My colleague C.R. Roberts knows a lot of people in this town, and because a lot of people know him and know where he works, my editors have advised me not to risk being seen with him when I'm eating in public.
I'd like to add one more bit of advice: Anyone who claims to do my job should not do so while sitting next to C.R. Roberts, who watches my back and shares this story:
So I'm at the Hob Nob on Saturday morning. I'm sitting beside two twenty-somebodies and the one next to me orders coffee with a shot of Kahlua, then eggs Benedict. They're talking through the meal, I'm reading the paper over bacon and eggs that didn't turn out as over-medium as I'd hoped, being as hard as a skirt steak, but the place was packed, the kitchen was busy and all I wanted was food.
The two guys loved their meals. They as much as gushed. And when the waitress comes to settle up, the guy next to me tells her, "I'm from The News Tribune and that's the best breakfast I've ever had. I'm even going to pay for it."
This is disturbing on a couple of levels, first that he did not work for The News Tribune and second that he would imply that there are times when the person who actually eats on the paper's behalf occasionally does not pay.
He said it in a nice way, and that's how I turned and explained that I indeed did work for The News Tribune, and I know the actual correspondent who visits restaurants and writes about them, and how it has happened, in the past, that people have said pretty much what he said and been taken to task, if not to court, for their criminal misrepresentation.
That's one of the problems when the food critic has to hide his true identity -- people start making stuff up.
The guy nodded and said he was only kidding, which was fine with me.
He still seemed to be experiencing some kind of low-level ecstasy.
"This is the best breakfast I ever had," he said.
For the record, I've eaten breakfast at the Hob Nob. I would never say such a thing.