Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Perkins Two-Step

I went to Perkins on Saturday with siblings to celebrate our Mom’s 85th birthday. Unfortunately the service was so slow that by the time we left she was celebrating her 86th.

I don’t think our waitress really wanted to be there. My first clue was when she took our drink order by saying: “I don’t really want to be here.” I asked if we could get drinks anyway. She sighed loudly enough to loosen the wig of the woman at the next table. The bright pink hair slid down her head like an amoeba eventually meeting her soup to form a new species of semi-gelatinous sea creature I like to call the Portuguese Wig-o-War.

Our waitress walked away with us shouting at her our order of a coffee and 3 Pepsis. We perused the menu for our dinner selection and in between small talk she brought our Oolong Tea and 2 Dr. Peppers. I wasn’t thirsty anyway. The waitress left again giving us time to finish deciding what we wanted. She in fact gave us enough time to write a playlet about 4 ravenous people trapped on a deserted island. My brother made props from a neighboring booth and we performed 3 shows to a delighted, if slightly puzzled, audience of eight Perkins’ diners and wait staff.

It was during our after show meet and greet when our waitress finally returned to take our order. Fairly certain we wouldn’t actually get what we ordered we cleverly asked for four plates of haggis. At this point apparently the Earth’s rotational velocity slowed or we were trapped in a temporal vortex or some other Star Trekkie sounding thing because we waited so long for our food that my toenails grew through my sneakers into the floor pinning me in place.

We were thisclose to leaving when our waitress re-appeared. She dropped off 3 plates of canard a la rouennaise and a serving of chicken fingers, vanishing in a cloud of reddish smoke with a fiendish laugh and our salt shaker. The other patrons applauded but we were busy devouring our supper like people who don’t understand what the words “all-you-can-eat” mean at an all-you-can-eat buffet.

Thankfully the food was good, although my mom couldn’t finish hers which meant asking for a take-out box. We formed a betting pool on how long it would take our waitress to bring it. In the meantime my brother walked across the street to a store and bought a stop watch. When he got back he started it and it still took the waitress fifteen minutes to show up with the box. We figure my sister’s guess of the half-life of plutonium-38 was the closest and she won the pool. We had put what was in our pockets into the pot so she got 18 cents, an assortment of buttons, an eyeglass screw and a Chinese fortune from Hong’s House of Hunan.

Tempting fate we decided to each order a slice of pie to take home. Our waitress’s reaction at having to continue to work was not good. She put on sack cloth, covered her face in ash and sat cross-legged on the floor wailing to the ceiling fan “Why hast thou forsaken me?” When she left the four of us took to the floor ourselves to pray to whatever supernatural being rules over the ceiling of a Perkins to make our waitress move faster.

Apparently the god of the ceiling fan was a Presbyterian and our night out was pre-destined to go badly. Our waitress finally came back with 3 pieces of pie. Too bad we had ordered 4. She left to get the second slice of French silk and this time forgot our bill. Sweet, sweet death would have been a welcome sight had he come striding through the door but alas, we were left alive to sit and wait for our check. When she finally brought it we tossed bills of all denominations at her in a feverish frenzy. My brother grabbed another diner and yelled “We just want to go home!” I was scribbling “SNIKREP” on the walls with a sharpie while my sister rubbed her temples proclaiming “It’s a madhouse! It’s a madhouse!” My mom was contentedly finishing her coffee. She loves coffee.

I’m not sure what time it was when we were permitted to leave the restaurant. It was dark outside; the kind of dark that steals your soul and asks for change. The world had been rearranged; I could feel it in my bones. We went to Perkins for supper and lost everything about us that was good and pure. Damn you Perkins, damn you to hell.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

An Admission of Guilt

I occasionally listen to a Journey song. There, I said it. I’m not proud but I felt I had to admit to my crime. This morning, on the way to work, “Stone in Love” came on the radio. I did my due diligence and changed to all my other preset stations but I was alone on an island. The other stations were all playing commercials so I had no choice, right?

In my defense, your honor, Journey was huge when I was in high school. You couldn’t turn on the radio without being assaulted by the strange mixture of Neal Schon’s crunchy guitar and the chirpy melodies of Steve Perry (it was rumored there were other members of the band but only anecdotal evidence exists). When I hear one of their tunes now I always feel like I’m 17 again.

I was usually listening to Aerosmith or Ted Nugent on my stereo. Maybe I was watching Men at Work or INXS videos on MTV. Eventually I listened to a lot of heavy metal: Black Sabbath, Metallica, Witchfinder General, etc. But  . . . and this is painful . . . I had at least one Journey album. Ahhh! My spleen! Oh, I didn’t think that admission would hurt so badly.

Yes, one of their albums was in my collection and, yes, I would sometimes, not often, but occasionally, every-now-and-then, when the moon was high and the demons urged me to, maybe once or twice every few months, not every day, at a time when no one else was around, when the mood struck me, now and again, when I was reaching for Jag Panzer and accidentally picked up the Journey sleeve, I would put the record on.

So that’s that. I sometimes listen to a Journey song. I realize that all the black metal in the world cannot erase this stain from my musical record, but hell, I also like Sade and Loverboy, so, whatever.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Thank you, but . . . no

I got a rejection yesterday that was interesting. It was a form email but written in a quirky, sort of hipster way. I’m sure they wrote it that way to try and soften the blow of it both being a rejection and not being personalized; kind of had the opposite effect on me though. It pissed me off a little.

It also got me to thinking about all the varied rejections I’ve gotten over the years. The oddest had to be back in the days before the internet and email when you had to snail mail a submission and provide a self addressed stamped envelope to receive a reply. You had to pay for your own possible execution. Once when I opened my SASE I found a ½ inch wide strip of notebook paper with the word “No” written on it. That’s it. I started to wonder how I would write my form rejection if I ran a zine. Hmmm . . .

Dear Writer Whose Work I Have Chosen Not to Use,

I hope this missive finds you well and in good health, with a firm hand and regular bowels. Today I write to you in regards to your submission of February 1, 2013, a short story of such depth and magnitude it pained my eyes to behold it. I read your tale with great interest, with moderately-sized vats of enthusiasm and only a mild dose of boredom.

What a rollicking tale you told! I’m sure you spent days just conceiving the title which can only make the body of the text rendered with your blood, sweat and copious amounts of Turkish hashish. I commend you with the vigor of a wealthy man’s paramour who feels she’s about to be replaced by a younger, bustier version of herself and takes matters into her own hands by paying a Honduran immigrant $500 to kill her rival and seal the body in a 55 gallon drum of hydrochloric acid.

Alas, despite this being one of the ten greatest stories written in the past three weeks, I must decline to publish it. “Why?” I hear you asking. I implore you not to ask. There are no simple answers, no right or wrong, no black or white, no “I love your story” or “Wow what a piece of crap”. Move on, dear writer. Move on with your life. Treasure your family, flatter your children, spoil the dog with expensive rawhide bones, buy a ping pong table and begin weekly neighborhood tournaments with trophies and scrolls and snack trays of soft cheeses, antipasto and dipping sauces. Live dear writer! Live your life free of the knowledge of why I thought your story was dung hanging from the ass of a wild donkey! Live! 


The Editor

Personally, I would be proud to receive this rejection letter. I would undoubtedly frame it, hang it in a place of prominence in my home. Maybe string some bunting around the edges. There would be a dedication ceremony of course. Dave Barry would speak followed by a small party with music provided by local garage band Blown Head Gasket. A good time would be had by all. Someday . . .