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Wednesday, Jan. 02, 2002
I'm just no good with days off.

You'd think that with an entire day to do whatever I wanted to, knowing that the cell phone would be silent and the clamour of a workday off in some distant future that I would just be as productive as hell.

Yesterday I reached a state of vegetativeness not seen since high school days.

I mean, I really tried to get something, anything done. I fooled around on the computer and rearraigned some things. Looked sadly at the mountain of paperwork in front of it. Chatted online. Flipped through the TV for a minute.

Stu called and demanded to know why I wasn't over there eating the eggs benedict he was preparing. At 11 o'clock in the morning. Yeah, I can see that this day is going in the tank at an unreasonable speed.

I went over and ate and fell asleep on his recliner.

Then I returned home and fell asleep on my recliner.

Nice, eh? People actually get to write entry's about this?

Stu and I visited the home of one of the denizens of the Watering Hole for an exchange of refrigeration appliances. Seems that Ike had a fairly new refrigerator which would look fairly swanky out in Ski's garage as long as he could get rid of the deep chest freezer which Ike coveted for his seafood endeavors. Getting into the shrimp business, you know.

Ike was native born in the Phillipines and spent the last 25 years running a kitchen onboard some of our nations biggest warships as a Master Chief Cook. I didn't know they even had a designation like that, but anyway. The man is used to turning out breakfast for several thousand and he hasn't quite gotten over it. Retiring to a shrimp business seems like a logical step.

As a gesture of goodwill Ike made plain his expectation that Stu and I be seated at his homemade curved bar with the hula girl lamp which wiggled when lit and the commercial sized Budweiser light and the cigarette dispenser machine which dropped a pack if you dropped a quarter in. I guess there are some advantages being employed by the government, but Ike just wasn't saying how.

He drew forth libations from the tap mounted in the bar and set two frothing mugs on the counter for us. Inquired as to the state of our hunger, and seemed not to hear when we both said we had just eaten. We've heard about this fixation Ike has about food.

He reached into a bar fridge and brought out a slab of salmon big enough to wrap around a basketball and laid it on a silver platter with a practiced hand. Sliced the salmon and diced up some backfin crabmeat. Laid hands on an unmarked bottle of lime green colored goo and squirted it on the salmon, making a cute little dollop here and there along the perimeter of the platter. Chef Ike had been indulging in a few too many daytime cooking shows on the Food Network, not to mention the requisite Gin and Tonic indulging.

"There ya are boys, dig in."

Now, I'm a person with completely undainty eating habits. No one has ever accused me of turning away food. And Stu can eat me under the table (well, I think you know what I mean. I'd strike that last one but I'm still in a vegetative state and doing well to have gotten this far, thank you).

It's also fair to point out that I never question the cook on the subject of complimentary sauces. I had a perfectly reasonable notion that the green stuff was guacamole. So I speared a generous chunk of salmon and bit down with gusto.

And watched as the top of my head levitated with some speed toward Ike's ceiling. My sinuses knew fear. Tears ran down my cheeks and fire flew from my eye sockets.

I know it's not customary to be flying over the bar at someones home but Ike's tap was close enough, and my glass empty enough, to make a polite request for a refill out of the question. I guzzled beer like it was quarters night at the frat house. Stu was not far behind me. He wears a mustache, but when I looked I could have sworn it was singed clean off.

Gasping, Ike emptied his fire extinguisher on the two of us and proffered some neutralizing crackers, which we immediately reduced to crumbs.

OF: "Jesus, Ike. What are you trying to do, kill us?"
Stu: "Yeah, just what is that green stuff?"
Ike: "Got a bit of a bite, eh? Japanese horseradish. Like it?"

He cheerfully squirted some more on our plates and popped another chunk in his face. The man obviously was a superior being, because other than a muttered "whew" he showed no sign of discomfort.

Stu and I exchanged glances that spoke volumes. I've shared plates of Mexican food with Stu where the most bland thing on the table was a bottle marked 'Hell Hot' but I've never seen him with his hair standing straight up before. I mean, this is the guy who grows four different varieties of jalepeno peppers in his garden and is often seen rolling around in the dirt after sampling one straight off the vine.

We beat as hasty an exit from Ike's place as decorum would allow and ran to the truck.

Several hours (and prodigious quantities of beer) later, I could still taste the stuff. One things for sure. I think I've discovered the cure for the common cold.

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