In a bid to put a long working week behind us, The Special One and I have a regular Friday night date. We even take it in turns to pick a dinner venue, which is a little difficult for me on occasion given that my knowledge of New York restaurants extends from hot dogs at Papaya King, to “that place that we thought gave me food poisoning from the chicken, but then we realised it was probably the three bottles of Sancerre that I washed it down with”.

Last week’s venue of choice was Dennis Foy in Tribeca, a restaurant that I can (now) heartily recommend. Especially if you plump for the gnocchi with mushrooms and sage – I’m not a particular gnocchi fan (it always seems like a waste of a good spud to me), but these were almost enough to swear me off chips and gravy for life.

Of course, it wouldn’t be New York without a little bit of drama, and sure enough, half way through the main course, the head waiter flounced out of the restaurant with a flourish, quickly followed by another (clearly anxious) member of staff. You couldn’t help but hear the raised voices, no matter how deeply you buried yourself in your parsnip puree. Thankfully after a thorough talking-to, the flouncee returned with his smarm and uncanny over-familiarity firmly intact.

Content after a good meal, The Special One and I got up to leave. Well, she got up to leave, and I scurried off to the bathroom. I have to call it a bathroom these days, despite the fact that there’s no bath and not even a toothbrush in sight. Apparently I break Newton’s First Law of Politeness In Marriage when I refer to the ‘facilities’ as a toilet. Next she’ll be telling me that I should be calling the cat’s litter box a feline waste disposal unit.

By the time I returned to her side, she was talking to a man dressed in a white jacket. Presuming it was neither Simon Le Bon from the video for ‘Rio’ or indeed the local butcher, I rapidly (and correctly) surmised that it was Dennis Foy himself, checking on the happiness of his customers at the end of the evening. As well as helping himself to something refreshing from the bar, obviously.

Foy quickly settled into a standard pattern of behaviour for ‘Americans that are introduced to a Brit that they don’t know, by an American that they also don’t know’. It’s a small subset of the human race, I appreciate, but large enough that a pattern of behaviour can be established. And sure enough, within 2.35 seconds, Foy was doing what can only be described as ‘taking the piss out of the Englishman’.

To be fair to him, he was very funny and extremely charming. Although if I’ve heard once that my fellow countrymen would be singing ‘Deutschland Uber Alles’ at the FA Cup Final if it wasn’t for America, I’ve heard it a thousand times. What made it all worthwhile though was Foy’s laughing insistence that he was just ‘busting my chops’.

I love the phrase ‘busting my chops’, largely because it’s as American as an economic recession. If a Brit ever uttered the phrase, he’d be carted off to the loony bin, but for an American it somehow seems strangely quaint. Better than popping a proverbial cap in my metaphorical ass, at least.

As it was, I wasn’t even vaguely aware that I had chops, let alone that a chef of some distinction would consider busting them. But after five minutes of banter, my chops were well and truly busted, and I beat a hasty retreat muttering something about him using less orange-flavoured olive oil on his fish in future.

Next Friday we’re going to Taco Bell, I can tell you.

7 thoughts on “Chopbusters

  1. Flowers On A Friday

    ‘busting my chops’ – such a great phrase along with ‘i’m just f**cking withcha’ which is a phrase one of my american colleagues uses….usually to cover a bad joke on his part though.

    have a great easter.

  2. Sarah

    Oh Dylan, you made me LOL in a classroom of silent 3rd graders! “buried in the parsnip puree”

    Just be glad you have so many options my friend, out here in ‘the country’ Taco Bell is a treat indeed! Actually we do have a good steakhouse, JUST the one!

  3. Cocktails

    Hello again, this post has been very educational – I have never, ever heard the phrase ‘busting my chops’ before in my life. But I will be keeping my ears open from now on – it’s fabulous!

    Cheers for the link by the way!

  4. Expatmum

    You know, I have heard that phrase so many times and always thought it was vaguely rude. (Let’s not go further with that.) I only looked it up the other day for research reasons, and will try to use it myself in future instead of having to stop half way through “Taking the piss” or “Taking the mickey”. Probably won’t sound the same with an English accent but it will definitely get a laugh.

  5. Amanda

    Dylan, sorry, not really the place for it but did you get email re cousin and art exhib? Ok to give email add?

  6. Simon

    With regard to the cat litter box, my girlfriend calls it the Kitty Loo

    I guess you’ve never heard the phrase “licking his chops” either?

    Also, ‘busting his chops’ is a polite way of saying “busting his balls”..

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