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Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2006
It was Valentines Day.

The checkout girl at the grocery: “So, you takin’ the wifey out to dinner tonight, mon?”

The barmaid at the Hole: “Where you takin’ Ally tonight?”

The girlfriend of Ben: “You takin’ your woman out tonight?”

Great horny toads. Do I detect a theme? I wish someone could explain to me how Valentines Day progressed over the course of a generation to be the new Holiday Rising, with a bullet, soon to challenge Halloween as a mainstream spend-a-thon? Also, since when does an eighteen year old girlfriend of the Youngest Son get to refer to my wife of some decades as “Your woman”?

Ally at 5:30 pm: “So, where are we going for dinner tonight?”

Okay, I know enough to roll with the flow when it comes to this sort of thing, but in the best tradition of grumpy old Southern men I also know how to spin it into a winner. At least I thought I did.

“Let’s go to Getti’s! We haven’t been there in an age!”, I crowed.

Lest you assume that Getti’s is some small fine Italian feedery, set against the calm waters of a trendy marina and having fettuccini as an entrée and swarthy waiters and a three figure tab, allow me to enlighten. Getti’s is a place that was finished out, construction wise, by Stu and I some years ago. We got to know the owners who promised us that once open, Getti’s would be the premiere place in all of Swampville to go and have - A Sammich.

But not just any kind of sammich, no indeedy. A proper submarine sandwich! Meat and cheese and greenery and tomatoes piled on sourdough bread, toasted to that perfect state of goldeness with onions peeking out of the side like the tendrils of a beckoning hand, beguiling and suggestive . . .

Whew, sammich porn. Let me reset, here.

I was skeptical when the owners told me all this. Skeptical because I am a collector of restaurants who make food into porn and it’s a short list by any count. There are places to eat around here that can have me drooling just by the mention of their name but they’re few, I tell ye. Few things food wise can affect me like . . .

. . . this.

When we got the joint open for business the owners invited us in for a little taste testing, a little free sampling. It’s one of the benefits of doing a lot of restaurant construction. I’ve never been known to turn it down.

I was totally blown away. Fried sourdough bread as a wrap for a sub? Oh Jesus.

I pledged the owners my second born child. Honest, I did. She worked there for more than a year (whether it was in indentured servitude is not the issue. I needed somebody on the inside with a discount, and she was available). She used to bring home and leave me subs in our refrigerator after a night shift, in their distinctive golden box, and I’d open the ‘fridge in the morning and spot that box and have heart palpitations right there in the kitchen. I had it bad, kids.

I even liked their slogan. Gotta Getta Getti’s. Oh yeah, I can relate.

So Ally and I fought cross town Swampville traffic last night. Just to Getta Getti’s.

Apparently, they’ve not had enough Outfoxed influence. Or they were losing money on doing things the right way, or something. ‘Cause Getti’s just got gone off that coveted list of mine.

They changed the reading on the menu board. Maybe they wanted just one more “G” in the equation since they now call a Sub sammich by its heathen name, a (shudder) Grinder. The only thing that ought to be called a Grinder is some 20 year old waif in a dimly lit place with an absurd cover charge. Anything using tubular bread and having food stuffed betwixt it is a Sub. Period. And don’t even get started about Hoagies and Hero’s. It’s a damn Sub.

The sourdough bread? Gone. The special sauce? No more.

The prices? I handed the lad a twenty for two Subs, a small bag of chips and two Cokes. And he wanted more! Good Getti’s, what’s the world coming to?

But the killer was when my special Valentine slid into the seat next to me and popped that bag of chips. You know, the kind you see on a counter top rack in every Sub Shop that ever was, the kind you stick in your lunch sack or nab from a machine.

Ally said, “Hey, take a looka this now.” And I swear there were about four (4) chips in the bag. Along with a whole lot of air. Want some consumer advice, oh restaurants of mine? If your vendor is huckstering you with near empty bags of chips, you gotta getta ‘nother one, and be quick about it. What a cheap thing to do.

As a final insult, the drink thing. I hate the fountain drink thing that all these places do now. “I’ll take a large Coke, please.” A simple request you would think. But the stiff will hand you an empty cup and wave vacantly toward a towering machine of soda and ice dispensers and grunt, “Free refills”.

And in this case, the cup was about the size of a medicinal sample container. Dwarfish.

“This is a large?”, I queried in a polite way.

“Ugh,“ quoth the stiff. Apparently it was, and more than apparent was the $2 price tag that came along with it. For which you got to leap up after every sip of Coke and trudge over to the free refill line, along with everybody else in the joint, to splash another mouthful of soda into a piss cup.

Takes away from the general ambiance of the place, is all I’m saying.

I’m sure glad Maggie doesn’t work there anymore because I’d be pestering her for changes that she probably couldn’t fulfill. Bring back the bread, drop the prices, gimmee a man sized drinking cup. I won’t even get into the fact that they don’t serve beer and never have. Got to pick your battles at Getti’s, you do.

But it can’t be said that I didn’t try. My little Valentine got her dinner last night and didn’t have to lift a finger. Oh, she might have had to listen to my ranting all the way home but she’s perfected that inner mute button thing, and seemed serene enough.

Plus, she got a rose from her boss and bought a bag of candy and a card for herself. All things considered it was a banner Valentines Day for Ally. I can’t be expected to do everything, you know. I’m a busy guy with important things to do.

Finding another Sub Shop, for one thing.

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