Saturday, February 2, 2008

Say 'swordfish'

A small panel in the door slid open. “Yeah?” barked a Paulie Walnuts sound-alike.

“We’re interested in some sangria,” I whispered.

A pause. “What’s the secret word?”


We could hear six or seven deadbolts being thrown open, an alarm code being punched in, and a pit bull being kicked out of the way.

“Sorry, but sangria’s still illegal" here in Virginia, some sort of Prohibition law that was never repealed,” explained our host as he swung open the door. “But you’ll find a lot of it here because it’s perfect for washing down everything else we offer.”

Soon we were chomping rare hamburgers, gorging on foie gras, indulging in some runny sunnyside-up eggs, even super-sizing our fries and cyclamates-sweetened soft drinks. “I even have some chicken fried in trans fats,” our host cooed with a wink.

“We used to do a big business in absinthe, but then they legalized it,” he continued. “But it looks as if grilled meats and fries might be added to the list soon, at least for our California clientele, so that should more than make up for it.”

“Why is there a bunch of judges sitting over there?,” I asked. Still in their robes, they were eating raw oysters and blue fin tuna sashimi. One was smoking.

“Well, they can put a crimp in business, but we can’t help being hospitable to them because lately they’ve been the voice of reason for restaurants,” he explained. “One of ‘em at least delayed the menu labeling law in New York City, another temporarily stopped San Francisco’s healthcare payroll taxes from being levied, and yet another threw out that damned no-match crackdown by the White House. It’s funny—the industry used to curse the courts, but now judges are emerging as the industry’s strongest allies.” I thought I saw him wipe a tear from his cheek.

“Why are they all wearing Wendy’s wigs?”

“Hell, we’ve got cases of them, now that Wendy’s dumped the ad campaign. I’ll send you each home with a box.”

With that, a horrific crash arose from the entrance, and in burst a bunch of people in white lab coats. “Put that forkful of local grouper down and step back from the tables,” shouted one. “This is a raid.”

But while we were converging on the foie gras table until they could cuff us, one of the the enforcers took a call on his cell. He snapped it shut. “Raid’s off,” he yelled to his colleagues. “Mississippi is trying to pass a law that would stop restaurants from selling meals to obese people. We’ve got to get down there and be ready to separate the big boned from the big booty’d. Let’s move.”

We consoled ourselves with a Hardee’s Thickburger and a Domino’s cheeseburger pie.

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