NEW YORK—In what is being dubbed "a serious breach of importance-based table-placement protocol," a very important man was given inadequate lunchtime seating at Effendi's in downtown Manhattan Monday.

Important man James L. Norridge will not be going back to Effendi's restaurant any time soon.

The important man, James L. Norridge, a senior partner in the prestigious New York law firm of Habisch, Guidry, Norridge, Goldfarb, Dwyer & Bleen, has filed a federal complaint against the upscale restaurant. The grievance will be heard by the House Reservations and Seating Investigatory Subcommittee later this week.

According to sources close to the maître d', the restaurant failed to provide Norridge with seating commensurate with his social standing and importance, placing him "shockingly close to the kitchen" in a poorly lit spot.

If found guilty by the congressional subcommittee, the restaurant could be fined up to $250,000 and have all of its dishwashers and busboys deported.

"This case is very important to us," subcommittee member Rep. Peter King (R-NY). "Mr. Norridge is an important man."

"In 20 years I have never been treated with such callous disregard," Norridge said. "Apparently, you people don't realize how important I am. I just signed a $27 million account with the Toshiba people this very afternoon. And now this? Do you know who I am?"

Of primary importance in the case, sources say, is the low social standing, or "unimportance," of everyone involved other than Norridge himself.

"I've got more important things to do than worry about a restaurant getting a simple seating arrangement right," Norridge said. "That's why I pay other people to do it, and I expect them to get it straight. What do I look like? A blue-collar laborer? I happen to be an important man in this town!"

As an important man, Norridge has become accustomed to being treated with deference and respect by everyone he meets, almost all of whom are less important than he is. Norridge regularly receives priority valet parking, enjoys the compliments of the chef, and has not had to pay for a piece of ass on the convention circuit since 1971.

"I was getting VIP ski passes in Vail when you were still in short pants!" he shouted to reporters.

Norridge further asserted that he has a position to maintain in this community and that he knew your father.

"The nerve, expecting me to eat a meal while there are Mexicans clattering dirty dishes in the next room a mere 10 yards away. I was planning on lunching with an important client today, but obviously that just can't happen now. The meeting is just too important," he said. "Good Christ! Do you even understand what I do all day, and how important it is that it gets done? Just talking to you now, I've probably missed two, maybe three important faxes."

"If you were important like me," he continued, "you'd understand what I'm saying, but I can see by the slack-jawed expressions on your ape-like, unimportant heads that you do not."

He then paused, using his cellular phone to call his answering service and yell at them for missing several important calls.

"We are very, deeply, horribly remorseful over what happened that black day," Effendi's owner Hercule Laurent said of the incident, wringing his hands and rending his garments, prostrating himself in the dust and otherwise debasing himself in shame. "I am not important."