Monthly Archives: January 2015

Menu Wars

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“Excuse me. I’m sorry to bother you, but my girlfriend’s avocado is bigger than mine,” said my wife to the waiter.

We were out to lunch with friends.

“Well, I’m sorry, ma’am. We weigh each avocado, and that’s what you get with the Avocado Chicken Scratch Salad. Otherwise we’d exceed 650 calories, complaints would ensue, and we’d need to move that item to our Lard Lovers menu.

“Still, I’d rather have a bigger avocado,” my wife said. “I can go up to 710 calories without adverse effects.

“Well, would you mind if I take your avocado over to our scales? I’ll make sure it’s not too small.”

“Are you kidding me?” said my wife incredulously.

“No, it’s really no problem.”

“That’s not necessary,” my wife said. Just bring me an extra piece of avocado. I’m pretty hungry right now.”

“Certainly, I’d be happy to do that. There’s $3.00 upcharge for additional fruits and nuts. Before I bring you that slice, however, please just let me weigh that one for you. It will only take 10 minutes.”

Before my wife could protest again, the waiter slid on plastic gloves and grabbed her avocado.

Around the table, we all looked at each other, dumbfounded. We began picking at our food with forks while my wife fiddled with a saltine packet. Eventually the waiter returned.

“My manager can’t legally release more avocados in this sector until tomorrow, but we’d be happy to compensate by providing seven additional dried cranberries instead.”

“What do you think?” my wife asked me.

“Go for it,” I replied, chewing my oyster stew.

My wife pondered, and then said, “I don’t think the cranberries are equivalent. Can you throw in two ounces of bleu-cheese crumbles as well?”

“I’ll be right back,” said the waiter, who was beginning to look tired. Twenty minutes later he returned with twelve cranberries on a saucer, a ramekin of Parmesan, and a Chinese tea bag. “This is the best we can do,” he said. “If this isn’t satisfactory, you can file a brief on our website at the Disgruntled link.”

“Can I get hot water with the tea bag?”

“Hot water and a cup cost $2.95 with one free thimble. For cold water, it’s bring your own polyethylene, and lemon slivers are a quarter.”

“Never mind,” said my wife. “Please take this Chicken Scratch back to the kitchen. I’ll have the 19-Bean and Carp Soup instead. And I’ll be counting!”

By this time the rest of us had finished eating, so we went to the parking lot to play croquet while my wife counted her beans.

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Christmas Lights

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Ho. Ho. I accidentally overlooked my house and drove past it one night in mid-December. Compared to all the other brightly lit houses on the block, my home was so dark I didn’t see it. I knew then that it was time to dig out the outdoor Christmas decorations.

I climbed the ladder that’s always leaning at the edge of the crawlspace hole in my garage ceiling. The ladder’s top is attached to an attic beam by a bungee cord. I pulled the string dangling from the ceiling light and waited while the energy saving, delayed-start bulb flickered on.

As my eyes adjusted in the dimness, I gingerly stepped across the random boards that I’d nailed in various places on the attic joists to prevent people from crashing through the drywall to the Lawn Boy below. Traversing the attic is like crossing a river on wooden ice floes.

I found the box of Christmas lights and started back down the ladder. My head and the large box became wedged together in the square attic hole as I tried to descend. I shouldered the box up a bit to free my squished ear.

At the bottom of the ladder I pulled a knotted, wadded mass of green wire and lights from the box. It took about an hour to untangle the mess. One by one I spread out the strings on the garage floor and plugged them into a surge protector for testing. Of the 16 strings of lights, 7 strings didn’t work whatsoever, and only half the lights worked on 5 of the strings.

“Does anyone know why only half the bulbs routinely light on these cheap Christmas strings?” I asked my wheelbarrow. “No answer. That’s what I thought. Mm Hm. Okay. Anyway. Moving on. Ho. Ho.”

It was dark outside by the time I finished setting up the manger scene with the little-kid version of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus. The plastic Holy Family was 20 years old, and the paint on their hair, sandals, and noses was scuffed and faded. I stuck the nightlights through the holes in each of their backs and plugged them in.

I whistled softly with pleasure. The lights worked, and Mary, Joseph, and Jesus were glowing in the dark, blissfully smiling as they had each year for decades. I felt warm inside, as if I’d sipped hot cocoa.

I walked to the street and turned to look at the house and the few lights I’d displayed. Then I lifted my eyes to the rising full moon and the sky full of stars. My little electric gleams paled in comparison, and Christmas hassles were overwhelmed by Christmas awe.

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