"Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned."
"Do not fear my son. You are in a house of redemption. How have you strayed?"
"I wrote a negative restaurant review."
"Jesus! What in God's name possessed you to do such a thing?"
"Well, I went to Lindy's Steak House. Ever been there?"
"My point exactly."
"Still, my son, this is a potentially grave thing you've gone and done. How harsh were you?"
"I suggested that instead of wounding the cow and running it by me, they try cooking it next time."
"I suggested they take a hint from the second word in French fry, and prepare them accordingly."
"But I shouldn't lie, Father, right?"
"Well ... lying and not telling truths are two different things altogether. Couldn't you just leave out the bad stuff?"
"Oh, sure, and what would I write about?"
"Well, was it a good value?"
"Yes, about 11 bucks for hamburger, fries, drink and a salad."
"And couldn't you talk about the environment?"
"Of course. How about: The first thing that hit me when I walked into Lindy's was a wave of tobacco smoke that made me wonder if I actually took a wrong turn into a bowling alley."
"C'mon, my son, think on the positive side. How was the service?"
"Actually, the service was excellent. And the salad did come out on a cold plate. I really appreciate a cold salad plate."
"There you go! What else?"
"Nothing. That was it. Great service and a pleasantly cold salad plate."
"Maybe you caught them on an off day. Why don't you go back?"
"I don't have time. But I suppose the hamburger, which was broasted to lock in flavor, as they put it, would have been good if the center wasn't, shall we say, undercooked. I'm sure lots of people actually like their hamburger prepared that way. Maybe I could pretend I was someone who likes rare hamburger. That way I could be accurate without being punitive. Perhaps I'm a wolf on the run for killing an elk hunter, and I found refuge at Lindy's. Wolves like rare beef."
"I don't think that's the conciliatory tone you're looking for. Now, did you eat in the bar or the dining room?"
"The bar. I went for lunch."
"You could mention that you didn't eat in the dining room, leaving open the possibility that it's better than the bar."
"I don't think so, Father. I better just tell it like it is. It may be a sin to do so, but it seems like a bigger sin to avoid the issue. If I don't write about what I experienced, then the same thing could happen to someone else. You understand that, right?"
"Yes, of course."
"And you know what else? The owners of Lindy's might even appreciate a little honest feedback. I'm sure they care about their regular patrons. They all seemed happy to be there, and it's not like my bad experience is going to change their habits. I'm sure they don't care what I write; presuming they even read me in the first place. Gosh, I feel better already, Father. Thanks a lot."
"You're welcome my son. Now let us pray for your wayward, food-critiquing soul, and hope that the folks at Lindy's understand. Bow your head."
—Waj Nasser thinks one man's sins can be another man's salvation.