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Brian Evankovich

Stories from the Social Trenches
By Brian Evankovich
Jan 21, 2004 - 12:58:00 AM

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I was out with some friends the other night at a small grill and bar, and somehow the conversation centered on what our last meals would be if we were being executed the next day. Such happy family discussions, I think, are seriously lacking in todayís society, so I was happy to contribute. But I donít remember what anybody said. And there's a reason for that.

Because all the attention in the place quickly turned to a female who was walking around with only the top half of her clothes on. People smiled, laughed, leaned over to whisper to companions. Oh, yeah, it was a sight. The fact that this female couldnít have been more than two years old made it even funnier. The little girlís mother quickly scooped the child up and vanished down a hallway, where the damage was repaired, and my friends and I returned to our conversation. I stated that whatever a person ate before his execution, the goal should be to eat as much as possible in order to leave behind as big a mess as possible after the hangman did his deed.

One of my friends thought I meant messy dishes. I decided not to correct him.

On another adventure a few nights later, I was attending a small get-together when somebodyís cell phone went off, chirping the tune to Cindi Lauperís classic Top 40 pop hit, "Girls Just Want to Have Fun." The fact that the phone belonged to a girl wasnít a surprise. Not long after another cell phone went off, playing another musical tune: the more aggressive - but equally classic - "Brick House" from the Commodores. Heads turned while we waited to see who answered, expecting one of the guys to pick up.

A girl answered instead.

She didnít match the description in the song.

EXPAND YOUR HORIZONS BY EATING IN THE DARK

Speaking of social adventures, imagine youíre in a restaurant, and the lights are off. Not because the power is out, but because you decided this would be a neat way to pass the time. The kind of decision you make totally sober.

Thatís exactly what somebody with too much time on his hands thinks youíll want to do. In fact, some are already doing it.

The other day, the boss suggested I flip through the most recent issue of Time for a little blurb about a restaurant that operates totally without lights, where people sit and eat not even knowing who their companion is (after willingly allowing those companions to be chosen at random). Did I mention the waiters use night-vision goggles to find their way around? Helps them see how much youíre tipping, too, which is very important.

I invested in the issue, and in the process of reading through the pages, again convinced myself that Timeís red logo represents the political slant of the editorial board. But I digress.

The aforementioned individuals with way too much time on their hands decided eating the in the dark represented the next evolutionary phase of dining out. If the sense of light is removed from a restaurant, they say, then the sense of taste will be enhanced, and a new culinary experience will be had by all.

The real kicker is, even the menu is secret. So you donít even know what he waiter is putting in front of you. If youíre allergic to peanuts, or if various forms of disgusting goo passed off as sauces that supposedly add a zesty taste to your food make you gag, youíre in for a real treat.

Of course, the first restaurant to operate in this way was in France, once again proving that the French are not just wasting good air and real estate. In fact, that gives us in the United States an excuse to boycott such ridiculous activity - or have we stopped doing that? Refusing to eat in the dark can be a form of patriotism. Give me electricity, or give me death!

But, alas, itís too late. A Spanish restaurant in New York City has apparently tried turning off the lights; whether or not they met with success remains to be seen, and Iím not even sure it really matters.

Have we as a society become so bored with ourselves that we need to come up with ideas like this to pass the time? Iíll stick with baseball and barbecues and real social interaction, which have never failed to entertain.

Of course, you could say that restaurants with no lights off make for the ultimate blind date, and - judging by my luck with females - will probably be the only way I could actually get a date (ďYou wonít even have to see me, really.Ē).

Maybe itís not such a bad idea after all.

BRIANíS BOOK NOOK

At the risk of becoming like Oprah and her book club, I thought Iíd tell you about a book Iím reading thatís really good. If you like crime novels, of course - the kind of stuff Oprah doesnít touch, so I guess Iím safe. Chicago Stretch, by Charles Shafer, concerns the activities of crooks, corrupt politicians, cops on the trail of said misfits, all mixed with a dose of comedy that make it impossible to put down. The story begins with the attempted robbery of the mayor of Chicago, whoís just received a payoff (art imitating life perhaps?); from there, the action doesnít let up. You really feel for the characters - even the bad guys. The humor helps make that happen. If this were just another deadly serious tough-as-nails story, I don't think the sympathy would be there.

Chicago Stretch is available at Amazon.Com or at your local independant bookstore.

Brian Evankovich is a California writer who lives with his pet octopus and likes shooting his frozen chicken cannon on weekends. Contact him at brianevankovich@hotmail.com.


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