A “mondegreen” is the unintentional mis-hearing of something into a different and unexpected (and often hilarious) new concept. The best way to explain it is with this 1980’s vintage Maxell tape commercial, which takes the Desmond Dekker song “Israelites” and … well … tries to hear what the song is really about.
I try not to mumble or slur my speech when I order food. That way, I don’t end up with something I didn’t order and a confused server trying to explain what she thought I did order. Thus creating an accidental food-ordering mondegreen.
But yesterday, while ordering dinner at the 99 Restaurant in Rotterdam, apparently my server mis-heard my order. Which led to plenty of confusion.
Let me explain.
My plan was to go to the 99 Restaurant, order food with my date, and then we would watch The Greatest Showman on the big screen. By the way, go see The Greatest Showman. It’s damn good.
So as the server came to take our orders, I was feeling enamored by the possibility of enjoying some hot seafood chowder on a chilly, brisk Saturday. I let my date order food first – if you don’t remember the mantra “ladies’ first,” then you’re in big trouble – and then I placed my order.
“So I’ll start with the seafood chowder,” I said to the server, as I flipped the menu pages to order my entree.
“And how would you like that cooked?”
“Yes, how would you like that cooked? Medium? Rare? Well-done?”
Um… wait … I quickly flipped back to the soups page on the menu. Perhaps I had accidentally ordered Vichysoisse soup or something, which isn’t cooked… nope, seafood chowder.
So I’m trying to figure this out … is there some special flame-roasting procedure for 99 Restaurant soups? Maybe the server brings a little hand torch and scorches the top of the soup bowl liked some sort of ersatz Baked Alaska?
I looked at my date. She was as confused as I was.
So I stammered out … “Well, I’d certainly like my soup warm…”
“No, I meant your burger,” the server replied.
“I didn’t order a burger.”
“Didn’t you say you wanted an All-Star Burger?” she asked.
I flipped the menu pages. Yep, the 99 Restaurant has an All-Star Burger on their menu.
And at that moment, it hit me. She thought I said “All-Star Burger” when I ordered, when I said “I’ll start with the…”
Ah. Now it makes sense.
We all had a good laugh about the incident, and the server eventually brought me my “flame-roasted” seafood chowder. And in case you’re wondering, it – and the fish and chips I had afterward – was very tasty.
Sometimes in life, you have to laugh at those little accidental mondegreens.
It’s the kind of moment when you can find humor in the tiniest of moments.