'Twas the week before Colts-Bengals, and Indy Bill steps up to the bar. Haven't seen him in awhile, and of course we make a friendly bet. It's the most nervous I've been about a Bengals game all season.
Bill settles into his seafood special when one of our newer regulars, Chicago Bob, comes in. It's important in my business to remember a name, and we get a lot of traveling businessmen, so I've found it easiest to mentally attach a patron's name to his geographic base... so, new guy became Chicago Bob.
Chicago Bob is a fun guy, and everyone at the restaurant enjoys him immediately. He hits on the waitresses, he complains about the size of our rocks glasses, and he's got a great accent. He watches me while I pour, and heckles other customers when they order foo-foo cocktails or wine. He toasts to Indy Bill. When he's halfway through his mussels, he proclaims how awful they are. He's a character. He proves that there's a good, funny way to be a wise guy, and what a lost art it is.
We love him.
He's also a pet food salesman. Tonight, he drops off three packages of his newest product, popcorn for dogs! It comes in a few varieties, and he gives us samples of cheese, filet mignon, and bacon flavor. It's microwavable, just like the people kind. Let's be honest... it is the people kind, since it's entirely unnatural for dogs to heat kernels of corn until they explode, but, it's marketed as "healthy for dogs", and, since dogs don't know guilt, it's packaged with names like "bacon flavor." Still, it's an interesting (free) concept, and I drop the packets off at the window so the servers can take the treats home to their furry babies.
A half-hour later, I'm walking through the kitchen to fetch one of our tonier reserve wines. The wafting smell is ungodly. Beefy, crispy, and overcooked. Like charred animal flesh.
"The cheese flavor isn't bad, but the filet mignon flavor smells like cow ass," comments our sous chef. The kitchen had popped the puppy-corn, just to see what it was like. They're taking bets as to who will taste the fluffy stuff.
It's the funniest damned thing, even if it doesn't come off that way. The entire staff gets giddier, and stupider, the closer the holidays come. Especially the kitchen. And that's saying a lot, coming from the bar staff.
If I don't get a chance to write again before the game, GO BENGALS!! Any given Sunday, I keep telling myself. Any given Sunday.