July 2008

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I’ll have what he’s having

Monday, July 21, 2008

Three guys walk into a bar at LAX, a French guy, an Hispanic, and the Anti-Christ (that would be me). Actually, the French guy, dressed from head to toe in black, is already sitting at the bar, and the Hispanic guy, Luis, is the bartender. So, really, I’m the only one who walked into the bar, but you get my drift.

I’m there because I’m two hours early for my flight to Rome and the final round of a golf tournament is on and even though I think we’d be a better society if both guns and golf were banned, I love watching Tiger. It’s not something I’m proud of, frankly, because in all other things, from politics to bull fights, I much prefer it when David beats the living crap out of Goliath (although this almost never happens in bullfights). But I have a weakness for Tiger. If I was at all gay, I’d worry about it.

Anyhoo. I’m hungry, bored, and have lots of time on my hands. A bad combination. So I order a large Sam Adams, which comes in a tumbler that looks like it might also be perfectly suitable as a vase for holding three dozen tulips in the lobby of the Ritz-Carlton, and the house “special,” a burger with cheese, bacon, onion rings, mushrooms, and guacamole on it. Nobody does excess like an airport bar.

Luis the bartender, not wanting me to get in a bind, informs me that the kitchen is a little slow today and it could be 30 or 40 minutes before I get my burger.  I order it anyway.

Five minutes later, the French guy next to me gets his meal. It’s a plate heaped with ribs, so many of them that he immediately asks Luis for an extra plate to contain the overflow. They look good. Really good. And they smell better than Britney Spears’ Fantasy perfume on a 15-year-old girl (let’s not even go there).

I want some.

Me: “Wow, those look good.”

Frenchie: “Par-don?”

Me: “The ribs. C’est incroyables, no?”

Frenchie: ….

Maybe it’s my accent. Anyway, another five or ten minutes go by. No burger. Tiger has just missed an easy birdie putt. Frenchie is talking on his cell phone to his girlfriend in Paris, no doubt, about his sexy calfskin leather shoes or maybe his D&G glasses which, actually, do look very cool. He’s ignoring the ribs like a pregnant ex-girlfriend.

I’m so hungry

Luis comes over, sees I still don’t have my burger, and shrugs. Obviously he’s sympatico. My beer is gone. I order a Pinot Grigio, which is really stupid. Where do I think I am? Why didn’t I just go all out and order a glass of Condrieu?  Luis comes back with a bottle labeled WHITE WINE and gives me an extra large pour. It’s warm. It’s sweet. It’s the color of limoncello. It’s fair to say it’s nothing like any wine I’ve ever had, including Pinot Grigio.

I thank Luis.

Frenchie: “My omelette?”

Luis: “Que?”

Frenchie: “Omelette. I…order…omelette.”

Luis: “Too late for breakfast, sir.”

Frenchie, petulantly: “But I…order…omelette.”

Luis, obviously a wise soul full of much que sera sera, shrugs. Tiger hits his drive into those gorgeous magnolia trees. On CBS he quite clearly says, “Fuck!”

Me (with all the enthusiasm of a 10-year-old watching Bill Mahrer on cable for the first time): “Tiger just said ‘fuck’ on TV!”

Frenchie: “Fromage…you have fromage?”

Luis: “Just ketchup and mustard, sir.”

Me (sotto voce): “Luis, I think he wants some cheese.”

I smile at Frenchie. The ribs are starting to congeal a bit but they still smell good. I’ll bet they’d be most excellent with my WHITE WINE.

Luis goes into the back and comes out with a black plastic bowl of shredded yellow cheese. I’m not going to call it cheddar because I’m sure it’s not. It’s day-glo orange. The same color as Chee-tos. And shredded. Into rubbery matchsticks.

Me, leaning in towards Frenchie: “I wouldn’t eat that.”

Frenchie: “No?”

Me (in my finest Maurice Chevalier accent): “Ce n’est pas fromage.”

Frenchie: “Not cheese?”

I shake my head. “But, you know, some people will eat anything.” I let my eyes wander over to his plate of uneaten ribs. “Like I’m hungry enough right now to eat cold leftover ribs.”

Frenchie takes his plastic fork and dives into the cheese sticks. He looks at me and smiles, takes another bite. There must be two cups of orange-colored cheese sticks in his bowl and he eats every last one of them. And then, after asking for the check, empties the dregs of his RED WINE on the plate of his uneaten but no-doubt succulent ribs.

Tiger hits into the rough on the 12th hole, flubs his second shot, and three putts.

My burger never comes. Still, because that’s the kind of guy I am, I give Luis a five-dollar tip. The same five dollars Frenchie stuck under his plate of cold ribs before he left.    

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