After three weeks, I have seen everyone who comes to a restaurant to eat. This list is perfect! It is exhaustive! It is complete!
You: You, O great and noble readers of my diary, are in a category by yourselves. You dine with grace and elegance. Your conversation twinkles like a dance of sparks. Your kindness falls upon the waitstaff like flower petals, and, after leaving your table, they dance slightly with joy, unless they are carrying heavy trays. While of course the scullions wash your dishes, such washing is not actually necessary for either aesthetic or sanitary reasons. If you ever came to Topol's Tovern, we would wriggle with delight, but, so far as we know, you never have done.
(No, I'm not exaggerating even a bit, you know.)
The Swiller: Not a bit like you is the Swiller, who comes to Topol's Tovern to booze down booze, to imbibe the imbibables, to paint the bridge red with grog, to roister with beakers, bowls, cannikins, chalices, and/or steins full of potent spirits and foaming brews. (Incomprehensible! Do they think that the Tovern is a tavern, simply because it's a tavern?) They quaff, they laugh, they swill down a bath! They belch forth fumy stenches; they sing forth fumy canticles! They dance upon the floor, waving their limbs about with careless abandon, so that our poor waitstaff must dodge diligently! But when they are reminded to pay, they sometimes pay quite well to apologize for their swilling-begotten awfulness, and then we are happy about The Swiller.
The Small Family: Neither like you is The Small Family, which consists of three or four parents devastatingly outnumbered by one small child. The child glowers; the parents cower. The child grumbles; the parents crumble. The child wails; the parents pale. From the child cometh all things. From the mouth, spittle and howls, and half-eaten sausage fragments. From other orifices, other substances. Upon the Tovern floors they all end up, and to the waitstaff falls the task of the cleaning. But when they are reminded to pay, they sometimes pay quite well to apologize for their child-begotten awfulness, and then we are happy about The Small Family.
The Large Family: The Large Family is like fifteen or nineteen Small Families stuffed at a single table, only with fewer parents, and the parents they do have are more drowsing than cowering. When they are reminded to pay, they never, ever pay quite well. They cannot afford to, with all of those children. When the Large Family arrives, our happiness departs.
The Demandress: "It is insufficient! It is incomplete! It is wrong! It is dirty! It is overcooked! It is undercooked! It lacketh a quarter-ounce! It is oversauced! It is undersauced! It is sprinkled with minced leaves, which disgusts me! It is served on a square platter, which disgusts me! I am allergic to the water that the eggs were boiled in! I am allergic to the air which the cook breathes! I must have three forks, for the Holy Trinity — the sweet, the sour, the salty!" The Demandress utters these words all before ordering, as if to make sure that every essential complaint has been complained early on. It gets worse from there. This we call the Battle of Three Forks, and we know that she shall pay punily. When the Demandress arrives, our happiness departs.
The Wealthy Aesthete: The Wealthy Aesthete wears garments (not clothes, but garments!) of aerophane and baldachin, madapollam and pashmina, reticella and sarsenet. He arrives at the door in a palanquin carried on the shoulders of four strong badgers, who must wear barras and drabbet and lockram — none of your commonplace cheap fabrics like denim and broadcloth in the service of the servants of the Wealthy Aesthete! Inside the Tovern, the Wealthy Aesthete knows himself to be slumming with the scum. He calls for the best, and sniffs at its crudeness. For him we have a special menu, with all prices greatly raised. This is not by way of exploiting him. If he paid our usual prices, he would find the food disgusting. When it is expensive, he finds it endurable, and even amusing in a rustic sort of way. We are careful to please the Wealthy Aesthete. Also we take his palanquin-bearers in the common room, and sell them weak cider and strong curry, and mock the Wealthy Aesthete with them.
The Confused Tourists: The Confused Tourists arrive in packs of size from one to one thousand. The more of them there are, the more confused they are. "Is this Wopol's Wovern?" they ask. "If it is a wovern, will it sting us with poisonous stinging?" — "No," we assure them. "It is Topol's Tovern, where the only stinging thing is the Prickly Cocktail, and certain dipping sauces for dumplings, which are delicious and available for reasonable prices." The Confused Tourist bobs — he wobs — he dibs and dobs. "Is this a museum?" he finally asks. — "No," we assure him, "It is a place where you may buy food and drink." The Confused Tourist wamps — he bamps — he dimps and damps. "But is it the site of a famous event?" he finally asks. — "Yes," we assure him. "The Battle of Three Forks happened here." — "Then I may stay and tour!" cries the Confused Tourist. "But I hunger, I thirst. How may these primordeal needs of mine be satisfied? How, I ask? How, how, how? Is there neither food nor drink on Gumdash! Surely this menu I am holding has nothing to do with the matter!" But when they are reminded to pay, they sometimes pay quite well to apologize for their confusion-begotten awfulness, and then we are happy about the Confused Tourist.
The Hungry Muncher: "Food, bring me food, quickly and now!" is the cry of the Hungry Muncher. So we bring dumplings, we bring muffins, we bring pots of sizzling stew. We bring scallops, whelks and frallops, and conch (though it is so hard to chew). We bring roasts and toast and ham-tarts and jam-tarts, we bring bird-with-rice and curd-with-spice. And the Hungry Muncher devours and gobbles and guzzles and comests! And then the Hungry Muncher belches forth a great belch. And when they are reminded to pay, they never pay all that well, but they have eaten so much food that the sum is decent, so of course we are happy about the Hungry Muncher.
Some of the more adventurously-minded waiters conjecture that this list is not complete. They hypothesize such rare birds as "The Generous Tipper", "The Lovestruck Couple", "The Dining Guildmasters", "The Thirsty Gulper", and many others. They say, even, that such people can be found at tables 13, 21, 19, and 13 again. I can't see those tables from my station at the window though, so they must not exist.
If Hditr hears of my attitude towards scientific research, she will braid my necks.