Wednesday, November 01, 2006

All-you-can-cook ribs!

I've been without the truck today. I loaned it to my brother because his vehicle needed to be in the garage and he's a salesman. He needs wheels and no alternate rep was available to cover his route for him today.

I accepted a ride home from a co-worker. Had I the truck I would have stopped for groceries on the way home. Instead I ponder the empty fridge and a grumbling tummy. I must eat out. It's the only reasonable solution!

Ah ha! Wednesday is all-you-can-eat ribs day at Montanas! Perfect! And there is one such location within walking distance - barely. And a little exercise is just what I need to stifle some of the associated guilt. Somehow I come up with this plan: I shall head out on foot but hail the first bus or taxi to come along and ride in comfort the remaining distance. Excellent! I grab my jacket, writing notebook and a good pair of running shoes and I'm off.

The walk from here to Montanas - I don't yet realize - is about an hour long. But I will come to realize it. I don't intercept any buses along the way. Many pass but at each occasion there is no apparent stop within dashing distance and I'm not inclined to risk making an ass of myself by frantically waving at a bus when - for all I know - it will pass on by, ignoring me. I remember being a kid and flagging buses down between stops but that was long ago and I have this vague sense that the world has since become less kind and less gentle and so too have its bus drivers. Perhaps embarrassment is not what I fear so much as confirmation that the above 'sense' is true.

I do wave my notebook at the first taxi to pass and he slows down and begins to pull over. Hoo haw! But as I approach he accelerates again and takes off - thus making an ass of me anyway.

My presumption is that he thought briefly that I might be the guy who called his company requesting a cab, but upon taking stock of my location realized I could not be and thus pulled away to honor the previous commitment. My presumption is not that he just felt like messing with my head for kicks. This first taxi is also - surprisingly - the last.

On very weary legs I arrive at Montanas having walked an hour and suspecting that with my luck the all-you-can-eat Wednesday policy will have been discontinued. I can imagine myself begging the manager to extend the deal.

'But I haven't eaten all day! I walked for hours! Please!'

But no such worries. The deal is still on. I see reference to it on the chalkboard over the counter where a smiling teenager will greet-me-and-seat-me - in a booth that is easily big enough to hold a family of six. Which is appropriate. The number of ribs I intend to eat would feed such a family.

A waitress shows up promptly, pulls a brown crayon from her batman utility belt and scrawls something on the sheet of kraft paper that covers my table.


Is that my table number? Oops. Of course not. Her name is Mel. She's written it upside down to align to my point of view. It's easier to write your name upside down than to just say it, I guess. Give it a try sometime. She hands me a menu. I quickly check the wine list.

"I'll have a glass of water, a half litre of the Wolf Blass and the All-you-can-cook ribs please!"

Get it? All-you-can-cook ribs? This is a joke. I use it all the time. She doesn't laugh. No one ever does. Ever. Not even the people I dine with. The joke works like this: The quantity of ribs I shall eat will be limited only by your capacity to cook them - because my capacity to eat them - is infinite! I'm that much a pig! Isn't that great? Hysterical? No? Well I don't care. The more nobody laughs at it the more I get a kick out of it. I shall use it always. Come the year 2054 I shall be eighty five years old and going to Montanas for the $170.00 All-you-can-eat ribs and I shall be saying "I'll have the all-you-can-cook ribs missy!" and then I'll split a gut laughing til my false teeth tumble out onto the table at which I'll laugh even harder while missy stands there horrified.

"Mommy, what's wrong with that old man?" a little girl at the next table will ask.

"He's crazy, honey. Just ignore him. Don't look. It's not polite to stare at crazy people."

I look forward to that day.

The ribs are delicious of course. Very saucy. I get the 'Texas bold' sauce of course (It's Bullseye brand).

I'm well into the second rack when a posse of wait and bus staff march past my table. Uh oh. That can only mean one thing. Some birthday sucker's gonna get the treatment. I get very squeamish around these scenes. I know the restaurant staff must love this chore almost as much as that of picking up dog poops on the hottest day of the year.

They converge on a nearby table and work at convincing the birthday guy to stand up. He resists. He waves his palms at them. The staffers don't have time to fart around. They got work to do. They resort to high-pressure tactics.

"Get up! Get up! Get up! Get up!" they chant. He won't resist for long. Old ladies at the next table join the fun.

"Get up! Get up! Get up! Get up!" They're all yelling and clapping. Staffers and old ladies. There's nothing like group hysteria to wear down the will of the individual. It's like the campfire incident in Golding's Lord of the Flies. Despite my horror I'm drawn in. It's almost impossible to resist. "Get up! Get up! Get up!" I want to cry. "Kill the pig! Bash her in!"

He stands finally and the chanting fades without violent incident. But the man holds his hands over the top of his head preventing them from placing their special birthday head-gear upon him. So the ganging-up begins again and he submits. He is disguised now - not in a rudimentary pig mask as Golding had it but in an antler-equipped helmet. He is a moose instead. I contemplate another half-rack. For it is I who is the pig.


1 comment:

Dave said...

Oh man...10:15 in the morning and now I'm craving ribs. Bastard!
I'm not sure how a restaurant that (hopefully) is well aware of food safety and hygiene would force some poor birthday sucker to wear a communal, potentially lice-infested, moose helmet. The thought just turns my stomach.
Why not make it a complete evening and make the birthday boy lick the rim of the urinal?
Hey! I don't want the ribs anymore!