Smith Says

  • Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Did you hear about the guy who had a cardiac infarction at the Heart Attack Grill in Las Vegas? Only in America.
The HAG has a sign on the door that says: “CASH ONLY. You might not live long enough for the check to clear.” The feed trough eatery has a hospital theme: Waitresses dressed as nurses take orders (“prescriptions”) from customers, aka “patients.” A "doctor" examines the "patients" with a stethoscope. The menu includes “Bypass Burgers and all-you-can-eat "Flatliner Fries" cooked in pure lard.
I’m not hating on the guy who fell out in his Triple-Bypass Burger and had to be hospitalized, but come on. You throw the deep-fried dice often enough and eventually your arteries explode.
I served tons of fried food during a 10-year stint as a waitress at a Calabash seafood joint. You can’t beat the money—not to mention the memories of charming customers, cranky customers, and perplexed customers. (“Which side of the flounder am I eating?”)
Speaking of perplexed, Widdle and I were that and then some at a West Ashley restaurant recently. It was packed at 2:15 p.m. on a Sunday, and we waited 15 minutes to be seated.
Then came Jack. Not quickly, but eventually. He ambled up with a full beard, slightly glazed eyes and a definite desire to be somewhere else. We ordered unsweetened tea and appetizers. “So that’s it, appetizers?” he asked, hopefully.
“No, we’re having a meal, too,” I said. The tea was delivered. Fifteen minutes later, so were the appetizers. Before Jack could bolt, I looked up at him and said, “We’re ready to order.” He looked down at me like I was a snake.
“Be right back,” he mumbled.
I stared at Widdle. “Did he just give me a nasty side-eye?” Widdle smiled and said nothing.
Jack—in his defense, he was waiting on three other tables--returned, blinking heavily. We ordered, he gave me the Eyes of Death AGAIN and slid away. By this time, I’m a little agitated. “Does he have a problem?” I asked Widdle, who shrugged.
Just then Jack reappeared with a pitcher of iced tea. He refilled Widdle’s glass…. and tea went everywhere. It sloshed on the tabletop and splashed merrily across the appetizer plates and napkins.
“There you go, my man!” Jack announced, and walked off obliviously.
As I angrily puffed up like a blowfish, Widdle began to laugh. He put his hand over his mouth and his eyes crinkled shut. He didn’t get mad, he got tickled.
“I think our waiter is high,” I hissed.
Widdle shook his head. “No, I think he’s got the mother of all hangovers,” he said. And of course, he was right. As we mopped up the mess, Jack served our delicious meal. Then he leaned on the table and sighed, “I’m so ready to get out of here.”
He looked at Widdle and said, “My buddy lost his job in Vegas and landed at my house last night. And… you know…” he trailed off, wincing slightly.
“I do know,” Widdle said kindly, which seemed to cheer Jack up. Then he turned to me. “I’m trying to place your accent—where are you from?”
“North Carolina,” I said, proudly. “You?”
“Cayce,” he said, only it came out slurry: “Kaaaay-seeeeee.” Widdle’s eyes crinkled up again. And he left a nice tip, which probably made Jack feel better.
At least I learned a new way to crack Widdle up: I just sidle up to him and say, “There you go, my man!”
Julie R. Smith, who had the black bean burger, can be reached at widdlesiwfe@aol.com.

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