. i say, "go ahead, send me a bill", and the maitre d' says "but air you going to pay eet?!" and i say, "i don't know, i'm going to think about it", and we get into this spiral where we're repeating ourselves, louder each time.
finally i shout at the top of my lungs, "i wouldn't eat at this shithole restaurant if *you* paid *me*, you pompous charlatan, and you can take your 'full and complete replacement cost' and shove it up your ass!" i storm out of the restaurant and he follows me, brandishing a cordless phone and insisting that he's going to call the police and have me arrested. "make yourself happy, you fucker!" i scream at him, and i keep walking.
and then i woke up.