Playing the Rating Game

It is important to understand ratings if you plan to survive in today’s economy. Most of us are well acquainted with movie ratings. “PG” means Parental Guidance. I find it is not the youngsters you have to be concerned about at PG movies, but you had better think twice before taking your elderly parent. The other ratings are easy to remember. “X” means violence: people are “X”ed out. “R” indicates long sex sequences that interrupt the flow of the plot. “G” means boring even for 10-year-olds.

Here are some other categories.

Cars. Do you remember when “cream puff” meant a car owned by a little old lady from Pasadena who drove it only to church? Today “cream puff” means exactly what it says. Have you ever tried eating a five-year-old cream puff? It’s poison. So is the car.

Motels. Some motels describe themselves as having “no surprises.” A lot depends on what you expect. One person discovered while seated on the twentieth floor watching a TV newscast that his motel was on fire. I have a friend who claims that motels rated “Very Good” don’t change the sheets between guests. Before he checks out he leaves a small wad of newspaper between the sheets at the foot of the bed, hoping that if the cleaning crew does not put on clean sheets the newspaper wad will be discovered by the next customer, the motel will be sued, and he will have his revenge.

Restaurants. Four of us were at a restaurant with a ★★★★★ rating. The maître d’, a tall, balding Prussian in a gray suit, stood by our table cracking his knuckles. The 4′6″ waiter in striped shirt and bow tie cleared the table by pointing to the plates and snapping his fingers at us until we meekly handed him first the dinner plates, then the salad plates, and finally ...

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