Christopher Hitchens must have been in the middle of telling the joke of a lifetime when he was rudely interrupted by a sommelier eager to fill his glass. Otherwise, I can’t see why he would use his weekly Slate column to criticize waiters and wine pushers at restaurants. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Hitchen’s Slate column, “Fighting Words,” it is usually dedicated to politics, human rights, religion, or other seemingly important topics. This week’s column called, “Wine Drinkers of the World Unite,” is a meditation on how waiters inappropriately interrupt people in restaurants. They rudely ask people if they want more wine, or, even worse, just pour it without asking and then ask if they’d like another bottle. Hitchens feels this is intrusive, sleazy, and a whole host of other bad things. He acknowledges that there are worse problems in the world, but feels that this one could be solved so easily, that we should unite behind a cause and put waiters in their place. As a regular Hitchens reader, I’m a bit taken aback. This might be annoying for Hitchens, but is he serious? First of all, this is not an important issue. I love wine as much as the next person (though perhaps not as much as Hitchens, who is known to be a bit of a drinker), but I couldn’t care less whether the wine is poured for me or I pour it myself. Second of all, some people want to be served wine. That’s why they went to a restaurant and didn’t eat at home. Some people actually hold off on pouring wine so that the waiter has the opportunity to do it for them. I guess my conclusion is that Hitchens should start a blog for these mundane gripes. He sounds a little too Seinfeldian for a highly-read column in Slate.
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