Boy, today was a weird one. I had forgotten to bring my lunch with me (as I do with great regularity), and about noon I was pretty hungry, so I stopped at a coffee shop. I'd never been to this particular coffee shop before, but it looked pretty clean, and, [quoteright'/>more importantly, not too expensive, so I went in. I was led to a booth, seated, and given a menu. Pretty soon a waitress came over.
Have you noticed that most waitresses wear short skirts? I'm sure that the reason for this is that short skirts afford better mobility, allowing the waitresses to move about much faster during the lunch and dinner rushes, but I sort of enjoy this aspect of coffee shop custom for more aesthetic reasons. Maybe that's why I forget my lunch so much. My waitress had one of these efficient uniforms on, and as soon as I had finished admiring the workmanship and functional design of her attire, I noticed something else. She was wearing a peasant blouse, one of those that hangs off of the shoulders by means of an elastic band. Immediately above the upper edge of her blouse, I noticed that she had an absolutely gorgeous tattoo that ran the entire width of her upper chest. One could only speculate as to what was concealed by the blouse.
Anyway, there she stood, pencil poised. I quickly scanned the menu, something I always do even though I'm of the firm opinion that coffee shop menus are totally interchangeable from one shop to the next, and settled on a club sandwich.
Rather than verbalize the cutesy name they had for a club sandwich (something like "Groovey Grubbe"), I pointed to it on the menu.
"One club sandwich," she said. "White or wheat toast?" Apparently she didn't like cutesy names any more than I did.
I said, "White, untoasted."
She said, "He doesn't like to make them untoasted."
Huh? I looked carefully around. Had I accidentally become lost and wandered into Chez Cary, and was "He" a Cordon Bleu trained master chef, expert in the art of Haute Cuisine?
Perhaps, blinded by the bright sunshine, I had stumbled into the Hobbitt, where one waits six months for a reservation and has no menu choice.
Nope, it was a coffee shop, and there was the menu, still laying on the table. It wasn't even a well-known coffee shop.
Now, I'm not very good at repartee. Usually, several days after an occurrence I can come up with several "should have saids," but the best I could do at that moment was "I don't like to eat them toasted."
She said, "He gets finger holes in them if they aren't toasted."
"Look, I've been eating club sandwiches for a good part of my life, and the vast majority of them have been untoasted. I have never seen a club sandwich with a recognizable finger hole in it."
At just about this time, the total ridiculosity of what was happening began to dawn on me. Here I was, about to pay three dollars for a sandwich, and I was being told that I couldn't have it unless I agreed to eat it toasted. Not only that, but I was discussing the pros and cons of finger holes, something that I hadn't know existed ten minutes prior to our conversation.
She said, "Well, I'll ask him, but do you still want it if he won't make it untoasted?"
I decided that at this point, if I pursued the matter and "He" condescended to even make my sandwich, let alone untoasted, it would appear at my table in a totally unrecognizable form. Finger holes all through it.
I decided that "He" already knew what he was going to do, and didn't need me to tell him how I wanted my sandwich. "He" also didn't need my three dollars.
I may be lacking in some areas, but I know when I'm beat. I said, "No."
I got up, walked out to my car, and drove to the nearest Golden Arches. I ordered a Big Mac. I was filled with apprehension as my order was delivered to me. I went to the table. I sat down. I opened the little styrofoam box. I heaved a deep sigh of relief. One of the girls who works there was going by my table at that time, and asked "Is anything wrong, sir?"
"Not at all! Look!" said I as I pointed at my Big Mac, "No finger holes!"
She looked at my Big Mac, and then at me. She said, "Would you like some?"
BILL HARVEY used to submit his material to us with increasingly exorbitant demands for payment. One dollar, five dollars -- who knows where it would have ended? He is now satisfied with mere fame.
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