All right, Kiddies — Climb with me if you will into Mr. Peabody’s Wayback Machine; we’re gonna set the date to 1978 — a time when men were MEN and women were GLAD of it; and you know that THAT was a L-O-N-G time ago, in a galaxy FAR away. Put your tray tables in the upright and locked position — here we GO!
My first wife and I are enjoying some fine New Jersey diner food along Route 22 — it’s dinner time on a weeknight, so rush hour is fully in place, giving us a constant earful of motorized conveyances whizzing by less than 100 feet from our Formica “food landing pad”, which has just received two fine platefuls of The Garbage State’s finest diner cuisine, delivered by the stereotypical “Jersey Girl” — chewing gum like a Gatling gun and with a masque of makeup that would make a Mardi Gras hooker proud!
Make no mistake however — Jersey Diner Food IS “the good stuff”; go look up “Comfort Food” in the Book-tionary and they’ll be a picture of a New Jersey Diner there!
My wife is busy blathering about some utterly INCONCEIVABLE notion — something to the effect that “If you weren’t such a smart-ass, you might have kept that job at the bus station for more than two weeks”; of course, me being a MAN and all, I have summarily allowed the aforementioned traffic din to COMPLETELY drown out her drivel as I hoist the first overloaded forkful of anticipated “mouthgasm” to my open maw.
O.K. — time to pull the camera back out for an “establishing shot”: In the booth adjacent to ours, an older couple are busy “putting on airs” with their faux-fancy clothes and nouveau riche demeanor; by “older” I mean maybe late 30’s. You know the type — Trust Fund Chump with Trophy Wife in tote, rubbing it in us blue collar yucks’ faces by driving his new Mercedes down to the diner for a change from “The Country Club Monotony” that they’re used to the other six days of the week. He’s the guy that ALWAYS sends his steak back, ’cause it is NEVER cooked right the first time uh-huh. Anyway, they’re “further ahead of us” on their meals; in fact, the waitress who brought out our entrees also brought their after-dinner coffees out at the same time.
So — here’s the picture: Me — forkful of pasta with 2″ diameter meatball BEAUTIFULLY skewered at the end of it, poised for entry into open mouth; earful of wife-drivel, eyeful of tractor-trailers/autocars whizzing by, noseful of MOST delicious marinara/meatballs/pasta/parmesan, corner of left eye watching aforementioned Trust Fund Chump staring down at coffee; got all that?
Then freeze-frame THAT sensory snapshot, while we pan left and see TFC pull a HUGE Macanudo out of the right breast pocket of his Robert Hall suit jacket — “Nooooooooooooooooooooo!!!”, in my best Mr. Bill impersonation! Out comes Mr. Zippo, as he tames fire to the end of this STINK STICK and proceeds to O-ring his mouth, exhaling a half dozen donut-sized smoke rings into the ether.
Now, if there’s one thing I can’t STAND (O.K. — there’s a LOT of things I can’t stand — and you’ll read about ALL of them right here on this Blog!), it’s some Nouveau Riche Trust Fund Chump with a Trophy Wife, a Mercedes, a cheap suit and a cheaper cigar imposing HIS olfactory will on MY 3-times broken nose!
And as luck (or bad Karma) would have it, those perfectly-formed donut rings of nasal napalm are ushered completely & immediately by the Trade Winds on a direct path to me & mine-nostrils, abruptly obliterating ANY & ALL actual “taste” that I might have enjoyed from the all-important “first forkful” of a man’s meal.
I stop mid-chew. I put my fork down slowly and deliberately. I grit my teeth; a truck blares its air-horn at some Jersey moron driver. I slowly lift my eyes to The Chump; my wife fidgets — ’cause she KNOWS where THIS is going. I exhale the lungsful of violated vile air, I stand up slowly. Mr. Chump takes another big puff, and lifts coffee cup to guppy lips. My wife says “Ho-Boy” in her best Droopy The Dog impersonation.
I step over to Chump-Booth — “Say Mister — would you mind putting that cigar out? My wife & I JUST got our food, and that cigar smoke is wafting DIRECTLY over to our booth — I can’t taste my food.”
Another puff, another sip — then: “I ALWAYS have a cigar with my after-dinner coffee…”
Puts cup down; Jones “processes” the entire situation. My right ear hears another “Ho-Boy” — the Earth stops rotating on its axis — I feel 30 sets of eyes on me. RIGHT THEN — my soul drifts out-of-body and hovers above this whole scene, looking down from its new point of observation. I am disembodied — ENTIRELY detached from what happens next. In a lightning-swift motion, my right hand comes up, SNATCHES said Macanudo from CHUMP’s gape-mouth, and inserts it business-end first into his coffee: “Well THERE — now you’ve got something to STIR your coffee with!”
At least we didn’t have to pay for our aborted meal that night…