21 December 2014


     Sometime in the past twenty years or so, it became de rigueur for a restaurant server to check in with a table after the food arrives, and ask, "How is everything tasting?"  This has irritated me from the first time I ever heard it.  I could never quite put my finger on why it bothers me so much.   Does it focus too much on the food and not enough on the rest of the dining experience?  This is a possible factor.  As a server myself, I have probably wondered about this far more than any rational person should.  I have not-so-silently nursed this pet peeve for many years, and deeply pondered the way it annoys me.  I have been waiting on tables (and cars) off and on since I was 15, but I have never drunk this particular Kool-Aid.  I ask my customers, "How is everything here?" or some variation on that theme.
     We'll go out to eat, and inevitably, the question comes: "How is everything tasting?" My longsuffering husband will smirk at me across the table, knowing full well what's happening in my brain.  I find myself creating, and then (usually) stifling, snarky retorts.  "It's not tasting anything (anymore); it doesn't have a tongue." "It tastes great, but it's cold," and so forth.   I have been known to write tirades about it on the back of a guest check (note:  I am always careful to rest blame on whoever taught the server to say it, not the server, personally, unless the service also sucks; then, all bets are off).
     Last night, as we sat at a Perkins, the unwitting server dropped the "tasting" bomb, and after he walked away, everything came together for me. It was something I had known all along, as evidenced by those retorts I created, yet the reason rattled around, unarticulated,  in my subconscious just out of my grasp until it finally decided to reveal itself last night.  The phrase bothers me so much because when servers say it, they are using a transitive verb in an intransitive manner.  It was a headslap moment.  Duh!  The reason for my undue irritation all these years is that this particular infraction takes place at the intersection of my superior server and grammar Nazi personalities.  To get more complete information, you can go here, here (This one has "snarky" in the title! Bonus!), or here. Allow me to sum up with a couple of examples: I am tasting my food; it isn't tasting anything, unless I am a very bad hunter, in which case, my (intended) food might actually be tasting me.  When you use the verb "tasting," it needs to take an object or it just doesn't work, no matter how often you repeat it.  It tastes (intransitive) just fine, thank you (or maybe not, but I digress).
     This epiphany will not stop me from continuing to rail against this grammatical infraction; in fact, it will likely rally my spirit to fight against the verbal abomination with renewed vigor!  Now, dear reader, you will hopefully never hear it again without recalling this information, and it will bother you, too!  Together, we can stop this grammatical travesty from becoming further ingrained in the vernacular.  This use is not as firmly lodged as "15 items or less," so we should yet be able to undo the damage.  Twenty years is but a mere blip in the evolution of language.  There's still time to nip this in the bud, one poor, unaware server at a time.

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