It's a Shakespearean double date--Hamlet and Ophelia and Macbeth and Lady Macbeth go to a restaurant, a steak house. It turns into a comedy of errors. As soon as they arrive, Lady Macbeth goes to the ladies' room, to wash her hands, and she stays in there for twenty minutes. And that Ophelia's such a weirdo--in the middle of a conversation she starts singing snatches of old songs. And then, every time the waiter comes to take their order, Hamlet says he needs a few more minutes to decide. And when they're finally ready to order, it turns out that Hamlet and Ophelia don't even want steak--Ophelia orders the California Platter and Hamlet says, "I'll just have a Danish." The Macbeths are big meat eaters, though, and they both order the 16-ounce New York cut. Macbeth orders his medium-rare and Lady Macbeth orders hers well done--the sight of blood makes her nauseous. While they're waiting for the food to arrive the Macbeths try to make small talk, but it's a losing proposition--Hamlet is sullen and morose and Ophelia's in her own world. And when the food arrives there's another problem--both steaks are well done. "Call the waiter," Lady Macbeth says. "Tell him to take it back."
"That's all right, dear," Macbeth says. "I'll eat this one."
"You ordered medium-rare, didn't you?" Lady Macbeth says.
"Yes," replies Macbeth, "but I don't want to make a scene. I'll eat this one."
"Don't be such a wimp," Lady Macbeth says. "Send it back!"
"All right, dear," Macbeth says, and he motions for the waiter.
When the waiter comes to their table, he insists that both Macbeths ordered their steaks well done.
"Are you going to take that from this nincompoop?" Lady Macbeth says.
"No, dear," Macbeth replies, and kills the waiter.
And then Hamlet, who has just taken the first bite of his Danish, spits it out, all over the table. "Yecch, something's rotten," he says.
And on top of everything else, the Macbeths drink so much coffee that they might as well kiss the idea of sleep good night.This was originally published in North American Review.