I looked down at the menu in mute shock.
This wasn’t something I usually did. Look at menus at all, that is, much less in shock. Food has long since lost its ability to shock me. No, I generally don’t go to sit-down restaurants at all. Certainly not with Creepy, who invariably causes scenes. And certainly not to places like Fried Cheese Fridays, which aren’t so much ‘restaurants’ as ‘American-style eateries’. I was only there because I was waiting for an arranged meeting elsewhere in the Quantum Strings Mall – to be honest, I just liked the place because of its wacky name – and their food court was full.
Now let me just say this. There are lots of things, both positive and negative, one can say about the United States of America, one of my favourite ambiguous ones being the way they call them “these United States”, as if to distinguish them from “those United States over there” or “the united states of solid and liquid and gas, ie., a sloppy poo or something”. Anyway, I just happen to think food is one of the places where they come down in the positive. They definitely know how to do food right, those United States.
The problem with ‘American-style eateries’ is similar to the problem with ‘Irish-style pubs’. With ‘Irish-style pubs’, the problem is that they’re often built, stocked and run by people with no idea of how to pour a Guinness, a general belief that ‘low ceilings and dark wood beams everywhere’ means ‘Irish’, and the woeful misapprehension that the only Irish band is U2. Sometimes, they will put drawings of Leprechauns on things. And let me tell you, having tangled with a gang of ex-pat Leprechauns, these are not the sort of guys you want to put drawings of on your drinks list or stick up cut-outs of near your cash registers. The sight might have given me post-traumatic flashbacks, if they ever got the fingers right.
Their nimble, spidery, God damn fingers.
Where was I? Oh right, ‘American-style eateries’.
So, Fried Cheese Fridays and its ilk aren’t particularly United-States-of-American, but generally do nice big servings of the sort of food I like – hot wings, nachos, pizzas, burgers, fries with everything and pancakes for dessert. And naturally this means I can’t take Creepy to them because there’s hardly anything on the menu that doesn’t make him weep like a scrawny, starving widow. Plus – and I happen to be with him on this one – they tend to use syrup and fizzy water for their cokes instead of actual coke, which was why at that moment I had a lemonade in front of me, which was another reason I could never have come here with Creepy. And there were Route 66 signs and pictures of Elvis on the walls, and it was generally awful but the food was really quite acceptable.
Where was I? Oh right, looking down at the menu in mute shock.