Our favourite waiter came to our table as we were paying the bill after another spectacular meal today.
"So long, this is going to be my last day!" he said.
We looked at him in horror.
And it gets worse. "By the way, I think the chef is quitting too."
Now, where are we going to eat?
The older we get, the less we appreciate surprises. Not that we particularly liked surprises when we were younger. Back then, we were just healthier and less likely to get heart attacks when surprises were unleashed. So Mom, if you are reading this - the "Secret Santa" reindeer sweater three sizes too big that I received (when everyone else got Cabbage Patch kids and Mr. Men colouring sets) was not the "surprise" I really wanted to experience.
Generally, we suspect that the ratio of "good surprise" to "horrible surprise" is about 1:100, despite all good (or not) intentions of the "surprise-giver". Yet, people persist in promoting their surprises to us like, as the Cantonese expression says, "It's your lucky day! Here's advantage for you!" How about this thought: Saying something is a "Surprise!" is like extravagant gift wrapping - the item lying inside all those bows and sparkly paper is more likely to be a cheap Dollarama bath set that would give you hives - than a brand new Corvette.
So...please, no more surprises in Tango! We don't want to go to our favourite traditional milonga and find that the orderly, pleasant and considerate regulars have been replaced by hyperactive Nuevoists hell bent on flipping all the drinks off the tables with their high kicks. We don't want to settle into a dreamy tanda of Di Sarli with Duran only to find that track 3 and 4 of the tanda are Canyengues, or a contemporary "interpretation" of Di Sarli. We don't want to look forward to a pleasant night of dancing only to find that the floor is covered in plastic and pivoting on it would wrench the ligaments right out of your knees (yes, that has happened too in Toronto).
And most of all... we don't want surprise DJs, or surprise performances! TELL US if you are going to have such-and-such a DJ, we have heard most of the DJs in town and some of their music gives us headaches. Ditto "surprise" performances by dancers we don't want to watch - we don't care if they have been regular attendees of your milonga or if they have selflessly devoted themselves to the promotion of Toronto Tango for decades - all the good words in the world would not justify your taking away our right to choose whether to watch crap, or not watch crap (and have to wash out our eyes afterwards). If you are going to invite the Crazy Chicken Lady or the Hokey Pokey dancers (or even Fabio) to perform, we think we have the right to know first! We have to drive an hour downtown to a milonga, look for a parking spot for another fifteen minutes, pay for parking, and then walk ten minutes to the venue in subzero temperatures - the last thing we want is an unpleasant "surprise" sprung on us at the last minute to ruin our entire weekend. We could have avoided it all and had a better evening at home, you know!*
* "Hey, just received an email from tonight's milonga organizer! Thank God, ___________________ [very good Toronto Tango instructors and performers] are going to perform tonight. Why didn't they say so earlier? All that hinting before about "Surprise!" by the organizer was putting us off - NOW, knowing who is going to perform, we can go to tonight's milonga. If we didn't receive this email - and given the dismal "surprise performer!" track record of this milonga, I shudder to think the last performance we saw there - we would really have stayed at home!"**
** "Please God, we hope that the organizer has abandoned all "Surprises!" and there will, truly, be no surprises tonight!"