Waitress Week: Shaq

May 8, 2009

Basketball players love Houston’s.  I think it’s the barbeque ribs, because that’s what they always ordered.  Ribs and Courvoisier.  I’ve never liked ribs – there doesn’t seem to be any way for me to eat them without ending up covered in sauce and humiliated.  And so much work for such a little strip of meat!  Cheeseburger, please.

One  night, Shaq visisted Houston’s.  He and three basketball friends squeezed into a six-t0p table, and even then all their limbs spilled out into the aisle, and guests and servers alike had to climb over their legs to reach their tables.

Shaq’s table wasn’t my assigned table, and I was relieved.  I got very nervous dealing with famous types – once I had to wait on David Spade, who had a hissy-fit because his Evian was too chilled, and then proceeded to repeatedly stand up and pretend to look for someone so that everyone in the restaurant would recognize him.

I was much happier toiling for the non-famous diners, but when our manager demanded runners for Shaq’s table, I couldn’t think of an excuse quickly enough and found myself balancing three platters of ribs.  I staggered up to Shaq’s table and tried to find a place to put the plates down amongst the giant arms and snifters of Cognac.  As I thunked the heavy plates down on the table, Shaq spoke.

“How are you tonight?”

Whoa.  Somebody crazy-famous was speaking to me, acknowledging that I, too, am a human being existing in time and space.

“I’m fine, thank you,” I answered demurely.

“What’s your name?”

“Mama,” I smiled as his buddies tore into the ribs.

“Mama, can you get me some more sauce?” he asked.

Whew.  I was a waitress again.  For a second there, I was in uncharted territory.  I ran down the stairs into the waitstation, shouting “Shaq request!” when the manager called for food-runners.  Sauce procured, I trotted back up to Shaq’s table and plopped the little bowl in front of him.

“Thanks, Mama,” he said.

“Anything else I can get for you?” I asked.

“Well, you can get me your phone number,” said Shaq.

My mouth fell open.  “My – what?”

“You asked if there something you could get me, and I’d really like it if you gave me your phone number so I could call you sometime,” said Shaquille O’Neal to ME.

And I answered:


…and then ran away like a frightened kitten.

I mean, I could never date a man who likes ribs so much.  Right?


6 Responses to “Waitress Week: Shaq”

  1. kristi Says:

    Good call. Herbie is so far superior to Shaq.

  2. Leslie Says:

    I sat on Billy Crystal’s lap once, delivered Catherine Zeta Jones’ golf clubs to her and helped John Cusack buy a wind breaker (while he was shirtless…).

    NONE of that beats having Shaq ask for your number.

    • mamarose Says:

      I’m pretty sure ypur John Cuscack story beats out my Shaq story! And you MUST tell your Billy Crystal story!

  3. Leslie Says:

    It’s not as hot as it sounds.
    I got an urgent phone call from “the set” when they were filming “America’s Sweetheart” at Lake Las Vegas (I managed the golf shop).

    They needed Billy STAT!

    So I ran to our course ranger Zeke and stated “We MUST go get Billy – he’s needed on set!” Now, mind you, Zeke could have delivered this message and retreived Mr. Crystal w/o my help – but Zeke, knowing my love for the tiny man, took me with.

    “Mr. Crystal, I apologize, but you’ve been called to the set.” Conveniently, we were in a two seater cart with two people and Billy made three – so I had no where to put my cute little early 20s hiney then his lap.

    He did impressions all the way to the hotel.

  4. pam b Says:


  5. Katie Burke Says:

    This story is hilarious, and so well told! I was (literally) laughing out loud by Paragraph 1, and I never stopped.

    I had a similar experience with Charles Barkley, and my reaction was the same as yours. Except that there was no kitchen involved, and The Round Mound of Rebound propositioned my friend and me simultaneously.

    From the data here on Shaq and David Spade, I believe that, during your tenure, Houston’s was a place for celebrities to eat, drink (nothing too cold), and act out to get attention.

    Fabulous story!

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